Discover 16 Surprising Foods That Aren’t Vegan in Your Pantry

Have you ever thought a food was vegan only to find out later it wasn’t? Many everyday foods contain hidden animal products that might surprise you. From your morning toast to your evening glass of wine, these ingredients can sneak into your diet without you knowing.

This guide will reveal some surprising foods that aren’t vegan, helping you make better choices and stay true to your vegan lifestyle. Let’s dive in and uncover what’s really in your favorite foods!

16 Surprising Foods That Aren’t Vegan

1. Bread and Baked Goods


Bread and baked goods are staples in many diets, but they often contain hidden animal products. One common ingredient is gelatin, which is used to stabilize doughs and give bread a soft texture.

Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, typically obtained from the bones and connective tissues of cows or pigs. This means that many commercially produced breads, especially those that are mass-produced, can contain gelatin.

Another hidden ingredient in bread and baked goods is L-Cysteine, an amino acid used as a dough conditioner. L-Cysteine is often derived from animal feathers or human hair, which helps to improve the elasticity of the dough and extend the shelf life of the product.

It’s commonly found in commercial bread products and can be difficult to avoid unless you specifically look for vegan-certified options. Always check the ingredient list or opt for bread labeled as vegan to ensure you’re avoiding these hidden animal products.

2. Beer and Wine


Beer and wine are popular beverages, but many people are unaware that their favorite drink might not be vegan. During the brewing and winemaking processes, animal-derived clarifying agents are often used.

Isinglass, which comes from fish bladders, is commonly used to clear beer and wine of impurities. Other clarifying agents include gelatin and casein, the latter of which is derived from milk. These agents help to remove particles and improve the clarity of the final product.

While these substances are filtered out before the beer or wine is bottled, their use in the production process means the beverages are not vegan. This can be surprising, as the final product shows no visible signs of these animal-derived ingredients.

Fortunately, many breweries and wineries are now offering “vegan-friendly” options. Look for labels or certifications indicating that no animal products were used during production, or research brands known for their vegan practices.

3. Non-Dairy Creamers

Non-Dairy Creamers

Image source: Pinterest

Non-dairy creamers are often assumed to be vegan, but this is not always the case. Many non-dairy creamers contain casein and whey, both of which are milk derivatives.

Casein is a protein found in milk that provides a rich, creamy texture, while whey is another milk protein that enhances the flavor and consistency of the creamer. These ingredients are commonly used to mimic the mouthfeel of dairy creamers.

Despite being labeled as non-dairy, the presence of these milk proteins means that the creamers are not suitable for vegans. It’s essential to carefully read the ingredient list when choosing a non-dairy creamer to ensure it doesn’t contain these hidden animal products.

To avoid any confusion, opt for creamers that are specifically labeled as vegan. These products are formulated without any animal-derived ingredients and are a safe choice for maintaining a vegan lifestyle.

4. Sauces and Dressings

Worcestershire sauce

Image source: Pinterest

Many sauces and dressings, which add flavor to our meals, contain hidden non-vegan ingredients. Anchovies, for example, are a common ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and Caesar dressing.

These small fish add a distinct savory flavor but make the sauce unsuitable for vegans. Similarly, honey is often used as a natural sweetener in various dressings and sauces. While honey is a natural product, it is derived from bees, making it non-vegan.

Additionally, some creamy dressings may contain egg yolks or dairy products to achieve their rich texture. For instance, ranch dressing often includes buttermilk, and some vinaigrettes use honey as a sweetener.

To ensure your sauces and dressings are vegan, always read the ingredient list or choose products that are clearly labeled as vegan. This way, you can enjoy your meals without compromising your dietary choices.

5. Sugar


It may come as a surprise, but not all sugar is vegan. Some sugar is processed using bone char, a substance made from the bones of animals. Bone char is used to filter and whiten sugar, particularly in the refining process of cane sugar. This means that the sugar itself, despite appearing pure, has been in contact with animal products, making it non-vegan.

To avoid bone char, look for organic, raw, or unrefined sugar, as these are typically processed without bone char. Beet sugar, for example, is processed differently and does not require bone char.

Some brands also label their sugar as vegan, making it easier to identify suitable options. By choosing these alternatives, you can ensure that your sweet treats are free from hidden animal products and align with your vegan lifestyle.

6. Potato Chips and Snack Foods

Potato Chips

Image source: Pinterest

Potato chips and other snack foods are often thought to be vegan-friendly, but many contain hidden animal-derived ingredients. For example, Lays Barbecue Chips contain chicken fat, and Doritos often contain cheese and other dairy products in their seasoning.

Additionally, some flavors of Pringles include whey, a milk derivative. These ingredients make the chips unsuitable for vegans. To avoid these hidden ingredients, carefully check the ingredient list and opt for brands that explicitly state they are vegan. There are many vegan-friendly chip options available that ensure you can enjoy your snacks without compromising your dietary principles.

7. Gummy Candies and Marshmallows

Gummy Candies

Gummy candies and marshmallows are popular treats that often contain gelatin, an ingredient derived from animal collagen. Gelatin is used to give these candies their chewy and stretchy texture.

It’s typically sourced from the bones and connective tissues of pigs and cows, making these sweet treats non-vegan. This means that many popular gummy candies, marshmallows, and similar confections are off-limits for vegans.

Fortunately, there are vegan alternatives available that use plant-based gelling agents such as agar-agar or pectin. These substitutes provide a similar texture without the use of animal products.

When shopping for gummy candies or marshmallows, look for products specifically labeled as vegan. Many specialty brands offer vegan versions of these classic treats, allowing you to indulge without compromising your dietary choices.

8. Processed Fruit Juices

Fruit Juices

Processed fruit juices might seem like a straightforward vegan option, but some brands add non-vegan ingredients during production. Fish oil and gelatin are surprising additives that can be found in certain fruit juices.

Fish oil is sometimes used to fortify juices with omega-3 fatty acids, while gelatin is used to clarify the juice and improve its appearance. These additives make the final product unsuitable for vegans.

For example, some products from Minute Maid might contain added fish oil for fortification, making them non-vegan. To avoid these hidden animal products, it’s important to read the labels of processed fruit juices carefully.

Opt for brands that clearly state they are vegan or choose freshly squeezed juices that are less likely to contain these additives. By doing so, you can enjoy your fruit juice without worrying about hidden non-vegan ingredients.

9. Certain Pasta Products


Pasta is a versatile and beloved food, but not all pasta products are vegan. Eggs are a common ingredient in many types of fresh pasta and even some dried pasta varieties. The addition of eggs gives pasta a richer flavor and a firmer texture, but it also makes it unsuitable for vegans. For instance, popular pasta brands like Barilla offer some varieties that contain eggs, making them non-vegan.

To ensure your pasta is vegan, check the ingredient list and avoid products that list eggs. There are many brands that offer egg-free pasta options, and some specifically label their products as vegan. By selecting these options, you can enjoy your favorite pasta dishes without compromising your vegan lifestyle.

10. Fortified Breakfast Cereals


Fortified breakfast cereals are a convenient and popular choice for a quick meal, but they often contain non-vegan ingredients. One such ingredient is vitamin D3, which is commonly added to cereals for its health benefits. However, vitamin D3 is often derived from lanolin, a substance extracted from sheep’s wool. This makes many fortified cereals non-vegan.

For example, popular cereal brands like Kellogg’s often fortify their cereals with vitamin D3 sourced from lanolin, making them unsuitable for vegans. To avoid this, look for cereals that use vitamin D2, a vegan alternative derived from plant sources.

Some brands specifically label their cereals as vegan, making it easier to identify suitable choices. By choosing these cereals, you can start your day with a nutritious and vegan-friendly breakfast.

11. Red Food Coloring (Carmine)


Image source: Pinterest

Red food coloring, also known as carmine, is commonly used in a variety of foods to achieve a vibrant red hue. Carmine is derived from cochineal bugs, which are ground up to produce the dye. This means that foods containing carmine, such as certain candies, yogurts, and juices, are not vegan.

To avoid this non-vegan ingredient, look for products that use plant-based red colorings such as beet juice or paprika extract. Many brands now offer natural and vegan alternatives to artificial colorings. By checking the ingredient list and choosing products that use plant-based dyes, you can avoid consuming hidden animal products.

12. French Fries

French Fries

French fries are a beloved snack and side dish, but they can sometimes contain hidden animal products. Some restaurants and fast-food chains cook their fries in animal fat, such as beef tallow, instead of vegetable oil. Additionally, certain seasonings and flavorings added to fries may include dairy or other animal-derived ingredients, making them non-vegan.

To ensure your French fries are vegan, ask about the cooking methods and ingredients used. Some chains offer fries that are cooked in vegetable oil and are free from animal-derived seasonings. By being vigilant and choosing vegan-friendly options, you can enjoy this popular snack without compromising your dietary choices.

13. Some Peanut Butter Brands

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a staple in many vegan diets, but not all brands are created equal. Some peanut butter brands add honey or fish oil to enhance the flavor and texture of the product.

Honey, though a natural sweetener, is not considered vegan because it is produced by bees. Fish oil, added for its omega-3 fatty acids, is also a non-vegan ingredient. For instance, certain varieties of Jif Peanut Butter may contain added honey, making them unsuitable for vegans.

To ensure your peanut butter is vegan, read the ingredient list carefully and look for brands that are labeled as vegan. Many companies offer pure peanut butter made with just peanuts and salt, without any added animal products. By choosing these options, you can enjoy your peanut butter guilt-free, knowing it aligns with your vegan lifestyle.

14. Miso soup

Miso soup

Miso soup is a popular dish in Japanese cuisine that is often assumed to be vegan. However, traditional miso soup contains dashi, a broth made from bonito flakes (dried fish) and sometimes kombu (seaweed). The inclusion of dashi makes this soup non-vegan, even though the primary ingredients, such as miso paste and tofu, are plant-based.

For example, many miso soup products from brands like Kikkoman use dashi made with bonito flakes. To enjoy a vegan version of miso soup, look for products that specifically state they are vegan or make your own using vegan dashi, which can be made from shiitake mushrooms and kombu. By doing so, you can savor this delicious soup without compromising your vegan principles.

15. Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Image source: Pinterest

Refried beans are a popular side dish in many cuisines, but they are often prepared with lard, which is rendered pork fat. Lard gives refried beans their creamy texture and rich flavor, but it makes the dish non-vegan. Even though beans themselves are plant-based, the addition of lard introduces an animal product that vegans avoid.

To enjoy vegan refried beans, look for brands that explicitly state they use vegetable oil instead of lard. Many supermarkets carry vegan-friendly refried beans that are clearly labeled.

Additionally, making your own refried beans at home allows you to control the ingredients and ensure they are free from animal products. Simply use cooked pinto beans, vegetable oil, and your favorite spices to create a delicious vegan alternative.

16. Some Instant Noodles

Instant Noodles

Instant noodles are a convenient and quick meal option, but many varieties contain hidden animal-derived ingredients. The flavor packets that come with instant noodles often include meat-based broth powder, such as chicken, beef, or shrimp.

These ingredients are used to enhance the taste of the noodles but make the product non-vegan. For instance, certain varieties of Maruchan Ramen contain meat-based flavorings, making them unsuitable for vegans.

To find vegan instant noodles, carefully read the ingredient list and opt for brands that offer vegetarian or vegan options. Some brands specifically label their products as vegan, making it easier to identify suitable choices. Alternatively, you can create your own flavoring using vegetable broth, soy sauce, and spices, ensuring your instant noodle meal is entirely plant-based.

Similar Posts