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The small print

In a primarily meat-based world, vegan labelling is hard to come by — we look into the laws, legislations and solutions surrounding the issue

Food labelling — it’s imperative that it is done correctly, but it’s something that many people don’t spend time thinking about. If you have an allergy or health related issue, there are longstanding legislations regarding the correct labelling of products that might contain ingredients that are harmful to you. However, there is no set guidance or legislation for vegansuitable food — in fact, there is no agreed legal definition of ‘vegan’ in the UK, or many countries worldwide, and so, food producers do not have to label their products accordingly. Fortunately, the law is explicit on the definition of ingredients, so, those in search of vegan-friendly food can scour through nutritional fact panels and full ingredients to identify animal derivatives, but, unlike the need for allergens to be highlighted, there is no short alternative to finding these.

Reading these lists provides little assurance as to whether the product is actually vegan and cruelty-free. Many animal ingredients are noted as E numbers and stabilisers that are unfamiliar to some purchasers, while others are not listed at all because they do not need to be declared (for example, production additives and trace ingredients). James Butcher, managing director of Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB,, works closely with grocery retailers and suppliers to improve the labelling of products. He says:

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About Vegan Life

Welcome to the March issue. It’s my favourite time of year, as the evenings get lighter and the first signs of spring emerge. It’s the perfect time of year to dust off the winter cobwebs and refocus on our goals. This year has already seen a lot of change for the vegan movement — Veganuary was a huge success, with 250,000 sign-ups, and hopefully a large proportion of those who took part will continue their vegan journeys. We have seen an unprecedented amount of vegan food launches, too — in supermarkets and restaurants — and it feels like change is really happening. But with all change there is controversy — we take a look into the issues and backlash surrounding some of these new launches. Mother’s Day is on the 31st of March, and what better way to celebrate the women who raised us than by treating them to a vegan high tea? We’ve rounded up the best and the recipes you need if you want to make your own. It’s important to remember those who don’t get to spend the day with loved ones, and this includes the millions of dairy cows cruelly separated from their parents. We take some time to reflect. We also had the pleasure of talking to the inspirational James Aspey this month. The activist and campaigner has some great advice for advocating. Enjoy the issue, Phillipa Smith