Poll: Do you read ingredient lists?

September 4, 2009

Yesterday, on Day Three of the Vegan Challenge, I ate:

– Chocolate banana milkshake (1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle each of wheat germ and flaxseed meal) and 1/2 cherry pie Larabar

– Ants on a log! (4 stalks of celery with 2 tbsp peanut butter and 2 tbsp raisins)

– Salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, hummus, 1/2 an apple, cucumber, tomato, bean sprouts, broccoli, radishes

– About a cup of spaghetti squash with marinara sauce (diced tomatoes with herbs/garlic)

– Carrot sticks and 1/2 an apple

– 2 big bowls of oil-popped/air-popped popcorn dusted with salt (I tried to make oil-popped, but I failed miserably, so I turned to the air popper instead) and a spoonful of peanut butter with raisins

Last month’s poll

Last month we talked about whether five pounds makes that much of a difference. The results are in! We had 57 total voters. 21% say that gaining or losing five pounds affects them mentally; 4% feel physically affected, 4% say that it doesn’t affect them at all, and a whopping 72% report that five pounds affects them both physically and mentally. It looks as though a little bit of weight loss or gain goes a long way.

This month’s poll

I came this close to messing up with eating vegan on Day One! The culprit was tea. Yes, tea. At work we have a big pot of tea that brews all day long. Sometimes I bring in my own tea, but usually we drink the kind that happens to be in the drawer at work: Tetley Honey Lemon Ginseng green tea. There I am on my first day of being vegan, eating my vegan calzone at work, and I pour myself a mug of tea. Then I realized that- of course!- it’s honey green tea. And sure enough, when I double-checked the ingredients list, there’s “natural honey flavour” in it. Back that tea went into the pot: not a drop passed my lips. It seems as though struggling with the possibilities for accidentally eating food with animal ingredients might be one of my biggest problems over the next few weeks!

I’ve had to look at all kinds of labels. The cocoa powder I usually use in baking, for example, is processed in a factory with eggs, whey, and dairy. I had a terrible time trying to find a vegan lip balm- even the VitaHealth store, which is where I found my vegan toothpaste/tooth floss/mouthwash, did not have a vegan lip balm- but Lush came to the rescue. Their None Of Your Beeswax vegan lip balm smells great and is almost as good as Burt’s Bees (and that’s saying a lot ;)).

Every time I go grocery shopping, I read the ingredients lists on all the products I’m considering buying. Even bottles of lemon juice can have all kinds of weird stuff in them. I don’t trust nutrition labels even if they say “100% real ___” on them; I still double check the ingredients list just to be on the safe side.

How often do you read ingredient lists? Do you know what’s really in the food you eat? Do you trust the nutrition labels or do you care what is in the product? Do you read the ingredient lists on products such as toothpaste and lip balm? Do you know what half of those ingredients even are? Please answer the poll below!

There’s no time like the present to start reading ingredients lists, no matter what the item is. It’s time we educated ourselves.


  1. I always read the labels, which is not to say I don’t sometimes buy it anyway, but at least I know what’s in it.

    Thanks for the choco-shake recipe. I may have to try that one. Perhaps with some peanut butter in it. πŸ™‚

  2. Im with cammy.
    I always skim but that doesnt mean I dont buy.

    for me it’s about KNOWING what Im cramming in my cakehole and the acknowledgment that yes some days it will be b storebought cake.

  3. I read ingredients lists obsessively. I don’t read the labels on cosmetics because I really don’t understand them most of the time. I do try my best to buy as many of them as possible in organic shops or with organic and fair trade certification. its expensive, but so far I’ve been satisfied with everything except hair conditioner and suncream.

  4. I’m vegan and a health conscious eater, so I’m ALWAYS checking labels. You learn a lot the more you do it for sure! I like it, and can understand it pretty quickly now, where, at the begining, it took a lot longer. It’s mostly the ingredients I read now, though I used to get involved in the other things as well a lot more than now.

  5. I love your polls. I don’t think I voted on the last one, I would say five pounds would effect me physically and mentally but only if it happened in a short time period, not gradually.

  6. Truth? When I was morbidly obese I didn’t care what was in it, I just cared how it tasted! But once I started getting healthier and losing weight, I cared very much!!

  7. With all my food allergies and intolerances, I HAVE to diligently read ingredients labels.

  8. Cammy- I bet it would be GREAT with PB!

    MizFit- I agree. Some days I’m still going to eat the processed crap- but even so I want to know what’s in it.

    fd- Most of the ingredients in cosmetics go right over my head. I need to learn more about them.

    Lia- practice makes perfect with reading labels πŸ™‚

    Gina- ooh good point. I didn’t think of that- but yes, it’s true. Time frame makes a big big difference.

    Diane & VeggieGirl- motivation definitely comes from the necessity of it.

  9. I always read the labels because it’s important to know what’s in the food we consume. I try not to buy things with too many unknown additives or preservatives. But you know, sometimes I just buy it anyway!

    Seriously, though. I’ll have to give this lip balm a try. I love me some Burt’s (been using the stuff for years – it’s like my own crack) but it can get a little stingy in the hot hot heat sometimes.

  10. Interesting to read about your challenge and the things you are encountering in the process. I check just about every inch of a package I buy. However, since I’m buying fewer and fewer packaged foods I’m finding it is less of an issue. πŸ™‚

  11. Ohhh yes. It’s not so much calories and whatnot anymore, but the ingredients list. There is so much crap that winds up in food, like Red #40. I have my mental list of “ok additives,” “not deal breaker additives,” and “oh my god stay out of my body additives.”

    Some of the Fiber One products have high fructose corn syrup. Drives me NUTS.

  12. I’m getting better at checking ingredients but some of it I still don’t get or understand but I at least usually look for some obvious red flags.

  13. I don’t really buy any processed food that has ingredient lists, so I don’t have to read them… πŸ™‚

  14. Having had food allergies before I could read, I grew up reading ingredients lists. What I need to think about is some kind of schedule for RE-reading them, in case they’ve changed in the years I’ve been using them. Of course, most of the food I buy doesn’t have ingredients, it IS ingredients.

    I don’t use makeup or toothpaste (baking soda and salt for me), and the main thing about sunscreen is that the smell not make me sick. What I’ve used for lip balm for over forty years is petroleum jelly, which certainly isn’t an animal product.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  15. I actually only read the ingredient list, never the nutritional info table or the “advertising” on the front.

    I think honey is probably the deal breaker for me when it comes to going 100% vegan. It remains my sweetener of choice.

  16. Gena- Burts Bees is my crack too! But yes, this lip balm is definitely a keeper as well.

    Lori & Maggie- yes indeed regarding not buying packaged food- BUT at the same time that’s the problem, isn’t it? Even things that we think are the least processed can have all kinds of crap in them. Even buying almonds from a bulk bin is tricky because some are seasoned etc. Milk could have all kinds of things in it (eg. sugar added). And THAT is the real issue! Things are crammed into the least suspecting products.

    Mimi- hence why I don’t eat cereal. Sighs. And I have a mental list too! But I also carry an actual list in my purse at all times. Just in case I want to whip it out at the store (and nope, I’m not even joking. I’ve got some of the crazy in me :D).

    Robin- they should really have courses at university for learning about food additives… it’s complicated business.

    Mary Anne- you lead such an interesting life. And you raise such a good point about ingredients changing- sometimes it happens so sneakily we don’t even notice.

    Hanlie- I like reading all of it! I get excited by the rhetoric (and yeah. Rhetoric is everything. So I get excited by pretty much everything. I also think in exclamation marks). What do you think of agave as a substitute for honey? They’re both fantastic.

  17. […] World Discussions about being healthy in all aspects and enjoying life to the fullest! « Poll: Do you read ingredient lists? Day Five of the Vegan Challenge and an Exploding Spaghetti Squash September 5, 2009 […]

  18. […] Last month we discussed ingredient lists which, truth be told, are a favourite subject of mine (as you probably already know if you’re a regular reader around here!). I’m ecstatic to report that out of 35 voters, 71% always read the front of the package, the nutrition facts table, and the ingredient list! 26% sometimes check the ingredient list, 3% don’t really care what’s in their food, and 0% say that they trust the nutrition claims made on the front packaging of food products. […]

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