Sometimes we go along thinking that we are eating a healthy vegetarian diet only to find out sometime later that we have been consuming hidden animal products all along. It isn't easy to sort through the endless lists of ingredients in ready made foods, but even some foods we would never suspect can be sources. I always remember the day I found out that my favorite mint (altoids) had gelatin in them. One of my coworkers casually mentioned it to me one day. She was aware of my vegetarian diet and was trying to educate me. It was a real awakening for me. I started checking every food label, learning about the ingredients and began weeding out many of the food choices I previously believed to be animal free. Whether your diet is vegan, vegetarian, flexatarian or meatatarian, knowing what you are eating gives you the power of controlling your diet. Here is a small list of animal ingredients included in many ready made foods.
- Albumin is a protein found in egg whites. It is used in as a thickener in in many processed foods with a creamy texture such as ice cream, puddings, fillings, sauces and salad dressings.
- Anchovies are small fish. You can find these in Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing and Greek salads, pizza toppings.
- Animal shortening, lard, tallow, suet are all animal fats. The list is endless, packaged cookies, crackers, flour tortillas, ready-made pie crusts, refried beans, margarine, pastries, mincemeat are just a few.
- Carmine, carmine cochineal, carminic acid is a red coloring made of ground up insects. It can be found in colored pasta, bottled juices, some candies, frozen ice pops and some cosmetics.
- Casein is a milk protein used as an additive in many dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and even some soy cheeses.
- Gelatin is an animal protein from the bones, skin, cartilage, hooves of animals. Gelatin is found in most yogurts, marshmallows, lots of candies, ice cream, many boxed cereals, jello, gel caps.
- Glucose or dextrose is from animal tissues and fluids, although some can come from fruit. It can be found in baked goods, ice cream, soft drinks and frosting.
- Glycerides, (mono-, di-,and triglycerides) is glycerol from animal or plant sources. Found in processed foods.
- Isinglass is gelatin from the air bladder of sturgeon and other fresh water fish. Used as a clarifying agent in wine and beer.
- Lactic acid, Lactose is a milk sugar or a derivative of milk sugar. Found in Cheese, yogurt, pickles, olives, candy, frozen deserts, fruit preserves, chewing gum, baby formula.
- Lanolin, a waxy fat from sheep's wool is used in chewing gum. It can also be found in many personal hygiene products.
- Lecithin can come from animal tissues, plants or egg yolks. It can be found in non stick cooking sprays, candy, chocolate, boxed breakfast cereals, baked goods and margarine.
- Oleic acid or Oleinic acid comes from animal tallow. It is used in synthetic butter, cheese, vegetable fats and oils, beverages, candy, ice cream and condiments.
- Pepsin is an enzyme from pigs' stomachs used in cheese.
- Rennet is an enzyme from baby calves stomachs. It is used to produce cheese.
- Stearic acid comes from tallow/animal fats. Used in chewing gum, vanilla flavoring, candy, beverages, baked goods.
Sources: Living Vegetarian for Dummies, by Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD
planet green.com, 7 Common Hidden Animal-Derived Ingredients to Avoid