After being vegetarian for two years and vegan for two more, I thought I had the lifestyle perfected. Of course I have the occasional accidental slip up, but upon a little more digging, some things that aren’t vegan friendly have astounded me.
Wines and beers
Beers, wines and ciders can often contain ingredients derived from animals due to their use in the clarification process. Many are clarified using isinglass (which is found in the swim bladders of fish, chitosan ( part of the exoskeleton of crustaceans) or gelatin.
Luckily, most supermarkets state online the brands of alcohol that are suitable for vegans, and if they don’t Barnivore is a great database to use.
Sugar, a plant right? Despite this, during processing, many sugars are whitened using the char from cattle bones… Yum! The good news is there are many great natural sweeteners, from agave to date syrup, so satisfying coffee and cakes can still be enjoyed.
Red dye #4 (E120), is a popular ingredient in red sweets. However, before enjoying, you might want to check that is doesn’t contain said dye. E120 is made of carmine, which is derived from the bodies of insects.
Enriched foods (juices, cereals)
Many foods that have are designed to be ‘heart healthy’ contain omega 3, typically sourced from fish. Be sure to check before you buy, as many popular brands such as Tropicana add this to their products.
Worcester sauce, a popular ingredient in Caesar dressings, usually contains anchovy. Be sure to check the labels as some are vegan friendly. Other sauces, such as pesto contain cheese, but great ‘free from’ alternatives do exist in many stores.
Many crisps, even ones that you might think were vegan friendly, contain animal products, including milk powders and fats. Luckily for me, even though I had to say goodbye to my favourite salt and vinegar pringles, there are great vegan alternatives.
While many peanuts are vegan friendly, some (especially coated ones) contain animal products including milk and gelatin.
Many brands use gelatin in the process of making their gum, but there are some that do not. Health food shops typically sell gum that doesn’t contain animal products, which are also sweetened naturally meaning you can avoid nasty chemicals too!
Even many people’s favourite soft drinks can be unsuitable for vegans as they contain the thickener glycerol or animal derived dyes. Sunkist orange and diet pepsi are just a couple of examples of drinks that aren’t vegan friendly.
While you may think taking vitamins is healthy and inconspicuous, many contain animal derived products including gelatin and milk. There are some great vegan friendly brands, so you don’t have to go without!
Probably the biggest shocker for me when I went vegan was the fact that tattoo ink contained animal products. Animal bones are sometimes burnt down to add to black ink, and animal fat is often used within the carrying agent.
There are vegan ink options, so be sure to ask your artists before getting any work done.
While this all may seem pretty overwhelming, being vegan is actually very easy once you get used to checking out labels and stop being afraid to ask people if you are unsure. If you know of any other interesting/ surprising products, be sure to leave them in a comment below.