Book Review: Veganissimo A to ZSuzanne Hartmann May 1, 2014
Author: Reuben Proctor and Lars Thomsen
Publisher: Experiment Publishing
Book Publication: 2013
A Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Avoiding Ingredients of Animal Origin in Everyday Products
If you’re the type of person who is ethically motivated in your food and lifestyle choices, or has ever struggled to decipher ingredient labels or suspected sneaky additives in particular products, then Veganissimo A to Z will prove an interesting resource. Written by Reuben Proctor and Lars Thomsen, the tiny tome reads like an ingredient encyclopedia packed full of fascinating definitions. Despite its diminutive size, it succeeds in achieving the vegan authors’ huge desire to educate people, and to shine a bright light on the darker and often hidden side of where things come from, and at whose cost.
Ultimately, the goal of this guide is to inform consumers on alternatives to animal-based products. “Veganissimo” is a word they use to describe someone who is vegan to the highest standard and makes every effort to reduce their “animal footprint.”
Originally written and researched for German-speaking audiences and first published in Germany 17 years ago, the book has since been updated. Now adapted for the Canadian market, this new English edition is based on our system of standardized labelling.
In the more than 2,500 entries, readers will find information on ingredient sources, functions and uses. Each listing also sports an array of handy icons which indicate at a glance whether the product source is vegetable, synthetic, mineral or microbiological. While you might not recognize entries like “zinc hydrolyzed collagen” should you find it listed on some cosmetics, there’s no misunderstanding the definition or tone: “from killed animals.”
It’s not always easy to be sure of what you’re buying just by reading the labels. But to help us wade through those options, the back of the book features general info on product labelling, seals and logos. And according to the authors, the more logos and certifications a product has the better, as each organization often has it’s own unique set of independent testing standards.
While we may think we can identify items containing animal-derived components, it might surprise you to discover they are often added to beer, supplements, and cleaning supplies. But fear not, as there’s even a detailed section on vegan alternatives to animal ingredients. In any case, you may never look at that glass of wine or favourite silk shirt the same way again
Suzanne Hartmann is currently an MFA candidate at the University of King’s College. She has been awarded the National Association of Japanese Canadians Endowment Fund’s 2020 SEAD grant for her MFA project titled Minyō Memories: Celebrating the Postwar Japanese Canadian Community in Toronto.