Updated: May 30, 2022
Eating a vegan diet may seem pretty straightforward—simply avoid meat, dairy, eggs and fish. However, some foods have hidden animal-based ingredients, making them not suitable for vegan diets. Below are 5 foods that seem vegan...but aren't.
Honey is a controversial topic among the vegan community. Many choose to avoid honey because it comes from bees. Others believe that bees make their honey for us, but in actuality, bees make honey for bees as honey provides the energy they need to survive and nutrients to thrive. What's more, the honey-making industry can be unethical with selective breeding contributing to disease and die-offs to an already endangered species. This, in turn, can harm the environment. If you care about sustaining bees and the environment, stick with vegan-friendly natural sweeteners like dates, maple or bee-free honey like this one from Bee Free Honee. Learn more about the honey industry here.
Not all frozen or restaurant veggie burgers are vegan friendly! Some may contain dairy and/or eggs. There are plenty of vegan versions—read the label to know what you're buying. Or, better yet, make your own! They're very simple to make and you can freeze the veggie patties by placing parchment paper in between each one and taking them out individually when you're ready for one. Plus, homemade veggie burgers taste pretty delicious. Here's a yummy recipe from Minimalist Baker.
Many creamers that claim to be non-dairy contain casein. This is a protein derived from milk, so be sure to read the ingredient list. If you like your coffee or tea creamy try unsweetened soy or hemp milk. If you have extra time, make your own almond or cashew milk for the least processed plant-based milk.
Candy may contain gelatin, shellac or carmine (red dye), which all come from animal origins. Gelatin comes from boiling bones and is used in food and body care products as a thickener. Shellac comes from bugs and is used as a food glaze. Carmine also comes from bugs and is used as a coloring agent. Check ingredients labels for these products that can be hidden in not only candy, but also other packaged foods.
Beer and Wine
Some beer and wine may use egg whites, casein or gelatin in the brewing process. Isinglass is also sometimes used to clarify the product, and comes from fish bladders. These typically aren't listed, so do some research ahead of time before drinking! There are great vegan-friendly wines and beers. Check out some options here and here.
The bottom line? Read ingredient labels and do a little research with the food manufacturer before diving in!
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My name is Margaret Peterson, and I am in the nutrition coordinated program at Georgia State University. I am earning a Master’s degree in Health Science, and completing supervised practice hours to become a Registered Dietitian. In my free time, I enjoy working out, going to concerts, and trying new spots around Atlanta. My goal is to start private practice when I finish my program, but I also have an interest in working in a clinical setting. I chose to pursue a career in nutrition because I believe the foundation of a healthy life starts with the diet. My goal is to help people find the best diet for them individually, in order to feel comfortable and confident with the nutrition aspect of overall wellness.