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WTF! I Thought it Was Vegan?!
Even when employing our most cautious behavior -double checking the labels and sorting through all the vegan don’ts -there’s still a plethora of sneaky products out there us vegans have to be on the watch for. From vitamins to produce, there’s an impossible amount of questionable terrain to cover in identifying the vegan phonies, but don’t be discouraged! Luckily, with a little bit of research, we can uncover the hidden perpetrators that threaten our vegan lifestyles and effect change by pushing for ethical alternatives to some of our favorite – but disappointingly cruelty-laden- products and foods. Educating yourself in living the lifestyle you want is a powerful first step to success, and the more we learn as a community the closer to our goal we come. Help the vegan movement- and yourself – and continue to keep an eye on the labels, especially when it comes to browsing for these 10 things…
Of course animal testing is no news flash to the vegan community, so first and foremost steer clear of make-up brands that participate in this type of disgraceful behavior. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only aspect of make-up that clashes with vegan standards; a considerable amount of shimmery makeup is actually produced with fish scales. Guanine, the name used to denote the fish scale ingredient, can be found in all kinds of makeup including your lipstick (yuck!). Though taking the time to research fish-free makeup will likely involve some extra effort, there are several lists you can find, like PETA’s vegan lipstick listing that can get you started on vegan-izing your beauty routine!
Though Caesar dressing’s creamy appearance is enough to raise any cautious vegan’s suspicions, the defining non-vegan ingredient that appears in many Caesar dressings is, in fact, anchovy paste. Anchovies occur in several different unexpected foods and condiments and are something to watch out for in not just your Caesar dressing. While this may discourage you from ordering the Caesar side salad on your next meal out, Caesar fans are not out of luck just yet! Fortunately, vegan alternatives already exist in stores, allowing you to avoid the label scanning altogether if you plan to enjoy a homemade salad of your own.
3.Beer and Wine
Is nothing sacred?! When a glass of vino might be your only option on the menu, it could be tempting to turn a blind eye to this number on the list. Beer and wine is a particularly difficult front to tackle; with no ingredient labels to read, our search for scandalous additives is cut short and we are blissfully ignorant of what might be lurking in our late-night pints. The theme so far has been fish-related ingredients, and beer and wine perpetuates the trend with its unknown additive: isinglass. Isinglass is derived from fish bladders and is used as a fining agent in some beers such as Guinness. Additional animal additives can also be found in beer and wine making, including gelatin, casein, and glycerin. Fortunately for all of us, there’s a substantial amount of information out there regarding the yay and nays of vegan drinking, and with a little bit of research, you can learn to guide yourself through ethical drinking.
Any good vegan is sure to have some assortment of nuts in their pantry, seeing as they can be a highly valuable source of nutrients in our diet, but watch out if you tend to lean towards more ‘flavorful’ choices. Not only are many peanut butters failing to meet the vegan criteria, roasted peanuts also pose a potential problem as they may be manufactured with gelatin. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch the roasted peanuts just yet though! As with all things, make sure to keep an eye on the labels and avoid any over-processed items which are more likely to include sneaky gelatin additives.
In life you inevitably learn nothing is ‘black and white’, and non-dairy creamer turns out to be yet another testimony to this idiom. Alas, when perusing the ‘non-dairy’ isle you’ll need to make the extra effort to check for casein, a milk derivative used typically as a whitener in non-dairy milks and creamers. Though it is relatively well known that this milk protein occurs in non-dairy creamery, there is a scarce amount of literature on identifying which alternatives are genuinely vegan friendly. In the case of your creamer, it’s best to read your labels!
Vitamins and supplements are commonly addressed in various news and research for an array of potential downsides that need to be considered before consuming any to complement your diet. Vitamin D is commonly sought out by vegans, as it is particularly useful in supplementing our type of diet. However, among the Vitamin D options, D3 is one to steer clear of. Though there are vegan-friendly options for vitamin D3, an ample proportion is derived from lanolin (sheep’s wool) or fish oil. If you insist on taking supplements, a safe source of Vitamin D can be gained from taking the VEG1 supplement which additionally includes B12, iodine, and selenium to enhance a healthy vegan diet.
One of the more difficult ones to avoid, shellac appears in a wide variety of products from furniture finishes to food glaze. Shellac originates from the lac beetle, which secretes the substance on tree branches as a protective enclosure for their larvae, which is then harvested by scraping the secretion from the tree. While it can take some trial and error when learning to avoid shellac, you can start with smaller replaceable items such as nail polish or certain candy/food. When in doubt, check the labels!
Vegans can’t seem to catch a break- even produce isn’t safe! People’s’ love for the shiny and new has spread to the produce section of our grocery stores, as certain fruits and veggies are coated in wax to maintain a glossy, fresh appearance. Though the wax is safe to eat, it oftentimes is not vegan, as in many cases beeswax or lac-resin based wax (which originates from the same source as shellac) is used. On the positive side, you’ve got another reason to take a trip to your local farmers’ market for produce instead!
Meat eater or not, Worcestershire sauce is a tasty, multipurpose condiment that, without proper attention, could easily go under the vegan radar. Like Caesar dressing, Worcestershire fails to hit the mark due to the use of anchovies in its ingredients. Fish and their extracts deviously appear in various condiments, sauces, vitamins and more, and can pose an unprecedented hick-up in even a veteran vegan’s diet, so read read read the labels!
While most of us likely stay out of the McDonald’s drive-thru, vegans love our junk-food too and it can be tempting to grab some innocent French fries from time to time. Just potatoes, oil and a little salt right? Not always. Unfortunately, animal fat can find its way into our beloved French fries. In the case of McDonalds, beef flavor is added to their fries- definitely not vegan! Furthermore, when eating out its important to consider that frying oil is reused and likely has encountered some meat products before your order of potatoes hit the fryers.