Vegan Info UK

Buying Guide

If you aren’t used to checking whether items contain animal products, it can be quite bewildering. It’s worth reminding ourselves of the definition of a vegan, as given by the Vegan Society:

“Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose”

So, naturally a vegan isn’t going to eat meat, milk, eggs or anything made from those things. They also aren’t going to wear leather or fur. But animal products sneak into other, less obvious products. Non-food items don’t necessarily state what they are made of, so you may need to do some investigation to find something suitable. The Vegan Society website have a guide to shopping for vegan products.

Here we give a brief rundown of the things to avoid when shopping.

Product Be careful of...
Shoes and trainers
  • Leather
  • Wool
  • Animal-based glues
  • Leather
  • Silk
  • Fur trims
  • Wool
  • Bone or shell buttons
  • Leather necklace straps
  • Shells
  • Mother-of-pearl
Shaving kits Animal hair in shaving brushes
Paint brushes / artists brushes Hair and fur
Cake decorations
  • Gelatine
  • Shellac and cochineal (both made from insects)
Furniture, bedding etc
  • Leather (chairs etc.),
  • Horsehair
  • Wool (especially in rugs)
  • Feathers/Down (especially in pillows)
  • Milk or milk powder
  • Butterfat
  • Lecithin may come from animals. Soya lecithin is OK
  • Gelatine - especially in boiled sweets, marshmallows etc.
  • Glycerine (sometimes from vegetable origin)
  • Honey
Cosmetics and Toiletries
  • Animal ingredients (Lanolin, gelatine, beeswax, shellac amongst others)
  • Animal testing
Wallets, purses, handbags Leather
Phone covers, iPad covers etc. Leather (though items made of 'PU Leather' are actually plastic)
Recipe books It's better to buy a specifically vegan recipe book, not a vegetarian cookbook
Candles Beeswax, animal fat. Buy candles made from petroleum instead.
Alcoholic drinks Beer and wine is often cleared with fish extract, milk or egg which generally aren’t listed in the ingredients. Some spirits may also contain animal products.