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Don’t mix turmeric and heart meds.

Popular brand names:

  • Suma
  • Nature’s Best
  • Nature’s Garden
  • Opti-Turmeric

Generic name:  Turmeric.

Active ingredient: Naturally occurring curcuminoids.

Can you make it? You can grow it at home.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

None if you buy fairtrade.

Health concerns?

Turmeric has long been advocated for heart conditions, and its effectiveness has been proven in clinical trials.

That said, like any medicine, traditional or manufactured, if it works it might interact with other things you take. Turmeric thins the blood. So if any of your medications for heart, blood sugar, anemia, or digestive conditions thin blood too, or cause minor bleeding, do not mix them. It could cause a heart attack.

Alternative brands:

  • Countless generic and wholefoods options.

Are there store brands?

Yes, look in the herbal remedies or spices sections.

What does “Soap Free” mean?

Popular brand names:

  • Avene
  • Carex
  • Dove
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Sanex
  • Weleda

Generic name: Soap-free cleansing gel.

Active ingredient: Emulsifiers.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

None located.

Health concerns?

Soap is made of combining fats and caustic (strongly alkaline) substances, such as lard and lye. This creates an emulsifier that dissolves the oil on our skins and therefore remove dirt stuck to that oil, but can also be very harsh on the skin and the environment, as well as potentially containing animal products.

Soap-free soap is made of alternative emulsifiers, which can be PH-neutral and ethical, though always check the label!

Alternative brands:

  • A-Derma
  • Allergenics
  • Beauty RX
  • Cetaphil
  • Jurlique
  • Pear’s

Are there store brands?

Some, but they’re rare.

Why isn’t white sugar vegetarian?

Popular brand names:

  • Billington’s
  • Silver Spoon
  • Tate & Lyle

Generic name: White/table sugar.

Active ingredient: Cane or beet extract.

Can you make it? It would be complicated, but in theory you could.

Vegan?

White sugar is not natural. All sugars naturally have an orange, brown, or gold colour. White sugar is filtered through the ash of animal bones to remove its colour.

Furthermore, some brown sugars are white sugar with added molasses, so pick your brands carefully.

Naturally, avoiding all white sugar is impossible unless you eliminate all processed foods, but it’s worth considering that white sugar is part of the meat industry and making your own ethical decision.

Halal?

I am not sure whether white sugar is filtered through the char of halal or haram bones. However as no bone remains in the finished product, it may be considered halal by most.

Ethical concerns?

Sugar farms can be very bad for workers. Whatever sugar you buy, try and buy beet or cane sugar from your own country to minimize abusive labour practices and deforestation.

Palm sugars are a leading cause of deforestation and a threat to endangered species in many countries. Palm sugars also go by the names jaggery or piloncilo, although not all sugars under this name are palm: some are coconut or cane. Read the ingredients to check.

Health concerns?

Sugar is not the bogeyman many claim it is, but consuming too much refined sugar can be harmful to your digestive tract, promote diabetes and weight gain, cause inflammation, and damage your teeth.

Alternative brands:

  • Biona (fairtrade, organic, raw, vegan)
  • Equal Exchange (fairtrade, organic, raw)
  • Florida Crystals (vegan, organic)
  • Suma (organic, raw)
  • Traidcraft (vegan, fairtrade, raw)

And consider coconut, demarera, sucanat, muscovado or turbinado sugar as an unfiltered alternative to white sugar. “Brown sugar” is most likely white sugar with molasses added back in.

Are there store brands?

Yes, there are store versions of most types of sugar.

Why has Campbell’s recalled 3,600 cans of soup?

Brand: Campbell’s.

Product: Home Style Soup – Chicken with whole grain pasta.

Product details: BBE Feb 13th 2019. EST.4R.

Recall area: USA.

Reason: Labelling error. They contain milk, but this is not listed in the ingredients.

Risk: Milk is a known allergen and is also avoided by many for ethical reasons.

Questions: Direct to USDA. 866-400-0965.

Vitamins = Healthy?

 Popular brand names:

  • Dawn (vitamins)
  • Flora (omegas, calcium)
  • Kellogg’s cereals (vitamins and minerals)
  • Nesquick (calcium, minerals)
  • Tropicana (vitamins)
  • Vitaminwater (vitamins)
  • Welch’s (calcium)
  • Wonderbread (minerals)
  • Seriously, so many brands are adding vitamins, minerals, and EFAs to their foods!

Generic name: Multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Active ingredient: Added nutrients.

Can you make it? You can have a multivitamin alongside your unfortified food for the same effect.

Vegan?

Some supplements, such as vitamin D or calcium, are usually not vegan in origin.

Halal?

Some supplements come from shellfish and are therefore haram.

Ethical concerns?

Companies are adding nutrients to low-nutrition foods, like cereals, white breads, sugary drinks, or chocolate, and selling it as a healthy food. In reality, if you ate the unfortified version and had a supplement you would get the same effect!

Health concerns?

It’s up to you to decide whether you would eat these foods if they were not fortified. If you would not, consider adding a multivitamin to your regular diet instead of buying a brand with fortified foods.

Also, bear in mind that not all supplements work. With supplement pills you can check them to see if they’re likely to be digestible, but you never know the origin or bio-availability of supplements in food. For all you know, the fortification could be impossible for your body to absorb!

Alternative brands:

Countless brands fortify their foods, this doesn’t mean the food is good.

Are there store brands?

Yes, many store brands also fortify their foods.

What goes into Nescafé decaf?

Popular brand names:

  • Carte Noire
  • Illy
  • Kenco
  • Lavazza
  • Nescafé
  • Tassimo

Generic name: Decaffeinated coffee.

Active ingredient: Coffee beans, green or roasted.

Can you make it? Yes. You can soak fresh coffee beans in warm water, lightly steam them, strain them, pass the liquid through activated charcoal, and then resoak your beans before drying them properly. The more times you repeat this, the lower the caffeine content would be.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

So long as you are not addicted, which is very unlikely with decaf coffee!

Ethical concerns?

Coffee farming can be unethical. Always look for coffee that is Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade certified.

Health concerns?

It still has a little bit of caffeine, and some decafs are decaffeinated with a solvent, which has a correlation with cancer.

Alternative brands:

  • Cafedirect (Fairtrade)
  • Clipper (Fairtrade)
  • Equal Exchange (Fairtrade, Solvent-Free)
  • Mount Hagen (Fairtrade)
  • Percol (Fairtrade)

Are there store brands?

Yes, most supermarkets stock their own brand.

Are baby walkers safe?

Popular brand names:

  • Bright Starts
  • Babymoov
  • Chicco
  • Fisher Price

Generic name: Baby walker.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

Try and ensure your company sources its elements ethically. Again, like with carseats, there are no ethical certificates proving that walkers were not made in sweatshop settings.

Health concerns?

Believe it or not, so much as owning a baby walker is illegal in Canada. Why? Because they have been found to delay babies’ physical and mental development and cause injuries.

Why do other countries still sell them? Probably for the same reason these countries sell fabric children’s “carseats” and cot bumpers (I will write about these in the future): because company profit and consumer freedom comes before infant safety. So it’s up to you, but personally I cannot advocate using a baby walker. Try a fixed-place activity centre instead.

Alternative brands:

  • Babylo
  • Brevi
  • Casdon
  • Chad Valley
  • King Baby
  • Red Kite
  • My Child

Are there store brands?

Yes, most baby stores like Mothercare stock their own brand.

Are i-Size carseats safe?

Popular brand names:

  • Britax
  • Joie
  • Maxi-Cosi

Generic name: i-Size car seat.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

As long as the components are 100% plant or plastic based.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

Make sure your manufacturer uses factories that work ethically. There is currently no car seat with ethical certification, for example FairTrade.

Health concerns?

Some i-Size car seats have failed the Which? testing. The Nuna Rebl i-Size failed their tests and was rated a “Do Not Buy”. Don’t assume that i-Size certification guarantees safety, and always check with other assessors, like Which?

Alternative brands:

  • Jane
  • Concord
  • Cosatto
  • Cybex
  • Ferrari
  • Ladybird
  • Nania
  • Recaro

Are there store brands?

Yes, many baby stores such as BabiesRUs or Mothercare have their own brands.

Does it have to be Calpol?

Popular brand names: Calpol.

Generic name: Paracetamol oral suspension / ibuprofen oral suspension / infant pain/fever relief.

Active ingredient: Paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Can you make it? No, do not give infants or children adult painkillers.

Vegan?

Any pink one contains carmine, derived from beetles.

Halal?

As pink ones contain carmine, these are haram.

Ethical concerns?

Animal testing was used to derive the product, and the parent company continues to use animal testing. However most medicines containing everyday painkillers have not involved animal testing for over 20 years.

Health concerns?

Paracetamol versions are safe for most children, ibuprofen versions are only at the discretion of your doctor.

Most are now sugar-free.

Alternative brands:

  • Medinol (no carmine)
  • Panadol (no carmine)
  • Sab Simplex

Are there store brands?

Yes, in most big supermarkets and pharmacies.

Is Dettol made with bleach?

Popular brand names:

  • Cif
  • Clorox
  • Dettol

Generic name: Bleach-free disinfectant.

Active ingredient: Chloroxylenol.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

No, big brands above use animal testing.

Halal?

Big brands use animal testing.

Ethical concerns?

Harmful to some life forms, including cats.

Health concerns?

None if used moderately, but if you ingest it in any amount or breathe in many fumes it is toxic.

Alternative brands:

  • Auro (eco-conscious)
  • Ecover (eco-conscious)
  • Ecozone (eco-conscious)
  • HG
  • Problem Solved (eco-conscious)
  • Selden

Are there store brands?

Yes, many.

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