Yes - vegan Doritos!
I try not to be a junk food vegan, and I'm trying to eat more raw foods. But when a friend told me about these vegan Doritos, I could not resist.
The Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, in a purple bag, are vegan. They are spicy and sweet and have that distinctive powdery Doritos texture, and they are very yummy. But what about the "natural flavor" listed in the ingredients? I called Frito-Lay, and they told me that there are no animal products in the natural flavor and that the Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos contain no animal products.
Corporations are usually forthcoming if you call them with a question about their products. I also called Barilla about their Tomato & Basil sauce and their Marinara sauce, which appeared to be vegan but listed "natural flavor" on the label. They told me that the "natural flavor" is one or a combination of ingredients that are already listed in the ingredients list. (Addendum: This statement applies only to Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce and Barilla Marinara sauce, and not to the term "natural flavor" in general, as explained in the next paragraph and in comment #1 from Mr. Lucas Brice, below.) Barilla also told me, "We don't have any hidden ingredients," but because the exact ingredients list is proprietary, they could not tell me exactly what the "natural flavor" is. They did warn me that the Tomato & Basil sauce and Marinara sauce are made on the same line as sauces containing cheese, and even though everything is washed in between batches, there is a chance for cross-contamination.
The news is not always good, and I'm grateful when a company is honest about their ingredients. My first encounter with "natural flavor" was actually about 20 years ago, when a friend of mine called Near East, and was told that the natural flavor in one of their rice mixes was freeze-dried beef. And before Sonic listed nutritional information on their website, I called and asked if their french fries were vegan. They are not - there is an animal product in the coating on the french fries. And today, you can see on their website one big tip-off that the fries are not vegan: they contain cholesterol.
Unfortunately, you won't always get an answer when you contact a company. I've tried four times - two phone messages and two emails - to find out whether the new Apple iPad contains coltan, but Apple does not respond.
Photo ©Doris Lin 2010, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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