As a vegan, I generally try to stay away from processed foods. Natural raw foods both taste better and of course, are much better for you. There is also some ease to not having to read a label and decipher confusing ingredient lists. However, there are things you are going to need to buy, and want to buy, that come in a package. This is where this app comes in handy.
The Is It Vegan? app is available in the app store for free. It is a great quick resource to see if processed foods are vegan. I have been using this app for a year now, and although it has some issues, I find myself still using it all the time because it is so helpful.
First, the app asks if you consider sugar vegan. Many vegans avoid standard processed sugars, because although they do not contain animal products, often they are filtered using animal bone char. Sugar manufacturers are not required to list the bone char in their ingredients because it is just used as a filter. This is a nice setting on the app because some vegans are pickier than others about this.
Next, you can scan or manually enter the barcode in. I find that the scanner works on most items, but can be tricky to use. It scans right away, and I personally think a couple seconds of delay would be nice, but I am very used to the MyFitnessPal scanner which works very well and is very user-friendly.
Manually entering the barcode number is also relatively easy though, and I’ve found many times the scanner turns up with the wrong item or cannot find the item, but when I manually enter the barcode number it comes right up. It also has the capability to search by product name or ingredient.
Here is the really nice thing about this app: the way it lists the ingredients out. Below are two examples of a vegan and non-vegan food. You can see it really nicely lays out the vegan, vegetarian, and “Definitely Not Vegetarian” ingredients. It also says “typically vegan” for ingredients like “natural flavorings” that are very ambiguous, so with that you can decide if it’s something you want to eat or not.
It also has a nice gauge to show you how sure it is that the ingredient is/isn’t vegan (yay visual content!).
Another drawback: advertisements. They are everywhere on this app. They are on a banner across the bottom (as you can see in the screenshots above), and they are in pop-ups that you get constantly when you are in the app. If you do really like the app though, you can upgrade to ad-free version for $4.99.
Here’s the pros & cons:
- It’s FREE!
- Very clearly lists ingredients and if they are vegan/vegetarian/other
- Works very quickly (no waiting for loading time)
- Simple & easy to use
- Allows you to toggle on/off sugar preference
- Scanner can be touchy
- Graphics look outdated
- Lots of ads (ad-free version costs $4.99)
- Only does food items (not bath, beauty, or kitchen/cleaning supplies)
Overall, I would recommend this app. I use it all the time and find it extremely useful- MUCH better than having to look up individual ingredients and decipher labels.
See you all at the grocery store, with my phone pulled out scanning the shelves!
*Note: Looks like there is also a new app called Vegan Pocket – Is It Vegan? that claims to be able to scan food cosmetics, and clothes. It is also free and I’m going to try it out for a bit to see how it compares. Would love to hear if anyone else has tried either of these apps and what they think!