17 common foods that may not be vegan

Veganism has many nuances and its pure form includes both ethical and health reasoning for not eating animal products. That is why we created this list of potentially non-vegan foods that at common sense would dictate are actually vegan.

True vegans, not only do not eat anything that comes or is being processed with animal products, but also do not wear leather garments and usually find other ways to live in balance with nature. Like caring for animals and reducing their carbon footprint.

Vegans can be motivated by both health and ethical reasons or either one alone. There are also those that are vegan-ish mainly concerned with health issues and eating vegan for the majority of their diet.

No matter which one you are it is essential to know which foods are vegan and which are not. You will be surprised how many mainstream foods that appear to be vegan are potentially non-vegan. Let’s take a look at some of the most surprising foods.

1. White Sugar

Some white sugar is bleached in a process which included running through charred cattle bones known as “bone char” or “natural carbon”.

2. Orange Juice

Many orange juice manufacturers add omega-3s that are sourced from fish oils usually from tilapia, sardines or anchovies. There are exceptions when the omega-3s are synthetically derived. Vitamin D fortified juices often use lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool.

3. Bananas

Non-organic bananas are often sprayed with a bacteria-fighting compound derived from shellfish to extend their shelf life.

4. Beer

Some beers are clarified using isinglass which is a gelatin derived from the air bladders of freshwater fish.

5. Wine

Wine is sometimes clarified or filtered using isinglass. Most brands use other types of filters so you have to check each winery’s practices.

6. Supplements

Many vitamins and supplements contain animal products in the casing or capsule.

7. Potato chips

Some potato chips are flavored with powdered cheese, chicken beef or pork fat.

8. Peanuts

Many commercial brand peanuts use gelatin to make the salt stick to the nuts.

9. Hard Candy

They are often coated in in shellac a substance produced by the female lac insect. It is sometimes used in food for coating candies and fresh produce. It is commonly known as “confectioner’s glaze”.

10. Worcestershire Sauce

Made with anchovies making it a non vegan food product.

11. Chewing Gum

Some brands contain animal-derived glycerin.

12. Soda

Many types may contain animal by-products and insect-derived coloring.

13. Margarine

Although it is made with vegetable oil it often contains gelatin or whey.

14. Cake Mix

Cake mix often contains dairy products, white sugar, and even lard.

15. Bread Products

Some bread types are made with dairy products or eggs. Some bakery products like bagels are often made L-cysteine, a softening agent derived from poultry feathers.

16. Fresh Pasta

Contains eggs. But most commonly available pasta is egg-free.

17. Red-Colored Foods

Red colored pasta, candies, vinegar, and even some wines contain carminic acid also listed as “carmine” or “cochineal” or “natural red #4”, which is made by crushing the Dactylopius coccus Costa female beetles.

Animal-based ingredients to look for on the labels:

  • Cochineal or carmine: Ground cochineal insects are used to make carmine, a natural dye used to give a red color to many food products.
  • Gelatin: A thickening agent that comes from the connective tissue and bones of pigs and cows.
  • Isinglass: A gelatin-like substance is extracted from fish bladders it used to clarify and filter beer and wine.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Some products are enriched with omega-3s which makes them non vegan foods, since most omega-3s come from fish. Algae-derived omega-3s are vegan alternatives.
  • Shellac: A substance secreted by the female lac insect used to make a food glaze for candy or a wax coating for fresh produce.
  • Whey, casein, and lactose are all derived from dairy.
  • These codes can also indicate animal base ingredients: E120, E322, E422, E471, E542, E631, E901, and E904.

Thank you for reading our list of non vegan foods. If you think there are other representatives we should mention, drop us a line in the comments.