There’s no doubt that making the switch to a totally plant-based lifestyle can be incredibly rewarding. It can also present some significant challenges. Basic living becomes more complicated: What restaurants to eat at? Which hotels to stay at? Where to find vegan-friendly products? Luckily for modern vegans, the power of technology now makes it easier than ever to stick to your principles.
You may not be aware of this, but hiding in your otherwise innocuous glass of vino, pint of beer or favorite highball, are ingredients that are a big no-no for vegans. Isinglass (made from fish bladder), gelatin, eggs, dairy, honey, and many other animal products can actually be found in a large number of common beverages. Guinness porter, Chambord and many ports are all not vegan friendly. Fortunately, Barnivore, which bills itself as ‘your vegan beer, wine and liquor guide, ‘ has a database of over 26, 000+ thousands types of booze that are regularly reviewed so you can instantly check if your drink is vegan-friendly. So useful!
Ever wonder while you are shopping if that beauty or cleaning product you’re after is cruelty-free? Created by the original vegan NGO PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the Bunny Free app lets you know if a company tests on animals. In order to be on the app a company must sign a statement from PETA that both they and their suppliers do not test any products on animals. You can search by company name and also use their bar code scanner, as well as browse their database of animal-friendly brands. You can also filter for 100% vegan companies and you can find companies that are working for regulatory change or active PETA partners. Keep in mind that their database is somewhat limited.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android.
Another app to help you purchase animal-friendly beauty and cleaning products is Cruelty Free, from the people behind the Leaping Bunny Program (which is run by The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC)) that allows you to verify if your favorite products are kind to your favorite four-legged friends. In order to display the Leaping Bunny logo on one of their products, a company must show that it does no animal testing, has a supplier monitoring system and agrees to submit to regular independent third-party audits. You can browse for products by brand name, product type or use their handy bar code scanner, which was able to identify most of the products we use frequently at the Green Queen headquarters.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android.
Finding a vegan-friendly restaurant is a pain familiar to all animal lovers. However, with the app from HappyCow, the world’s largest vegetarian and vegan dining guide, whose website has been a trusted veggie resource since 1999. On the app, you can quickly and easily find vegan, vegetarian and veggie-friendly restos in 175 countries, meaning pretty much everywhere you would travel to. The app actually labels the restaurant with a “vegan”, “vegetarian” and “veg-options” tag to make it easy to find a place that works for you. Here in Hong Kong you can find restaurants, but also shops and organizations, all searchable by location, keyword, veg-type, distance and category.
The app is available for HKD 27 on Android and HKD 28 on iPhone.
Is It Vegan?
Ever feel like you need a science degree to read food labels? Is It Vegan knows that isinglass and carminic acid are anathema to vegans and that xanthan gum is A-ok, meaning you don’t have to worry or memorize hundreds of obscure ingredients. You simply scan the barcode of any food in question and the app shows you the ingredients and tells you if it it contains non-vegan ingredients. Our favorite feature was actually their searchable ingredient database that contains thousands of ingredients and tells you whether or not they are vegan or vegetarian. The only downside is the app only works with processed foods and most of the brands are American: many of the items in the Green Queen kitchen did not have any results. Still, it’s a invaluable resource and a great to way to get better at reading labels.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android but there is also a paid version for USD 4.
The Vegan Passport
Always helpful The Vegan Society has created an app to solve the pesky problem that impacts all vegans, namely: how to confidently eat while traveling. The The Vegan Passport provides a handy graphic reference for foods that are vegan-friendly and those that are strictly off-limits. In addition, the app has a vegan phrase book translated into 79 languages. You can select by language or country, and simply show your phone to whoever is helping you with your meal and rest assured the days of vegan travel anxiety are a thing of the past.
The app is available for HKD 16.48 on Android and HKD 15 on iPhone.
Vegvisits is a home-sharing platform that allows travelers to connect and stay with hosts who share a similar lifestyle, think Airbnb for plant-based folk. The site allows you to find either a place to stay or a kitchen you can prepare your meals in when traveling, and rest assured they are all totally meat-free environments. The kitchen search allows you to find either vegetarian or vegan spaces- you can even check what kind of tools they have, such as dehydrators, spiralizers or juicers, and the pricing can either be by hour or free! If you are looking for a place to stay, you can even filter by the host’s diet, allowing you to connect with someone who will help you make the most out of the city you are visiting. The site is very user-friendly and while options are fairly limited today, given how veganism is taking off worldwide, we are sure veggie tourism will grow as well.
There is no app currently available but just visit their website to explore.
Veggoagogo is an app that is brilliant for its simplicity. Its mission? To provide translated phrases that allow vegan and vegetarian travelers to order at any restaurant or hawker stall in 50+ languages. This is not Google Translate either, all of these translations have been done by actual native speakers so they are accurate and helpful. The app allows you to choose between one of a few key phrases and then translates that phrase into the language of your choice and voila! You can communicate in plant-based! Added bonus: a series of icons display across the screen to clearly state that you want no meat or no seafood.
The Vegetarian Travel iPhone app is available for HKD 23, the Vegetarian & Vegan Travel Bundle iPhone is available for HKD 28, and the HKD 13.89 for Android.