Posted in Veganism

Top 10 Practical Tips for Very Easy, Sustainable and Inclusive Veganism in the UK

Top 10 Practical Tips for Very Easy, Sustainable and Inclusive Veganism in the UK Posted on 05/01/201613 Comments
Ahoy, hello! My name is Jenny. I am a thirty-something human female from Manchester in the north of England. I enjoy rainy days and sad songs, custard donuts and salt & pepper chips and beer, lentil dhal and fried okra, X-Files and Twin Peaks, fierce fat heroines and mental health advocates, dogs and cats and otters and a very special beirdo. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath: "I blog because there is a voice within me that insists on writing lots of ridiculous chuff".

This post last updated August 2017

Once upon a time in 2012 I wrote a totally n00by ‘how to be vegan in the UK’ post. Here she is. Bless! I’d been vegan for a while then too, but I guess I had a lot to learn, and provisions have also wayyyyyy improved since then.

Just recently I was trawling through the (actually quite handy) Veganuary site and I realised how much of this stuff even I didn’t know. I’ve also recently found out some flipping amazing facts about vegan beauty products/toiletries easily available that aren’t mail order from Far Away, or super mega expensive or obscure.

See, I’m a lazy gal. I also like instant gratification. I like to go buy nice stuff and have it nowwwwwww. I don’t want to WAIT. I am no different when it comes to my veganism. I am super lazy and really flaky about mail ordering all the cool vegan stuff everyone recommends. I think everyone should have the option of being a lazy vegan! Even if just to ease you in to the world of being vegan, I think everyone should know about these easy-as-pie ways to stick to your morals without having to visit too many far-off health food stores, or wait too long for Stuff You Want. I don’t want to have to carry around ~nuts~ in my handbag in case I can’t get any food. I want to carry CAKE. I think that normalising veganism is a great thing. Folks should know that it isn’t necessarily weird and difficult. It’s getting easier and easier!

And you know what? I see so much ignorance around issues of social justice and oppression in the vegan community. It makes my heart sad. I’ve learned so many excellent things from some excellent people and I wanted to share that with you all too. THUMBS UP!


Ok folks, this is a deep and meaningful one. But really, it’s so important. This one will fuel every consumer choice you make, food or otherwise. It’s so important to get informed. Think hard about why you’ve chosen to try veganism. Remember that veganism is a lifestyle, a whole world view; it isn’t meant to be a diet or a healthy eating kick. It can be a quiet resolution or a loud, public statement of intent, but however you choose to wade out into the super wonderful world of being vegan, make sure you’ve thought good and hard about the reasons why. Read some books, watch some films, talk to some other sensible vegan folks about their own story. Read mine here (including links on getting started!) The thing is, once your viewpoint has been thoroughly informed and backed up, this ethical base will be much stronger, and it may well help see you through some of the tougher times.

A recent study (July 2015) has shown that those who choose veganism for ethical reasons are more likely to stick to the diet than those who choose ‘health’ reasons.

Things might get weird or tricky during your first vegan weeks and months. You’ll make mistakes and feel bad about them. Some vegans will be brilliant and supportive, some will be total motherflippers about the fact all your shoes are leather and you can only afford to replace them as they wear out. That whole ‘veganism isn’t a diet, it’s a choice your heart makes‘ thing kind of makes me want to puke in my mouth a bit, but there’s truth in it as well. Once you believe, at your very core, that animals and their ‘products’ are not for us to consume, whether for food, clothing or mascara, everything becomes a lot clearer and, believe it or not, a lot easier. I promise!


Here’s a fun one. It’s the question people ask me most frequently. What about eating out? And what indeed! I’ve had some totally amazing eating out experiences. Once I was in Rome, city of meat and cheese, quite a few years ago. One adorable cafe owner trawled his little kitchen to create the most amazing totally-vegan salad for me. It was HUGE and he was beaming with pride.

But then only a couple of years ago I went to a super fancy celebrity chef Italian restaurant in Manchester city centre and the attention I got from about 6 waiters all fussing over WHAT ON EARTH they could possibly make to accommodate an awkward fiend like me pretty much sent me running for the bathrooms trying not to blub. I will admit it was an emotional time (I was post break-up and even watched all the Twilight films, sshhhhhh) but still it’s true that some of your experiences will be crap and mortifying. Your friends should be supportive at times like these! If your friends do end up hating you, I think you might need some new friends. Just sayin’.

But veganism is so much easier now than it was even 6-7 years ago, when I first jumped in. There are some SUPER amazingly useful resources you can use to help you out there in that non-vegan world, and here they are:

  • The Happy Cow app. This is absolute GOLD. I’ve used this all over the UK and in Europe. I even use it in my own city since these days all the young ‘uns go out a lot more often than I do, and they keep all the entries up to date. If you’re ever in a fix, just fire up the app and search nearby, and whether it’s a local cafe or chain restaurant, if there are vegan-friendly options, you’ll know about it in no time. They didn’t have this in my day, I can tell you! This is a particularly excellent resource for those of you with lots of meat-eating friends, but who would still like to feel part of the gang and not so much like THE WEIRD VEGAN.
  • The Barnivore app(s). So, this is for the boozers amongst you. Especially the part time boozers like me who don’t drink a huge amount but enjoy a nice bottle o red or a craft ale (or three) every now and then, so you don’t really keep up with the latest vegan boozy news. It has a HUGE database of alcoholic drinks sourced from the Barnivore site, with info on whether vegan friendly or not. Super mega handy. Also – Sainsbury’s, M&S, Co-op and Tesco label their vegan wines, so woohoo for that!
  • The Guardian has even produced a list of top vegan beers. Super!
  • This amazing list of chain restaurants offering vegan options. I just found this TODAY on the Veganuary site and I was amazing by some of the options available. Book me into a Toby carvery for Sunday lunch pls.
  • The Vegan Society have also produced a list of vegan-friendly options at chain restaurants. Wahey!


source: pixabay

Don’t you worry one bit, my vegan friend! I totally proper pinky promise that this isn’t a weird and difficult part of being vegan. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about all this stuff. I had nasty bad make-up and toiletries lurking in my immense collection of lotions & potions for ages. Some I chucked, and with others I waited until they ran out, because even at bargain prices I couldn’t necessarily afford to throw it all away and stock up again instantly. Go easy on yourself and do what you can do as soon as you can afford to do it!

Some other folks have really put in a massive effort to collate information about cruelty-free and vegan make-up, skincare products and toiletries so I’ll will link to them here. But I’ll also list a few of my handy favourites. Minimum effort required! YEH!

Be aware that the leaping bunny logo does not necessarily = vegan. More on that here.

[N.B. Nearly all of these brands offer products that are produced ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ but I’m not a big fan of that binary so I haven’t made mention of it, however, just so you know the links here will help you out with everything from toothpaste to tampons to sex toys to beard oil. Dive in!]

(A) Sal over at Alien on Toast has put together an uh-mazing list of ‘beauty’ brands on her blog, indicating whether vegan or vegan-friendly and also listing info about parent companies that may or may not still test on animals. There are flipping loads of UK brands here, including a lot of really rather handy (not obscure) ones. Here is a wee list of some of the most convenient options, just to demonstrate that you can shop cruelty-free on the high street for stuff like this:

One of my resolutions for 2016 is to branch out a bit beyond everything Superdrug so lists like these are so handy! Thanks Sal! <3

I’m also coming across more online shops, some totally vegan (V), some with a vegan section or filter (VS/F) on their sites! Some stock more than one brand.

(B) Another super mega handy list of cruelty-free ‘beauty’ brands (international) can be found on the Vegan Make-up Tumblr. They have a 100% vegan list too. This is another excellent round-up and brilliant reference list and I should really pay it some attention and insert some freshness into my make-up collection!

(C) Cruelty-free beauty apps. Woe, cos there are no good UK ones you know 🙁 Many are US-oriented, unclear about which products are fully vegan and/or produced by organisations I have problems with (e.g. PETA). Do you know of any good ones? Please let me know in the comments!

ETA: There is one app called Cruelty-Cutter which will tell you about a product’s animal-testing status but it does not specify whether vegan. They say in their FAQ they are hoping to add this functionality!

(D) ‘Cruelty-free’ Blogs. There are a million ‘cruelty free’ beauty blogs out there nowadays. Searching #cfbloggers on Twitter will bring up plenty! Often, though, they are NOT vegan so keep an eye out for that.

If you want to look up a particular ingredient use this Cosmetics Database. It will include data from PETA’s list of animal-derived ingredients where applicable. They also have an app!


Hey, don’t panic! This is a very similar entry to No.3, above. The majority of the time I stick with the two options below, which are super handy and cover me for just about everything. No internet ordering required!

There are other ways to research the household products you buy. You could join Ethical Consumer who have a super handy search function where you can ‘prioritise’ animal welfare as a way to filter products or supermarkets, etc.

You could also check out Animal Aid’s piece on animal testing of household products.

If you’re better at being an adult than me, you could order online, there are lots of products available.

And if you are some kind of Real-life Pinterest Superhero, you could make your own (I KNOW RIGHT, LULZ, AS IF). (Hold the flipping phone this actually happened.)


Ok, so, this is a totally legitimate thing to go “whaaaaaaat” about. It’s a prime pain in the rear when you first become vegan and you haven’t built up your mental database of what ‘regular’ stuff you can eat in ‘normal’ shops. I hear you!

Thankfully, I’m going to make this super duper easy for you. Yeahhh! First of all there are a some really useful (if sometimes clunky) apps that you can download:

  • Is It Vegan? This is really flipping handy. You can scan a product’s barcode (or search for it) and the app will list all the ingredients and tell you whether it’s vegan. I searched for Skittles and it was listed. I searched for Skips (now vegan!) and that wasn’t listed….. The sad news is that this app hasn’t been updated since September 2014 so you might want to double check your finds 🙁 Update: I’ve been assured that although the app hasn’t been updated in yonks, the database is updated daily!
  • This E-Food Additives app is great for checking random ingredients. It will tell you if the additive is plant based or not.
  • The Animal-Free app hasn’t been updated since 2011 (urghhhh) but it’s still a handy way to look up individual ingredients (chemicals, e-numbers, all that stuff!)
  • The VegLookup app similarly hasn’t been updated in forever, but it’s still a handy list for random ingredients.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is a whole lot of stuff out there that is ‘accidentally vegan’, as we say in the biz. It is a bit of a movable (vegan) feast, keeping up with any changes, but if you’re part of any online vegan communities you’re likely to hear about exciting new stuff (SKIPS ARE VEGAN NOW OMG) as well as disappointments when stuff gets unveganized (salt & vinegar walkers crisps wot why do u contain milk).

There are quite a few ‘accidentally’ vegan products listed here, and this Instagram account looks pretty handy, but feel free to comment with some of your faves!

There’s also a super duper concise and frequently updated list of all the main supermarkets’ vegan food lists right here. Aces!

What’s even more handy these days is that all prepared food products are required to list possible allergens, and this can be a very easy way to look out for hidden milk or eggs.


Ok folks. Here we go. The Vegan Society (for all their sins) have stuck by a definition of veganism which I, personally, believe is the definitive one if you want to consider yourself a vegan with a capital V (rather than someone who simply eats a plant based diet, or eats a plant based diet ‘most of the time’……)

Their definition is this:

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

I guess you noted that I underlined the ‘as far as possible and practicable’ part of this definition. This isn’t a means to ‘cheat’ at veganism. This recognises that many vegans live in an incredibly non-vegan-friendly world. I do believe that in the vast majority of cases it can be both practicable and possible to eat a plant based diet and embrace animal-free consumption, but remember that living an exhaustively, meticulously, profoundly 110% vegan lifestyle is impossible because we do not live in a world that makes it possible. We live in a world that uses and abuses animals for food, by-products, clothing, cosmetics, medical research, entertainment, sport, and more. It is a HUGE industry. Industrial agriculture is massive. We live in a really shitty world for animals! (And what’s more the meat industry is often inherently exploitative to humans as well.) My own baseline is to consume zero animal products, and to try my absolute best to make ethical choices beyond that. Here are some scenarios that might compromise efforts to live as ethically as extremely possible, and they are all valid:

  • A low budget may make it very difficult to avoid problematic parent companies or less ethical corporations. When I was on a low income I shopped almost exclusively at Asda. Though I purchased plant-based products only, I understood that I was still supporting a very dodgy corporation. When my budget allows it I go for Waitrose, or independent retailers. (You can read more about supermarket ethics here.) If you can shop at lovely local co-ops or independent retailers, that’s tremendous. But some folks who may be very busy with work and/or childcare, and/or those who don’t have their own transport may not be able to buy in bulk for better value. Telling people they can eat cheaply using dried beans and fresh raw ingredients assumes they have the energy, know-how, means and resources to cook tasty meals from scratch. Listen friends, you just try your best! And know that a lot of vegans have Asda frozen veggie mince and beer battered onion rings in their freezers too (pls say it’s not just me).
  • Some vegans believe that eating any products with a ‘May Contain’ warning on (a cross contamination warning) e.g. for milk, or eggs, is non-vegan. Please do make your own mind up on this! Here’s some further discussion from the Vegan Society. Cross contamination warnings are in place because it’s a legal requirement, along with allergen labels, and I actually use this as a handy way to identify vegan products. If a veggie product has a label warning that the product may contain milk/eggs/honey then to me, that’s a-ok, because animal products are not an intended or active ingredient. If you are allergic, you probably want to avoid anything with a cross-contamination warning!
  • As above, some people choose not to eat in any establishments that are not exclusively vegan. You should also make up your own mind about this!
  • You might find, one day, that you suffer an illness or injury, or require some other kind of treatment, for which a non-vegan medication is the only one on offer. I have taken non-vegan medication where there was no alternative in the past. Here’s where ‘as far as is possible and practicable‘ comes into play. Ask your vegan friends, google vegan alternatives, but please do look after your physical AND mental health first of all. You can’t take a vegan-friendly medication if it doesn’t exist.
  • Please recognise some of the reasons that people may struggle with their veganism. A critical and unsupportive family can make this very hard for some vegans (especially the young ‘uns). Eating disorders can play a part in struggles around sustaining veganism too. Here’s a pro tip – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Honey is an animal product. Vegans don’t eat it. Soz.

Above all you guyz, BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER. If you are vegan 5 days a week, you ain’t vegan. If you ‘cheat sometimes’, you ain’t vegan. There is a baseline. But beyond that baseline, please try to be compassionate to others and to maintain an awareness of some of the issues that make Purest Most Perfect Veganism difficult for some. Be supportive of genuine best efforts.


source: pixabay

So if you’ve decided to Be A Vegan I’m assuming that your aim is to limit the (mis)use of animals as far as possible. So for all those ~lifestyle~ issues that don’t fall under the categories of food, cosmetics/toiletries and household products, here are some pointers you might find handy:

    • Avoiding leather, silk, wool, fur and other animal derived fabrics/clothes isn’t really all that tricky. Embrace pleather and acrylic knits. They’re cheaper, and look just as good.
    • Shoes can be a bit trickier. I’m probably not the best person to give advice with my ugly-stepsister size 6EEE feet and my high instep (*sob*). I am told there are quite a few excellent retailers of vegan friendly shoes, but I usually buy cheapo synthetic wide fits from shops like New Look, Evans and Yours Clothing. If you are blessed with feet of a size and shape deemed acceptable by conventional society then just google ‘vegan shoes’ and take your pick!
    • When it comes to bags/belts/accessories, once again I tend to stick with cheapo synthetic options. There are some super fancy retailers of lovely vegan items though, and I’ve received some as gifts in the past: Matt & Nat, Ethical Wares, Wilby. Do have a look in regular shops and department stores as well, because they may also offer high quality non leather items!
    • Say what? Charity donations? Well, this dilemma might float in a most unwelcome manner onto your newly vegan radar when folks you know start fundraising for charities that have heinous animal-testing practices. Cancer Research UK, for example. My own suggestion is this: take some time to read about the Dr Hadwen Trust, an excellent charity that actively supports animal-free and human-relevant medical research. You could also read this informative page on the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine site. (Animal Aid have developed a thorough list of charities that fund vivisection and other experiments.) I donate to Dr Hadwen Trust monthly, and whenever I am invited to contribute to a medical charity whose animal-testing practices I am uncomfortable with, I make an extra donation and let that particular friend/colleague know what I’ve done (in the least preachy way possible).
      • E.g. “Hi [Friend]! I wanted to let you know that in honour of your charity run/dryathlon/walk/silence I have made a donation to the Dr Hadwen Trust who fund research into human relevant and non-animal medical research, including [cancer research/diabetes/Alzheimer’s/etc]. I wish you lots of luck and hope you are successful!
    • OMG ARE YOU INTO CRAFTS? Me too! You can totally craft away without getting any sheep involved! Check out the Vegan Yarn Store. Did you know you can buy non-wool felt? Look at this lovely group for vegan crafters on Facebook! Throw away that wool and silk and CRAFT ON!
    • Oh lordy, did someone invite you on a nice day out to the zoo? To Seaworld? To the (greyhound) races? It’s flipping awkward when that happens, and I think most vegan folks can sympathise. Eventually, your friends and family will remember not to invite you to that stuff, but in the meantime, maybe practise your best polite declining. Remember that a lot of people do mean well, and if you decline nicely enough, it might even plant a little seed of critical thinking in someone else. Perhaps you could take them on a nice day out to an animal sanctuary instead?

Be reassured that weird/unforeseen issues happen to all vegans at some point or another, and there are plenty of folks who can offer support and advice.


Oh crumbs. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Vegans and animal rights people can be soul-crushingly ignorant about the wider context of how the oppression of animals is woven into the society we live in. Depending on how familiar you are with delving into the very real and very miserable reality of the frameworks of oppression and discrimination our modern world is rooted in, this might seem a little ‘next level veganism’ to you. However, I think it is SUPER important and so I decided to include some info about how veganism intersects with lots of other social justice issues, and you can choose whether or not to add this stuff to your (perhaps currently large) ‘to think about’ list. Here are just a few ideas:


—– The links between veganism and feminism have long been discussed. The bible here is Carol J Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat. Adams argues that the frameworks of oppression within our society that seek to dominate women intersect with those that dominate and use animals. To tackle one is to tackle the other, and indeed to tackle other forms of oppression too. (Click here to see a lovely animated video where Carol J Adams describes how her veganism and feminism met in the middle….)

PETA has frequently been accused of (negatively) tapping into this intersection in their campaigns, as well as Lush. If you’d like a good solid feminism 101, try giving bell hooks a read. For some critical discussion about whether it’s actually ok to describe dairy as ‘rape’ please see this link.

—– The vegan movement is often rife with body shaming, and a heck of a lot of fat shaming. Being a fat person, and one who took decades to accept their body as it is, this issue is close to home for me. It makes my heart sink when I see veganism promoted as a weight loss diet, or when I see vegans fat-shaming omnivores. One of the first books I read as a vegan was Skinny Bitch, and I gotta tell you, it made me feel pretty crap about myself. Is it a diet book pretending to be a vegan manifesto, or vice versa?

PETA is once again also a guilty party here.

Even vegan doctors have jumped on the bandwagon, and that’s depressing, but not surprising. (To read more about being healthy at any size, check out Health At Every Size.)

Of course, fat vegans are plenty. Veganism ≠ good health and/or slimness.

Fat-shaming and body-shaming are contemptible and we should reject them 100%. Because even if someone is fat, and even if they happen to be unhealthy as well, it’s really none of your business. All bodies are good bodies!

Would you like to meet some amazing folks who are blazing a wee trail at the very intersection between veganism and body-positivity? Here you go:

Please do let me know of any others!

—– The shortage of black voices and/or prominent people of colour in the vegan and animal rights movement is very rightfully oft discussed. (As well as in environmental movements.) But it’s not really my place to tell you about this stuff. Seek out oppressed voices and listen to them! Check out these excellent folks/movements to find out more:

For an excellent discussion of using the language of slavery in animal rights discussions, please see this great article. Once again, please give me a shout if you know of any great sources of information I should add to this list! I, too, am always learning.

Also see this excellent article: Veganism and the Problem of Props. And for ongoing informative content, I would recommend following these Facebook pages:

Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack did an excellent podcast episode about ‘Othering’ and Intersectionality. Listen to it here!

Important N.B.

I wanted to add a little note to mention that I have only touched on a few issues here. I am NOT an expert and I am always learning. Every day I try to learn and grow a little more. Sometimes I find it difficult to engage with some of these topics as successfully as I might because, despite the fact I am working through a Masters degree in Anthrozoology right now, I do occasionally struggle to concentrate on and critically evaluate more traditionally ‘academic’ pieces of writing, or very complex issues. I found this piece about ableism in animal rights movements very interesting. I believe that any movement fighting against oppression should be open and available to all, and not exclude on any grounds. This is something I’ve not looked into or thought about extensively because I’ve developed my own little ways of dealing when it comes to my academic work, but I would highly appreciate any suggestions for further reading or resources that are fully ‘accessible’ to all, and not just those with top notch critical thinking skillz 🙂


FOLKS! Omg. Two of the things on the list are p much now defunct, so I am going to work on alternatives. There are ace spaces on the internet with progressive, open minded, intersectional type vegan folk, I promise.

This bit is still (now) true: I’m collating an uber list of my favourite vegan sites and blogs at the moment and will update here once it’s complete.


For the sake of your own mental health………my advice is a very emphatic “no”.

If you really really REALLY really MUST argue veganism online, why not check out this podcast episode from the amazing Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack.

So there is it, folks. That’s my advice to new vegans, potential vegans, old-hat vegans, and generally anyone who’s at all interested. Please do let me know of any other great resources, apps, websites, etc., that would fit in well here. I hope this post is useful. Please call me out if I have been any shade of ignorant! And remember people, be excellent to each other.

Addendum: Here is some stuff that I haven’t covered (or haven’t covered in great detail) but I totally might possibly potentially do so at some point whilst trying not to start fights. For the record, I’ve added some links to articles which should start a thinking process at the very least. Do your research. Examine your own ethics. Make an informed decision!

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  1. Wow, Jenny, this is an amazing article!!! #8 made me laugh out loud: “Oh crumbs…”

    Thank you for the VWPA podcast shoutout on this killer post, and thanks for all your hard work making such a wonderful resource. I’ll share it out on Facebook today. Let me know if you ever want to guest post on our site, and we’re always happy to write something for you as well! So glad you found us!!!

    1. Aw thanks so much Nichole, I really appreciate it! I would be totally honoured to guest post! My posts are mostly inane (food/dog/makeup) but every now and then my brain slides into gear and I do visit more meaningful areas of discussion 🙂

      I am still powering through your old podcast episodes and enjoying every one!

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