As a vegan, I often find myself looking for the basic non-vegan ingredients: milk, eggs, butter in the ingredients list. If none of those show up, I buy the product.
However, many companies find different and unexpected ways to add animal products into foods that are commonly thought of as vegan.
By: Emma Stessman
I still buy products with these ingredients, forgetting that they may contain some small amounts of an animal byproduct.
So, if you are:
- like me – a long-time vegan who often finds herself inadvertently slipping up
- someone new to the vegan lifestyle who wants to know all about the ingredients to avoid, or
- someone who simply wishes to be more conscious about cruelty-free products…
Here are a few common non-vegan ingredients that you probably want to avoid:
White refined Sugar
Surprisingly, many regularly-used refined sugars are not, in fact, vegan. Bone char, derived from the bones of cattle, is often used to remove the color from sugar and give it a pure white appearance.
Likewise, the production of brown sugar involves adding molasses to refined sugar. And companies often use bone char in the refining process.
Beet sugar, however, is a vegan-friendly alternative that contains no bone char. If you’re wondering whether or not your favorite white or brown sugar is vegan, here’s a list of manufacturers who choose not to use bone char in their sugar production.
Though gelatin is commonly known to be a non-vegan ingredient, it can often be hidden in products. Gelatin is made by boiling various parts of animals, like bones, skin, and cartilage, It is commonly used as a thickener in foods.
Many candies like marshmallows, cereals, jams and jellies, and even frozen vegetables commonly contain gelatin. Gelatin is used to simulate the feel of fat and also to create more volume while maintaining the calorie count of a food item.
Want a gelatin substitute? Check out agar powder, which is used in this oh-so-interesting Raindrop Cake!
Never fear, try vegan beer!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Many foods fortified with omega-3 fatty acids also contain animal byproducts. The omega 3s added to various foods often come from fish – anchovies in particular.
Since the benefits of omega 3s were revealed to the public years ago, many products, including certain orange juices and peanut butters, have added these non-vegan fatty acids into their ingredients list.
Look out for products containing omega-3 fatty acids next time you’re at the grocery store. Opt instead for vegan-friendly omega-3 sources, such as flax seeds or chia seeds.
Check out the Benefits of Chia Seeds and How To Work Them In Your Diet
How do you check to ensure that your food items are vegan? Share with us in the comments below!