"Vegetarian" Foods: Here’s the Beef

  • The Unwitting Meat Eater

    There are always self-proclaimed vegetarians who dabble a bit in the meat-eating world and vegans who sometimes break their strict rules, but more may be consuming animal byproducts than they think. In fact, everyday foods, household products and cosmetics may contain animal-derived ingredients with chemical names that the average consumer might not associate with animals at all. Here are some of the everyday products that might well contain more “meat” than you’d expect. Photo Credit: Marshall Astor
  • Wine

    Animal byproducts come into play in winemaking during the filtering and clarification process. According to The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, winemakers may use isinglass (an ingredient that comes from fish), gelatin, albumen (from egg), a milk-derived substance known as casein and chitin (which comes from the shellfish exoskeletons). Some winemakers, including those specializing in organic wines, use clarifiers like silica gel that aren’t animal-derived or they employ a centrefuging method, the group says. These are the wines that vegetarians and vegans should search out. Photo Credit: Muffet
  • Beer

    Isinglass, from the swim bladders of fish, is also used in the production of some beers. A true cask ale that appears cloudy may have had its isinglass stirred up from the bottom, the Vegetarian Society says. Some keg beers also use glyceryl monostearate, which comes from animals, to control foaming, the group says. Photo Credit: sashafatcat
    White Sugar
  • White Sugar

    Seemingly harmless white sugar, which may seem omnipresent on grocery store shelves full of packaged foods, is often refined using a substance made with animal bones. About 25% of white sugar used in the U.S. is filtered using bone char, according to Examiner.com. Natural sugars like turbinado or white beet sugar aren’t produced using bone char filtering, however, so vegetarians and vegans with a sweet tooth have alternatives. Photo Credit: kaibara87
  • Margarine

    The hydrogenation process may have been eliminated in the production of some margarines to make it more healthful, but it might still contain gelatin, which comes from the collagen of animal skin, hooves and bones, notes Discovery’s Planet Green blog. Photo Credit: muhammad.u
    Refried Beans
  • Refried Beans

    Checking labels for the word “vegetarian” should probably be a regular habit for consumers who are looking for food free of animal byproducts. For instance, refried beans, one of the delicious and fairly versatile favorites among vegetarians, may actually contain lard, according to Wisegeek. Vegans may be sad to hear that the standard Old El Paso refried beans contain lard. Those without animal byproducts likely use vegetable or peanut oil as a substitute. Photo Credit: jannamordan
  • Crackers

    Popular baked goods, snack crackers and chips can contain beef and pork byproducts like tallow and enzymes. For instance, several Pepperidge Farm products contain these animal-derived ingredients, according to harekrsna.com. That’s right, wave goodbye to your gold fish crackers. Photo Credit: trekkyandy
  • Marshmallows

    S’mores may seem like a safe barbecue or bonfire bet for vegetarians, but marshmallows are made with gelatin made from animal skin and bones diluted in acid, according to Discovery. As an alternative, try vegetarian marshmallows. Photo Credit: wburris
  • Bread

    Besides being made with milk and eggs, making it off-limits for vegans, bread may also be a no-no for some vegetarians. Some bread is made using L-Cysteine enzymes that come from human hair, duck feathers or pigs’ hooves. When used in baked goods, L-Cysteine can reduce the mixing time required for dough and stops products from shrinking when baked, according to one resource for Muslims on a strict diet. Photo Credit: mattburns.co.uk
  • Cheese

    Cheese may seem like fair game for vegetarians and may be one of the luscious, animal-derived luxuries that keep them from going vegan, but it’s often produced using rennet, an enzyme found in cow stomachs. And some rennet is also genetically modified. About 80% to 90% of cheeses made commercially in the U.S. contain rennet, according to Discovery. Photo Credit: Maggie Hoffman
    Yogurt and Sour Cream
  • Yogurt and Sour Cream

    Sour cream may be on every vegetarian’s dinner table and store-bought guacamole and other dips may be favorites at house parties, but all of these products could contain gelatin or rennet, which are animal-derived. And if you think yogurt is a healthful vegetarian choice, be sure to read the ingredients label closely. It could contain gelatin and rennet as well. Photo Credit: surekat
    Soup Bases
  • Soup Bases

    Not all vegetable soup is only made with vegetables. The can of meat-free soup you pick up from a grocery store shelf may actually have a base of chicken stock, and even mushroom soup could be made with beef broth, so you’ll want to check labels very carefully. Many Thai soups not served with meat may contain fish sauce as well, so if you’re ordering in, take a second and ask what they use. Photo Credit: special*dark
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce

    Bloody Mary fans who are strict vegetarians might be disappointed to find that their brunch drink of choice may contain animal products. Worcestershire sauce, which some might consider an essential ingredient in a good Bloody Mary, is made with anchovies. As an alternative, you could try a do-it-yourself anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce and make Bloody Marys at home. Photo Credit: KitAy
    Caesar Salads
  • Caesar Salads

    Whether you’re at a restaurant or you have a store-bought Caesar salad kit, your dressing probably contains anchovies. Kraft (Stock Quote: KFT) Caesar salad dressing, for example, contains the salty fish and some Caesar salad dressings even contain bacon. Photo Credit: WordRidden
    Beauty Products
  • Beauty Products

    Many beauty products contain animal-derived ingredients including placenta and albumin. Placentas, which come from the embryonic fibers of pregnant humans and other mammals, are known to have healing properties and are commonly used as a wrinkle fighter, according to Time Magazine. Strict vegans may have an added challenge of finding products that aren’t made with lanolin, which is made from sheep’s wool, according to the Vegetarian Society. Photo Credit: sunshinecity
  • Soaps

    As many have learned from the movie Fight Club, many soaps are made with fat. Rendered from that fat is tallow, which is also a common ingredient in bar soaps. And, though not likely, tallow made from beef could potentially be contaminated with mad cow disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Nothing makes you feel cleaner than washing your hands in mad cow disease, right? Photo Credit: warrenski
    Omega-3 Supplements
  • Omega-3 Supplements

    Healthy vegetarians and vegans who can’t get all the necessary nutrients from food have to supplement their diets, and that can mean eating foods that have added Omega-3 fatty acids. But not all Omega-3 supplemented foods are made with vegetarian-friendly flax seeds. It could contain fish oil even if it doesn’t smell like it does. Photo Credit: D'Arcy Norman
    Amino Acids
  • Amino Acids

    Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which vegetarians and vegans may take in dietary supplements to make up for what they’re not getting from meat. But the amino acid L-cysteine, which can be used to boost hair and nail health, often comes from human hair, duck feathers and hooves, according to the Vegetarian Resource. Photo Credit: Star5112
    Soy Cheese
  • Soy Cheese

    It’s not surprising that a vegan diet can be challenging, especially if you don’t have many options at the grocery store or at restaurants. There may be an added challenge that vegans, especially the newbies, may not realize is out there. Soy cheese, for instance, may not be completely free of animal byproducts. It often contains casein, a milk protein, to make its texture more like real cheese and to help it melt. After all, we’re pretty sure soybeans don’t melt on their own. Photo Credit: mlinksva
    Plastics and Paint
  • Plastics and Paint

    This one may difficult to avoid. Many plastics and paints are made with casein, which comes from milk. While plastic grocery bags are becoming unpopular and packaged foods are scoffed at in some circles, consumers who don’t want to spend hours researching every little ingredient in the products they use will have to pick their battles. Photo Credit: Bree Bailey
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