[iOS] VegScan takes the guesswork out of shopping vegan… kind of

mzl.fnixcirs.320x480-75We are currently living in a world where meat pies don’t necessarily contain any meat, and “beef” burgers might contain horse. In other words, it’s a good time for an app that helps you to analyze the foods you’re about to buy and eat. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can take comfort in knowing that there is a food labeling app that can help you determine in an instant if a food product is okay for you to eat. The app is called VegScan, and it is absolutely free.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Point your iPhone’s camera at an item’s barcode. VegScan will read the bar code and let you know if the product is vegetarian or vegan. Scan an item and if it’s not in the database, you can add it yourself!


  • A great way to determine whether an item meets your dietary restrictions
  • More than just a tool: VegScan is fostering a sense of community. You earn points, rank and achievement badges for adding items and voting on items that other people have added.
  • Anyone can add a scanned item to the shared database


  • Hasn’t been updated since 2010
  • Seems like there are some big holes in the database
  • Camera seems to take a long time to focus
  • Annoying banner ads that seem to conflict harshly with the vegetarian ethos of this app (Seriously, y’all? A McDonald’s ad?)
  • Design badly in need of a spruce-up
  • There are no guidelines for what “vegan” and “vegetarian” mean: that means people could be erroneously adding “vegetarian” items to the database
  • MAJOR account creation issues (more on that below)


mzl.lmyatzvj.320x480-75I had heard really good things about a different vegetarian market scanner…but it was a paid app, which is why I opted for VegScan instead. Apparently, you pay for what you get. This app has a major problem, as I discovered when I tried to sign up for a new account.

Here’s what happened: I entered my desired user name, password, and email. But my desired user name wasn’t available. No sweat, I’ll just change the user name slightly, I thought. But then, I got an error message: because I had already used that email to start the account creation process, I had to use a different email! I changed my email, and then picked a different user name for good measure, and ended up repeating the process. What a nightmare!!!!!

More troubling, there are no guidelines for what “vegan” and “vegetarian” mean for the purposes of this app: that means people could be erroneously adding “vegetarian” items to the database. I know plenty of people who call themselves vegetarians, but eat eggs, or milk. And what about foods like figs: they’re fruit, so they should be vegan, right? But because the wasps that pollinate fig plants are sometimes trapped in the flowers and “digested” by the fig, many vegans won’t eat figs! If you are going to give people the power to declare an item as vegan or not vegan, you need to establish some guidelines so that everyone is on the same page!

Conclusion and download link

With nary an update since 2010, it’s clear that the developers aren’t invested in this app, or in fostering a real sense of community. If you can get past the annoying signup process and deal with the slow camera, this app still has some value. But beware any “okays” that you get from the app: with no in-app guidelines for declaring an item to be vegan or vegetarian, you need to be vigilant.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.1

Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, iOS version 4.0 or later

Download size: 1.4 MB

VegScan on Apple App Store

Related Posts