The Flaming Vegan

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Foods You May Think Are Vegan But Aren't
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Foods You May Think Are Vegan But Aren't

After my post on why some beer and wine companies aren’t vegan-friendly and why vegans shouldn’t consume white sugar, I chose to take on another task: find out what else may seem vegan, but isn’t. Here is what I came up with:

1- Any packaged cake, including cake mixes.

Well, most of us wouldn’t eat them anyways because they usually contain eggs and/or milk products, but even vegetarians should steer clear of them: they very often contain beef fat, listed in the ingredients as lard. The savvy readers out there might already be aware, but for others, this may be the reason to start.

2- Red candies.

They use crushed beetles to make the colouring for red candies. Ew. Same goes for most foods with red colouring in them.

3- Orange juice.

Who would think that a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice would be packed with non-vegan products? Well, Tropicana decided that their heart healthy version would have fish oil in it. That’s where the omegas come from. Be mindful of any Coca-Cola company juices as they, too, often pack them with lanolin or fish oil.

4- Refried beans.

Read the ingredients because several brands add lard in them. However, I would also stay away from any company that indicates ‘natural flavours’ in the list as well because they don’t say what they used.

5- Enhanced breads.

Want healthy bread? Stick to those that say ‘flax-seed bread’ instead of ‘omega bread’. The omegas are usually fish based. Also, several brands add milk, honey, eggs, and other dairy products to enhance flavour. Once again, stay away from any item that only says ‘natural flavours’.

6- Bagels.

Although most of us are aware that some bagels contain eggs and dairy products, they may also contain… bird feathers. The enzyme L. Cysteine is added as a dough conditioner and is also found in Pizza Hut’s garlic bread and some of McDonald’s baked products.

7- Margarine.

Even if it says that it’s a ‘100% vegetable base’ margarine, the flavours might not be. They often add whey, casein and gelatine in them.

8- Packaged peanuts

Planters peanuts are coated with a gelatine that makes them taste extremely salty. Other companies might be doing the same. To stay on the safe side, buy organic peanuts, or go to a bulk food store.

9- Soy cheese

If your cheese is not labelled ‘vegan’, don’t buy it. It contains whey or casein. Many only have ‘dairy-free’ on the label, and although this should be enough, legally it means ‘no lactose’. The purpose is to provide cheese to lactose-intolerant people, but they don’t care about casein or whey. We do.

10- BBQ flavoured chips

Nope, they’re not vegan. Or most aren’t. Apparently, most companies decided that BBQ just isn’t the same without chicken fat. Watch out for any other flavours as well as many will also contain whey or even lactose.

11- Soups

Be very mindful of vegetable soups in restaurants and ready-made from the grocery store, or in cans, pouches and boxes. Even though they seem vegan, several, especially Campbell’s and in many restaurants, add meat broth to them. Always ask to double-check and, when in doubt, skip the soup.

12- Salad dressing

Sadly enough, even the vegan’s most popular condiment (they call us rabbit-food-eaters, after all!) is often not vegan. Apart from the obvious cream-based ones, many contain bacon fat, especially in restaurants (once again). As for vegetarians, remember that Caesar dressings contain anchovies. To be on the safe side, Italian and Balsamic vinaigrettes are most often vegan, or better yet, ask them to put it on the side or ask for the actual bottles of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

13- Worcestershire Sauce

It’s made with anchovies. Annie’s Naturals makes a great vegan one.

14- Tortillas

Always check as these are traditionally made with lard. Most companies stopped adding it, but some restaurants stick to the old recipe.

15- Vegetarian meats

Well, I thought these might be safe, but even if your veggie burgers aren’t cheese-flavoured, they might still contain dairy or even eggs. Better check the labels before buying.

16- Herb mixes

I am talking about the ones that are mixed with oil and come in jars and tubes. They make it easier, but many contain whey.

17- Sweet and Sour sauce

Anchovies. Make your own – it’s actually not hard.

18- Naan bread

I ate it in the early days of being a vegan until I read the ingredients of one that was flavoured, and then decided to read the plain one, for the heck of it. And wanted to cry. I adore Naan bread and am sad to have to stop.

19- Pasta

Although most are, some contain eggs, especially fresh pasta. Most of the dry ones do not contain eggs, but it’s always better to read than have to give away yet another non-vegan product.


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  1. pftsusan
    #2. Very informative. Also read the ingredients on the cans marked Vegetarian beans before you buy them in the grocery store. They are often packed with sugar, that comes from animal bone char. Always stay organic or close to it.
  2. Mark T
    I didn't know about some of these. :( Refried beans and peanuts?!
  3. SnakeWitch
    Some of these I didn't know about, either. I'll have to watch out for the peanuts... Voted!
  4. Veganara
    Voted. Thanks for this article Anita, very valuable information. Shocking though, how long the list of foods is! I had no idea. I will be running out of things to eat fairly soon! At least I am used to checking food labels now though. You might like my latest blog, Feathered Friends, please take a look! :-)
  5. Shabs Online
    Shabs Online
    You did good research present to us this great post loaded with lots of valuable info, Anita..Thnz! One more thing that I'd like to add to this list is - Sago it's manufacture process is not vegan at all....ofcourse it is made of Tapioca roots but with lots of eels as well..that get mixed to it, in the process!:-| I Voted #9
  6. mystic40s
    way to ruin my day! lol


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