What Do You Mean it’s Not Vegan?

Vegan Ingredients

Vegan IngredientsTHUNDER BAY – Food Now – It’s that time again…spring cleaning!  In this month’s blog I propose taking stock of the items you have, and taking a look at the animal products that may be used in their production.  You would be surprised about how many of today’s products use animals products.  To help you out with getting started, I will go through some products that will surprise you in the ingredients they contain.

Vegan Foods

Margarine – Most people would think that margarine is Vegan, but most margarines contain Whey, which is a dairy product.  Thankfully there are many margarine products that are Vegan, such Earth Balance and Becel.

Veggie burgers, sausages, etc. – Some vegetarian ‘meat alternative’ products actually contain eggs and milk.  So, you need read the ingredients and ask servers when ordering in a restaurant.   

Fresh chopped herbs/spices in plastic tubes – Confused…well, some of them contain whey powder.

Worcestershire sauce – It contains fish, but you can easily find Worcestershire sauce without fish.

Some beers and wines – Some beers are filtered with fish swim bladders (isinglass) to make the sediment clear faster. Egg, casein (from milk) and gelatin, are sometimes used to filter wines.  A quick search on the web for vegan beer and wines will provide you with a list of wines and beers that do not have animal products used in their production.

Potato Chips and Rice Crisps – Milk products are often added to many unexpected flavours.  Again, you need to read ingredients to find those without “modified milk ingredients.”

Marshmallows – They contain gelatin, which is a protein obtained by boiling cow or pig skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water.  

Refined Sugar – Contains Animal Bones, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the ingredients as all that is listed is ‘sugar’. Sugar isn’t naturally white, so bone char is used to whiten it.  Brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar is also produced this way.  Don’t worry, it is very easy to find unrefined sugar in many stores, and it can easily replace refined sugar. 

Red Coloured Food – You will be horrified to learn that Beetles…yes the bugs, are found in red food colouring, which is used in many many products.    Red pigments are extracted from the crushed body of the female Dactylopius coccus costa, or cochineal insect.  Red bug dye is typically listed as cochineal, carminic acid or carmine in the ingredients, and it is found in food products such as like candy, juice, vinegar, juice and colored pasta. That’s not the only bug which is finding in your food.  Many candies contain shellac, which is a resin excreted by the lac bug, which is usually listed as ‘confectioner’s glaze’.

Enhanced Juice and Breads–Omega-3 enhanced juices and breads use amino acids from fish oil and gelatin in their products. Also, the vitamin D in some enhanced juices is comes from lanolin, which is oil in the fiber of sheep’s wool.  Yum!!

Of course bread may also contain milk, whey and eggs, so you need to read the ingredients.

Bagels – Always thought bagels were free from animals…think again, they contain bird feathers.  Cysteine (the enzyme L) is used as a dough conditioner in bagels and many bread products, which is usually sourced from duck and chicken feathers.   

Soy Cheese – You would think all soy products would be vegan, but some are not.   Many soy cheeses still contain dairy the milk protein casein. 

I hope I didn’t disgust you with the knowledge of bugs and feathers hiding in your food!  But food just isn’t simple anymore.  Manufactures have found a need to add such odd ingredients to our food, and unfortunately the words “crushed beetles” and “chicken feathers” is not listed as ingredients.  So, even the most fervent label reader would be misled.  So, next time you don’t understand the ingredients listed in your food, jot it down and look it up.  You may be surprised to find how many animal products you are unknowingly consuming. 

Francis Talarico


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