Have you ever looked at an ingredient package and not known if an ingredient is vegan? Have you eaten something only to find out later that one of the ingredients was made from animal products? If you have, you know the feeling that comes with that. The uncertainty makes you run to google to see what else that ingredient is in that you may have previously thought was vegan. You feel guilty because you’ve eaten it. It’s not your fault. Many of us have had this happen. The solution? Learn to spot ingredients that may be hiding in your food that are not vegan.
Here we will look at ten, but I guarantee you, there are many more. Here’s a suggestion….if you read the ingredients and you aren’t sure if one (or more) of the ingredients are vegan, research it! If it didn’t come from the earth, wasn’t grown in a garden or is hard to pronounce (ie: isinglass), chances are, you do not want to eat it. Keep in mind, these products may be in items other than food, such as candles, cleaning supplies or beauty supplies. Let’s look at a few!
- Lard: Here’s an ingredient common in baking. Seems harmless, right? NOT! It’s actually fat from pigs!
- Lanolin: Commonly found in beauty products, it is the waxy substance found on sheep’s fur! Did you know that?
- Casein: This is one of the proteins from milk. Some artists use casein in their paint which would make the paint not vegan. This is an example of a non-vegan ingredient in something we might not even think about.
- Whey: Whey is the other protein found in milk. Whey is found in a lot of products including protein powders that lots of vegans use. Be careful to look out for whey in coffee syrups, as well. (Your barista will happily let you read the bottle!)
- Stearic acid: If you’re worried about wrinkles, chances are you’ve purchased a moisturizer. Make sure it doesn’t include this ingredient made from animal tallow. Ew! (Check your candles, too!)
- Gelatin: I don’t know about you, but when I first became vegetarian and then vegan, I didn’t know about gelatin. Jello is so much fun, how could it not be vegan?? Well, this gelatin comes from the collagen in animal bones. Check your prescription medicine, too! It might be lurking in something that you think is helping you.
- Isinglass: What? This would be the gelatin that comes from fish. This is used in beer, wine and glue! That’s an odd combination!
- Carmine: Eating or drinking something a pretty hue of red? How’d it get that way? We all know to watch out for red colorings, but did you know that carmine is a red coloring made from insects???
- Oleic acid: While this can come from plants, lots of times it comes from animal fats. This is a tricky one. When in doubt, leave it out!
- Beeswax: This name is fairly obvious that it’s not vegan, however, I’ve included it because it’s in much more than we think. I’ve seen it in lip balms, deodorants, candles, cleaners, candy, and beauty products. It’s something to watch out for!
Interesting, huh? There are many, many more! Remember…if you’re not sure where it came from, look it up. Save yourself some inner turmoil when in doubt, don’t use it!
Susan M. Landaira, VLCE holds a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Early Childhood, Childhood and Students with Disabilities. She works as a Special Education Teacher for a School-to-Work Program. Susan is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator and is Coach/CEO of Vegan Teacher LLC. You can find Susan on Facebook, Twitter and on her website Vegan Body Mind and World.