Vegan Foods That Aren’t

If you’re a vegan, you go out of your way to avoid eating anything containing animal products. But did you know that some so-called “vegan” foods actually contain animal products?

Take a look at this list of common “vegan” products that shockingly contain animal byproducts. To stay truly vegan, add these foods to your “do not eat” list.

Orange juice

Think orange juice is vegan? It has to be, right? Turns out, any enhanced juice is likely to contain animal products. It is common for manufacturers to supplement orange juice with calcium, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D. All of these supplements are likely to come from animal sources. Calcium may come from extracts of animal bones, omega-3 fats typically come from fish oil, and vitamin D supplements are often extracted from an oil produced by sheep. To avoid this problem, simply look for plain orange juice that has no additives.

Potato chips

Surprisingly enough, some potato chips contain extracts of animal fat. Although chips are commonly fried in vegetable oil, some chips also have added animal fat for additional flavor. Barbeque chips are likely to be the main culprit, so read your labels carefully before choosing your chips. The use of animal fat will be listed on the label.


How on earth can a banana contain animal products? It has to do with how the bananas are packaged. Since bananas go bad quickly, they are often sprayed with preservatives to prevent them from browning before they get to the store. Commonly, an extract from shrimp or crab shells is used to preserve the bananas. Some bananas carry a warning label stating that they may contain shellfish, a wise precaution given the high number of people allergic to shellfish. You may want to stick to organic bananas, which are only slightly more expensive and should not have been sprayed with preservatives.

Any foods dyed red or pink

If you’re a vegan, you’d better stay away from red and pink foods. Why? Because most red and pink dye is made from an extract of crushed beetles called carmine (it can also be called carminic acid or cochineal). If you don’t want to accidentally eat an animal, stay away from anything containing these suspect words. 


We know sugar is bad for us, but we all have to splurge sometimes, right? Well, if you want to be a true vegan, you may not be able to have sugar anymore. During processing, sugar is often run through a bleaching process that filters the sugar through “natural carbon,” otherwise known as crumbled animal bones. Since some of those bones are mixed in with the final product, you are probably eating animals without knowing it each time you consume something sweetened with sugar. You can avoid this by eating only unprocessed sugar. 

Flavored nuts

Fresh bananas on wooden backgroundFlavored nuts are delicious, and nuts are a great way for vegans to get protein and fats not found in most other plant products. However, if you’ve been eating flavored nuts, you’ve probably been eating meat all along. In a surprising twist, many manufacturers use gelatin and other animal byproducts to help the flavoring stick to the nuts. Check your nut ingredient labels carefully before your next purchase to avoid eating animal products. You can stick to unprocessed or raw nuts, or simply cook and flavor them at home yourself — it’s easy to do and makes your home smell delish! 

Natural flavoring

If you take a look at any processed or packaged food, “natural flavoring” is almost always listed as an ingredient. Have you ever stopped to wonder what this flavor might be? Well, we hate to break it to you, but it’s possible that this natural flavor comes from beavers. Many companies use castoreum as a flavoring in products (often in vanilla flavoring). Castoreum is an extract derived from the scent glands in the rear end of beavers, which they use to mark their territory. Why that tastes like vanilla we have no idea, but we recommend avoiding it if you want to stay vegan.

Are you surprised by any of these? Maybe all of them! It can be difficult to be a true vegan when manufacturers use misleading terminology on ingredient lists. Reading labels is extremely important as a vegan. Your best bet is to stick to foods that you prepare yourself rather than manufactured and processed foods sold in boxes.

—The Alternative Daily 



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