Wednesday, August 10, 2011

D'oh! Or should I say, "Dough!"

click on the image above to look at the label or visit the website
Okay, I'm having a Homer Simpson moment. In my previous post, I mention the use of Flatout Breads. The specific kind I used was the light Italian. This bread was not purchased with my money, but was obtained at my food bank. No, I didn't see the official capital V that told me it was okay, but I looked at the ingredients to see if there were any of the common offenders. I thought I was in the clear.

Thanks to Miss Muffcake-(and I am not being terse about this, but truly appreciative), I was told that the product I used was not vegan. D'oh! Or should I have said, "Dough!". I called the company at 5 minutes to close and asked about the source of the preservatives, specifically enzymes and l-cysteine. He was the last guy in the office, so he was alone and couldn't provide an answer on the spot, but told me that I would get an e-mail soon.


My stomach sank. I'm pretty sure the questionable ingredients are animal derived. How could I have been so stupid? It was an honest mistake and I publicly apologize. I thought I had read the package carefully. At one time I had a little book of animal derived ingredients, but I gave it away to someone in a care package because I felt that I had enough of the offenders ingrained in my head to know what was okay and what wasn't. Which brings me to some questions I would like to ask you readers:

  1. Have you ever made a mistake like this? Talk to me about it.
  2. Has someone pointed this sort of thing out to you? How did it make you feel?
  3. Have you ever pointed out something like this to another vegan? What was your motive for doing it?
  4. Some vegans will not eat a product that has been made on shared equipment. I respect that vegan's decision, but it isn't mine. I live in a house with an omnivore and two vegetarians. ALL of my kitchen equipment is shared with things that have touched an animal product. I won't eat things that read "contains traces of ________", but shared doesn't bother me. I'm sure the vegan po-po is putting out the APB on me for writing that, but as far as I'm concerned, it is that kind of attitude that drives potential vegetarians and vegans away from the movement. So the question is, do you eat products that have been produced on shared equipment?
  5. Do you buy vegan products from companies that make non-vegan products?
  6. Does a food or beauty product have to have the "V" label for you to use it?
I'm grateful for moments like these because veganism is a process, a journey, and to me--not anything that any human can perfectly adhere to. Whuuuut? Go ahead, tell me something you love and I can put on my police uniform and tell you how it isn't vegan at all.

So why do I do this? I hate preachy blogs, and this stuff needs to be talked about so we can have an honest conversation and hopefully dissolve the stereotype that all vegans are picky assholes. We're not. I'm someone who loves to eat, wants to have fun, and cares about making this insanely crazy world a little more of an awesome place.

Okay, done with the discourse. Don't forget you have until midnight EST August 19th to enter my granola giveaway contest!


Susan said...

This happens to most (if not all of us) at some point, don't feel bad. I've been a vegan for almost eleven years and only recently did I realise that most apple juice was refined with gelatine! Ick. Thankfully I don't drink it, but I do use it in cooking from time to time. I've had long-term vegan friends who have been half way through a packet of munchies or a drink and suddenly realised it has crushed bugs in it, even though they had read the ingredients three times before they bought it. In a world where companies seem determined to try and sneak animal products into everything and label them in such obscure terms, it is sadly going to happen. The important thing is that then you know, and you don't buy it again. I do truly believe the vegan journey is a continuing evolution, and there are always new things to be learning all the time. If someone knew something I didn't, I would want them to tell me. Same back, if I saw someone who was vegan for the same reasons I am eating something I knew was not vegan, I would let them know too. Not in an angry, preachy way, but just in a way of sharing information.

I buy vegan products from companies that also make non-vegan items. I do buy some products that have been made on shared equipment (sadly, vegan dedicated manufacturing plants seem to be few and far between!). I live with omnivorous parents and we share pots and plates (sadly my mother also has sullied my slow cooker... thank goodness those inserts are non-absorbent ceramic!). I will always try and buy a product made by a vegan company where I can, but it is not always possible or practical. I also hope that by buying products from non-vegan companies, if we tell them why we are buying those products, maybe that will inspire them to make small changes to make some of their other products vegan friendly. It also helps non-vegans see that being vegan is as easy as just going to your local shop, you don't need to spend lots of time hunting down strange ingredients. Of course I do spend a lot of time hunting down ingredients, but that's because I want to!

Anyway, that is my piece. And now everyone who reads your blog knows that those breads aren't suitable, so other people are less likely to be caught out by them.

Lydia said...

1. More times than can be counted. In fact, once I even accidentally missed the mention of milk in some naan... Eventually I re-read the ingredients and realized my mistake. :(

2. Nope, no one I know really is savvy as to what's vegan or not.

3. Yes- an old friend used to be a vegetarian. She was just about to bite a marshmallow when I informed her of its composition...
4.No... Alas, I know only one other vegan (my boyfriend).
5. I will eat products produced on the same equipment.
6. Yes, I do.. Mainly for convenience.
7. No, but I delight in seeing them and I do look for them more often on bodycare/beauty products. If it doesn't say no animal testing, though, I will not purchase it.

Oliver Danni said...

1. I'm sure I've made mistakes like that, especially since I've just gotten less strict about label-checking and remembering all of the trace ingredients than I was in the early years of my vegan life. There was definitely a sad day when someone pointed out to me that a "bonito" was a fish, not a seaweed, which meant I had to stop eating a particular kind of miso soup that I really liked (I...don't know why I thought it was a seaweed!)
2. I was bummed out because I really liked that soup, but I was glad that my friend let me know because then I could stop eating it. I don't beat myself up if I accidentally eat something with an animal product in it. I do the best I can and it's not like I can un-eat it once I've already eaten it.
3. If I'm aware of someone who is vegan eating something that has animal products in it, I will usually say something to them because my assumption is that they would want to know. I would want someone to tell me, too, if I were accidentally eating something that I didn't know wasn't vegan.
4. My goal is really to avoid supporting the abuse of animals. When I have a question about something like this, the question I ask is "Is this going to help any animals?" So, is it actually going to help any animals if I refuse to eat vegan food that has been in the vicinity of meat, or if I refuse to eat off a plate that ever had meat on it? No, I don't think so.
5. I have not chosen to boycott companies that make non-vegan products, but I would consider it an entirely reasonable choice for someone to do so, and when I have the option I would be likely to spend more money to buy a product from an all-vegan company. Similarly, whenever possible I will choose to eat at an all-vegan restaurant over one that has both vegan and non-vegan options, because I would rather support an all-vegan restaurant.
6. Is this V label thing new? I don't even know about a V label. I'm getting old. I won't buy beauty or cleaning products that are tested on animals, absolutely not, no way, full stop. I was boycotting that shit long before I had even heard of veganism.

missmuffcake said...

When you posted about the flat out bread I was psyched because I am always looking for vegan bread (besides the ones that cost $5 a loaf) at the store. I did some research and came up with the info they are not vegan.

I often stick to a set list - I am kinda paranoid when it comes to food due to dietary allergies!

Allysia said...

Well I just left a really involved comment and blogger deleted it. So I'll try to be brief this time:

-I don't believe veganism is about purity and perfection.

-There will be times when you're stranded in a small town, or when your friends are all going to some greasy pub and cross-contamination is inevitable.

-My granny makes me cookies, and cakes, and desserts of all kind. Every holiday there are treats for me - I'm a lucky vegan! Of course, the sugar she uses is of unknown origin, and the chocolate probably isn't fair trade, or organic - but it's dark and free of animal ingredients. This lady makes me treats with soy milk and vegan margarine and egg replacer - but I suspect if I were to request organic sugar and chocolate, that would be pushing it. Especially because she lives in a tiny town where those sorts of items aren't always available.

-I do eat vegan food made by non-vegan companies, and I do eat food that says "may contain traces of..." or "made in a factory that also processes...". I will eat a veggie burger that was cooked on the same grill as a meat burger in a restaurant - not my first choice, but sometimes it's my only choice if I want to be fed.

-People think us vegans are picky enough - if I was at a restaurant with friends and started saying, "can you wash your knife before slicing my cheeseless pizza" and "can you fire up a separate grill for me" and etc, what is that showing other people? It certainly isn't making a difference to the animals. There's just an "ew" factor, which I get, I really do, but again - there are always those random situations.

-As animal consumption lessens, the use of their parts as preservatives/additives will also lessen. If I were at a relative's house and they bought me bread with no honey, no egg, no milk ingredients, no whey, but it had l-cysteine, I would eat it. And I would say, "thanks for thinking about me and picking me up bread, as most conventional grocery stores don't have any bread that could be guaranteed vegan when you look at all the iffy preservatives, and I don't expect you to make me a homemade loaf, and I am not always able to hit up a health food store." In my own home, I avoid those sorts of things as best as I can.

Bianca said...

Haha! I made that same exact mistake on my blog last year. And a commenter also pointed that out. I'm not so good with recognizing nonvegan dough conditioners, but I've since downloaded an app that lists animal ingredients. It's been really helpful.

Honestly, when this happens, I typically finish out the product (so long as there's no obvious meat chunks in it) and never buy it again. I don't want waste. And I fuck up all the time. I'm sure I eat nonvegan crap at restaurants without realizing it more than I want to know.

Don't sweat it. Now you know. No biggie.

See you in 15 days!!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

It happens. And probably will a few more times. You just keep going, and you remember what you've learned from the experience.
I'm not worried about things processed on the same equipment or cooked in the same fryer or grill - some people are. You decide what works for you and what your comfort level and ethics will let you live with.
If I limited myself to items with the "Vegan-V" on them, I would have NO products to use, as I think I only see it once in a rare while. Yes, the items I use ARE vegan, but only accidentally so. I live in a very vegan-deficient area, and cannot afford the luxury of driving 100+ miles to purchase specialty items.
I eat foods made by non-vegan companies, same as above, otherwise I'd be left with only the vegetables from my own garden. It's slim (vegan) pickin's for some of us in the real world...

deucenickeltay said...

I do eat products from shared equipment. That never really bothered me because as far as I'm aware, everything is washed down between different products and the warning is to release liability for people with severe allergies.
My vegetarian sister used to live with me and I know she sometimes prepared non-vegan food in my pots and pans. I told her I preferred for her not to do this, but it was one of those things I let slide to keep the peace. My friends are pretty rad so when we cook together it's almost always entirely vegan so it's not really an issue. I do not allow meat in my house under any circumstance and so far it hasn't been an issue. I think I've converted more friends to veganism/vegetarianism than I've annoyed by it : )
I don't need a "V" on a product, but I think I am pretty savvy about what additives and preservatives are vegan so I don't make as many mistakes as I used to. To my knowledge, I only buy vegan beauty products and I do alot of research and emailing companies, but there is misinformation sometimes. I have some expensive makeup from like 5 years ago, before I was vegan, that I still use. Like you said, it doesn't do the animals any good throwing it away. I'd rather donate the money I'm saving by not tossing and replacing those items.
My everyday cleaning supplies are natural and vegan, but every once in a while I'll have a nasty clog and turn to Drain-O or something equally horrible and chemical laden in desperation! Vegan police come get me! And then tell me what you use for your drains : )