Grocery stores carry a wide selection of vegetarian options, some that you might not even be aware of yet! Lots of foods, like veggie burgers, chicken-free chicken patties, and faux frankfurters are marketed directly to vegetarians and labeled accordingly. There’s also a ton of tasty snacks and meal options offered by mainstream food manufacturers that are safe for vegetarian consumption!
Although there’s probably more meat-free options than those that contain meat, it is important to always check the label. Seemingly innocent products like birthday cake, chips, dips and even beer can be hiding unexpected animal products! Ingredients like beef fat, fish gelatin, and even bird feathers can be found in the following items, so carefully read the nutrition panel before you hit that checkout line.
Cesar Salad Dressing
If you’re not open to eating fish, cesar dressing is a no-go. Depending on the brand of dressing you select, you could be eating anchovies, bacon, and parmesan cheese. You’re best bet is to check the label and be sure that the ingredients go along with whatever form of vegetarianism you chose to follow.
Many soups are made with a chicken, beef or fish stock base. Sneaky soups like Campbell’s Vegetable soup is made from beef stock among many others!
Most worcestershire sauce is made with anchovies. Luckily, Annie’s Natural’s does sell a vegan version that can be subbed into your favorite recipes.
Standard baked beans are made with a specific cut of pork to enhance flavor, but as long as you reach for the can that’s marked “vegetarian” you can enjoy your beans as frequently as your heart desires.
Store-Bought Baked Goods
This might be a little graphic, but the process of sugar refinery involves filtering it through burned cattle bones. This removes any unwanted color from the sugar, giving it it’s white, pearly appearance. Doing a little bit of research into which brands use animal-friendly sugar will prevent you from buying from these companies, or you can make your own cakes and cookies at home with your own animal-friendly sugar! For more information on the process of sugar refinery check out this article from the Vegetarian Resource Group.
Although most tortilla companies no longer use animal lard to make their flat little roll-ups, it’s definitely worth looking into. Authentic Mexican restaurants are much more likely to use animal lard in making homemade tortillas so be sure to get the scoop before you order.
Jello contains gelatin which is a commercially sold emulsifier made from a combination of cattle bones, cattle hides, pig skins, and fish bones. Not exactly vegetarian so stay clear! Other products that commonly contain gelatin are:
“Lite” or low fat foods
soft gel capsules used in the pharmaceutical industry
Although the candy man is a wonderful guy who filled our bunny baskets and Christmas stockings with delicious little treats for years, he’s also been filling our bodies with bugs! Red candies, wine, vinegar, dyed pasta, or anything with a red color that doesn’t occur naturally should be carefully examined before consuming. Cochineal, carminic acid, or carmine are all sneaky ways of saying red dye extracted from the female cochineal insect! Check out this link to explore more about the Food and Drug Administrations rules about cochineal insects or this one for information from the Food Standards Agency about the safety concerns with consuming them.
Could it be? Orange juice may appear innocent, but could be hiding ingredients like fish oil, gelatin, and lanolin. “Heart healthy” juices often contain omega-3′s and, like Tropicana’s Heart Healthy Orange Juice may be getting those omega fatty acids from sources like fish oil and gelatin.Check the label for “Vitamin B12″ which could come from fish sources. In addition, some Coca-Cola products have been found to contain lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool and is typically labeled as “Vitamin D” or “lanolin derived Vitamin D”.
I couldn’t believe this when I read it, but Dunkin Donuts confirmed in 2007 that they have been using poultry feathers as a dough conditioner in all of their bagels and many of their other products. Check out the fast food and chain ingredient update from the Vegetarian Resource Group for more information on other chains that could be using this, or similar ingredients. ( VRG News )
Barbecue flavored chips like Lays Baked Barbecue Chips contain chicken fat, easily missed without carefully scanning the label.
Unfortunately, your Friday night brew might not be completely vegetarian. Lots of beers undergo a clarification system that use isinglass- fish bladders. Most of the time, isinglass doesn’t end up in the finished product but in the case of Guinness Draught, it does. No need to fret, you can still enjoy a vegetarian cold one by sifting through the Barnivore Beer Directory .
Whether you’re a brand new vegetarian or a seasoned professional, you’re bound to make a few mistakes here and there. All of the above items are things that I, myself or other vegetarian friends have consumed without knowing. You should be proud of the fact that you’re one of the few people that is concerned enough about what they’re eating to finish reading this tedious blog post. Consider all mistakes as lessons learned and move on.
For even more information about ingredients or vegetarianism in general, follow this link to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s Guide to Food Ingredients.