As you shop for vegetarian food this holiday, ensure that you familiarize yourself with product labeling. The ingredient list is an important thing to read every time you buy a prepared product, because the manufacturers may change their formulation. If the product does not have the V symbol on it, even if it’s vegan today, it might not be tomorrow depending on their ingredients.Here are 12 ingredients to watch out for
This is a thickening agent that is made from the skin, bones, and connective tissues from cows and pigs. Even if you are a vegetarian and not a vegan, this is something all vegetarians stay away from. There is another type of gelatin called isinglass derived from fish that you should also avoid.
If you look at the ingredients and there are additives, they may be derived from animals. This can be any of the numbers that start with an E, and if you’re a vegan, be sure to look at the back of your soymilk to make sure they did not add whey powder to it.
Some Food Colorings and Dyes
If your ingredient list has cochineal or carmine, that is an insect that is used to make a natural red dye. Now some vegetarians don’t mind including products from insects, so you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
Many foods add vitamins to them, but it depends on how they were acquired. Most vitamin D3 in food like cereal is made from animals. If they have added omega-3 fatty acids, a lot of them come from fish. Having said that, you can find vegan forms of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids today.
This natural flavoring really does often come from a beaver’s anal scent gland. The best thing is to look up any ingredients listed as “natural flavorings” to ensure that it’s not animal-based before consuming.
Sneaky Dairy Products
If your ingredient list says whey, casein, or lactose, these are all made from dairy products and should be avoided by vegans (although vegetarians tend to eat dairy).
This amino acid is a softening agent that is often used in bakeries, especially for bagels. It comes from bird feathers.
There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian choices but be aware that a lot of beer and wine have egg whites, gelatin, casein, isinglass, and other animal products added during the brewing or winemaking process.
Many snacks contain animal products, usually in the form of gelatin and the red dye carmine that is made from insects. For example, marshmallows have gelatin. Having said that, you can get other varies that do not have these ingredients.
If you don’t eat eggs, watch out for deep-fried food because most of the time the batter used to make them crispy have eggs. Plus, often the frying process uses lard, which is derived from cows or pigs.
While this is not an ingredient, most cane sugar is processed using the bone char to lighten up the sugar as they grind it, but some of it gets into the sugar.
Shellac and Other Coatings
Many shiny foods are coated with shellac, which is derived from petroleum or palm. Sometimes it’s beeswax, but you’d have to ask your grocery store manager about that.
Animal-based ingredients can be in everything you purchase – even if it’s a sweet, bright red delicious apple because it might be coated with shellac. The main thing is to find a list of ingredients that you personally want to avoid and carry it with you as you shop, while reading labels and asking for help when needed.