I wouldn't recommend assuming anything about your food. Learn about it, or better yet, take control of it. If you've prepared it in your own kitchen, you can be a lot more confident that it doesn't have animal in it than if all you know about the food is what you read on the label.
a lot of places just don't label things.. you get familiar with animal ingredients after a while but until then, you could carry around a list of the most common ingredients (a quick google search and you'll find a list..) or just search it on your phone when you're shopping
Hi! I'm newly vegetarian so take my reply with a grain of salt, but I think that buying the dry baggies of beans in the market is an excellent way to insure that they're meat free. They are also usually cheaper in my market than the canned ones, they don't have all the extra preservatives which means less salt! woohoo! lol. tyring buying a baggie and cooking up a big portion to use during the week. That way you can just grab um and munch away. :) Best of luck!
Hi and congrats on your journey. My family has been vegan about 3 months now and definitely takes time to get the hang of what not to buy. Label reading is a must but as others said some companies just don't write everything. I would have to agree that making it yourself is the safest way to go. Otherwise try to familiarize yourself with the ingredients to avoid and read read read those labels. ;) BEANS: You have to soak them most of the time then boil/cook them. The directions for cooking are usually on the package. Some need no soaking, while others are best if soaked overnight.
Best to soak most types of beans. The standard seems to be an overnight soak, although many could benefit from much longer soaking times (to reduce phytic acid and other antinutrient content, and to make them easier in to digest in the long run). I'm sure you can found loads of sites online with instructions for different beans, or on the packages themselves, as others have pointed out. Typically the process seems to be: 1) Soak for x hours. 2) Cook in fresh water, on a stove top. Either bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer (or cook over low heat) until cooked through (most beans take over an hour, but there are definitely exceptions, and lentils and split beans cook much faster). 3) Drain and enjoy!
As for canned beans - just check the ingredients list? Most don't contain animal products, I would think, unless they are in a chili mixture or something. (Often the ingredients are the beans, sodium chloride (or salt), and/or sodium EDTA.) I used to use them a lot before realizing how cost effective cooking beans from scratch is. (And cooking them yourself ensures you avoid any BPA that may leach into canned beans from the lining in those cans!)
Consider investing in a pressure cooker if you plant to cook lots of beans. It saves you from having to do the overnight soak (which I usually forget) and cooks them in about 20 minutes.
I usually soak a huge batch over night. Then in the morning I dump out the soaking water and rinse 3 times until the water is clear. I boil them in a large pot. Make sure you check on them periodically to make sure you keep enough water in the pot so they don't burn. I like to make a giant batch so I can freeze 1 cup bags worth.
I've heard good things about a pressure cooker but something about them makes nervous. Ive had lots of luck just soaking and boiling them.
Oh and I like to throw a thumb size piece of kombu (sea vegetable) in too while it boils. It helps neutralize the acids in the beans.