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VegWeb Guide to Pesky Animal Ingredients

Cookies, cheese, ice cream—most everything today is practically guaranteed to have a vegan version, or twelve. It’s still good to know, however, what pesky animal ingredients lurk in everyday products so they can be avoided. After all, who needs them?!

BBQ sauce
It can be easy to find vegan BBQ sauce, but be sure to check the label for any of the following: anchovies, chicken fat, rendered beef fat, beef extract, beef stock, eggs, and honey.

Some beers are fined before bottling using gelatin, isinglass (from sturgeon fish bladders), albumin (from eggs or dried blood), or casein/potassium caseinate (from milk products). Beer can also use glyceryl monostearate, an anti-foaming agent that sometimes is an animal derivative (pepsin), a heading agent that can be derived from pork. Check out Barnivore for today’s guaranteed animal-free brews. 

Along with eggs, milk, butter, buttermilk, whey, and honey, bread can contain the following which may or may not be derived from animals: mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, glycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, emulsifiers, and DATEM (Di-Acetyl Tartrate Ester of Monoglyceride). 

Brown sugar
Many brown sugar producers make brown sugar by adding cane molasses to completely refined sugar (cane or beet). Cane sugar is either filtered through activated carbon or bone char. Brown sugar that is advertised as non bone-char processed can usually be found at natural food stores. Sucanat is a good alternative, since it is unrefined cane sugar that has not had the molasses removed. 

The usual suspects such as milk, whey, sugar and gelatin can often be found in cereal. One ingredient that is not so obvious is Vitamin D, which cereals are sometimes fortified with. Vitamin D without a subscript refers to either Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 may be derived from lanolin, a substance that is secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. Vitamin D2 is derived from fungal and plant sources. 

Flour tortillas
Flour tortillas can contain lard, whey, and glycerides from animal or vegetable sources.

Maple syrup
Maple syrup requires an agent to reduce the foam on the syrup. This is done by adding a small amount of fat to the liquid. Vegetable oil is a common defoaming agent, but lard, milk, cream, butter, or a defoamer containing monoglycerides and diglycerides from either animal or vegetable sources can be used. 

Margarine can contain whey and other dairy derivatives, Vitamin D3 from animal sources, and mono- and di-glycerides from animal or vegetable sources. It’s no secret around VegWeb that we’re in love with the all-vegan Earth Balance!

Traditional mayonnaise contains eggs, but there’s a wealth of vegan mayos on the market that are completely animal-free and downright delicious. We’re huge fans of Vegenaise! 

Powdered sugar
Also known as confectioners' or icing sugar, powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been pulverized into a very fine powder, sifted, and mixed with cornstarch, flour, or calcium phosphate to keep it dry and to prevent caking. The source of the sugar can be either cane sugar or beet sugar. Cane sugar is either filtered through activated carbon or bone char, but beet sugar is not.

Commercially-produced white, granulated sugar comes from either cane sugar or from beet sugar. Cane sugar is either filtered through activated carbon or bone char but beet sugar is not. Sugar that hasn't been filtered through bone char can usually be found at natural food stores. Additional alternatives include Sucanat (non-refined cane sugar that has not had the molasses removed), turbinado sugar (made by steaming unrefined raw sugar), Stevia, maple sugar (about twice as sweet as standard granulated sugar), and date sugar (an unprocessed sugar made from dehydrated dates). Liquid sweeteners such as brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup, agave syrup, malt syrup, and fruit juice concentrates can also be used. 

Animal-derived ingredients used in wine making can include gelatin, isinglass (from sturgeon fish bladders), egg whites (or albumin), and casein. Animal blood used to be used to fine wine, but rarely anymore (it was declared illegal to use in European wines). Check out Barnivore for today’s guaranteed animal-free vinos. 

Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce can contain anchovies and sugar, but vegan versions are available online and at many natural food stores.