Cereal is easily my favorite food. I can actually point directly to this particular food as a reason I resisted veganism for so long. I hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of almond milk and I thought there would never be a milk substitute that could support my habit.
Anyway, here I am, happily eating cereal on a near daily basis when it occurs to me last week that the front of the box of Trader Joe’s Multigrain O’s I’ve been hitting pretty hard lately says it is a good source of B12 and there is no “V” anywhere on the box. Although, I know that not all of the vegan products at TJ’s are marked as such, I’ve read the ingredients list and I figure that a staple food like this should probably be marked. Also knowing that most sources of B12 are not vegan, I decide to go check out the actual list of vegan products Trader Joe’s keeps on their site (and updates frequently) just to be sure.
Multigrain O’s? Not on the list.
Boy, am I a dummy. I don’t know how it’s possible that I never considered how fortified foods could pose a problem, especially since I am fully aware that a lot of vitamins and minerals are sourced from animals in one way or another (see my post on vegan vitamins for proof of my idiocy). For whatever reason though, I’ve been walking around with a total blind spot on this.
I believe my only real problem is cereals, but other foods that are commonly fortified include cooking oils, tea, juice and other beverages and bread. It’s also common for all kinds of processed foods to have been fortified.
So, the lesson is: it’s not always enough just to read ingredients lists. If a food has been fortified (and if it has, it will almost always be bragging about it somewhere on the front of the package), and it isn’t a purposely vegan product or brand (something that is also usually touted somewhere on the package), then consider it non-vegan.