I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat better as of late, both from an ethical and a health perspective. While the reasons behind this really deserve a post of their own (and one will be forthcoming, probably within the next few days), I wanted to express some dismay about my breakfast. About a month and a half ago, Katy and I made the transition to a vegan diet. I have been searching for foods that are both filling and wholesome, and I thought I had found a perfect meal in Thomas Light Multigrain English muffins. They are 100 calories, have 1/3 of your daily recommended fiber intake, are reasonably low in carbohydrates and sodium, and taste pretty darn good. I would have one half with Cascadian organic blackberry jam, and the other half with Maranatha almond butter. All told, my breakfast clocked in at about 240 calories and I was mildly hungry by lunchtime, but only in the “boy lunch sure sounds good” sense rather than a “dear lord my stomach is devouring itself” sense.
I was caught by surprise last night when Katy brought up the fact that the English muffins are not vegan. I checked, and sure enough it clearly says “Whey (milk)” and “non-fat milk” in the ingredient list. What’s annoying about this is that we both have become very vigilant about checking the ingredient lists of things we eat now, going so far as to check ingredients we’re unsure/have never heard of to verify that they do not come from animal derived sources. I could have sworn that I checked the ingredient list, but apparently I just zoned out or imagined doing that. My first instinct was to just replace the English muffin with a bagel thin, as they are roughly the same calorie-wise. However, after checking the ingredient list this morning, it turns out that they (and many other bagel/English muffin/bread products) have Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, which is one of those ambiguous “maybe vegan, maybe not” that may have animal byproducts or could be 100% plant derived. Since most manufacturers do not feel it necessary to clearly label whether it is vegan or not, and standing in a grocery aisle at 6:45AM is not generally the best time to call a company and ask them about the source of their sodium stearoyl lactylate (not to mention the low likelihood of getting anyone on the phone who would actually know the answer, regardless of the time), I chose to err on the side of caution. I started looking at other brands, having found 3 that include ingredients that are clearly or ambiguously not vegan, and I was pleasantly surprised that Kroger whole wheat English muffins had the shortest ingredient list out of all the products I saw, and appeared to be vegan as well! I spent about 5 minutes looking up various ingredients to verify, and then flipped the package over and noticed that it is clearly labeled on the front as vegan! Happy day! They are about 30 calories more than the Thomas English muffins, but that’s a small price to pay in my opinion.
It’s great to see Kroger providing options for people with special dietary restrictions, and they have minimized their packaging (just a plastic bag vs. a plastic bag and cardboard for other brands). Way to go, Kroger!