25 Surprising Non-Vegan Foods

It can be intimidating to go vegan.  Believe me, I know!  After 8 months as a vegetarian and researching veganism almost daily I thought I knew without a doubt what foods were and were not vegan.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  Over the past 2 and a half years eating a plant based diet I have come across many non-vegan foods that shocked me.  And while I was lucky enough to discover the majority of these foods before eating them, not everyone does.   Food companies love to include animal products in everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.  They even sneak them into "vegan" products!  Here is a list of 25 surprising non-vegan foods to avoid.

  1. Beer... many brands use a membrane derived from the bladders of fish to filter their brews. Check out Barnivore to find out if your favourite beer (or wine, or liquor) is cruelty-free!
  2. White Sugar... some brands process their sugar using bone char to give it its bright white colour (watch out for brown sugar too; it may be processed as white sugar and then have molasses added to make it brown).  Always buy beet sugar (not refined using bone char) or organic cane sugar (bone char is not considered organic).
  3. Non-Dairy Creamer... can contain milk-derived ingredients such as caseinate.
  4. Red Dye... a popular brand of red dye called Carmine (often listed as Natural Red #4 in ingredient lists) is coloured using the scales of tiny insects.
  5. Jello... contains gelatin which is derived from animal bones, connective tissues, and organs.
  6. Vitamin D Fortified Foods... the source of vitamin D may be lanolin, derived from sheep's wool.
  7. Chewing Gum... often contains animal-derived glycerin.
  8. Cake Mix... may contain beef fat (often listed as lard in the ingredients).
  9. Worcestershire Sauce... traditionally contains anchovies.
  10. Apple Juice... may be clarified with isinglass (obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish).  This one I find especially disturbing, having been a HUGE apple juice fan as a child.
  11. Jam... may contain gelatin.
  12. Tortillas... traditionally made with lard.
  13. Marshmallows... often contain gelatin.
  14. Margarine... may contain gelatin, casein (milk protein), or whey. 
  15. Frosted Mini Wheats... contains gelatin.
  16. BBQ Chips... may contain traces of milk or animal fat.
  17. Vitamins and Supplements... often contain animal products.  Read the ingredients carefully!
  18. Orange Juice... can be fortified with omega 3s derived from fish.
  19. Refried Beans... traditionally made with lard.
  20. Bagels... the enzyme L. Cysteine is used as a dough conditioner and is derived from poultry feathers.
  21. Packaged Peanuts... may contain gelatin. 
  22. Soy Cheese... may contain casein.  Just because a product's only purpose would seem to require its veganism does not mean it's animal product free!  Make sure to read the ingredients carefully, even on "vegetarian" and "vegan" products.
  23. Altoids... contain gelatin.
  24. Pad Thai... often contains fish sauce.  Be sure to ask!
  25. French Fries... may be fried in animal fat.

You Might Also Like: 10 Reasons To Go Vegan!

Lucky for us many brands provide vegan options of these foods.  Make use of google and sites like Vegetarians in Paradise to investigate brands or products, and always read the ingredients!

Until next time,

Plant Based Bride

Which food surprised you most?  Is there a surprisingly non-vegan food I missed?  Let me know in the comments below!

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