Is It Vegan? 16 Foods That Will Surprise You.

Have you ever looked at the nutritional information on your favorite foods? I challenge you to take a look when you shop.  Not only is this a great excerise for anyone to do so they can become more aware of what they are consuming, you may also be surprised at what is really hidden in the foods we eat.

Did you know that animal products are used in THOUSANDS of foods that do not clearly contain eggs, dairy, or meat? That’s because products derived from animals (aka using their fat, etc) is often hidden under scientific terms to sound more “legit and acceptable” – or at least that’s how I look at it.

When we cut out animal foods to adopt a plant-based diet we had to do a LOT of label reading. OUr main goal was to eat mostly whole plant foods but when we realized that wouldn’t always be possible, we had to get busy researching. Obviously we knew we could eat fruits and veggies but the packaged stuff was another story.

Foods That You Thought Would Be Vegan, But Aren’t

We were quite surprised with what we found. 

First, let’s talk about what words are animal-derived products but you would never know. The words below are things very commonly found in beauty products and food. They likely look familiar but unless you know what they are, it’s easy to assume they are not from animals. Additionally, no note needs to be made on the backs of packages for these like they do milk, nuts, or eggs.

  • Cochineal – Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect.
  • Gelatin – Protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones in water.
  • Lactose – Milk sugar from milk of mammals.
  • Lanolin – A product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool.
  • Whey – A serum from milk. 

Read this for a more in-depth look at animal-derived ingredients. The list is LONG but very eye opening.

Let’s jump into the items that we were surprised were vegan or not. Some of them I’m not sure why I was surprised and others were a big bummer.

Oreos – vegan

Tropicana Heart Healthy Orange Juice – not vegan – contains fish

Minute Maid Red Grapefruit Juice – not vegan – contains cochineal.

Soy Cheese – not vegan unless labeled vegan – contains casein

Movie Theater Popcorn (locally to me at least) – vegan

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls – vegan

Costco apple pie – vegan

Non-dairy creamer – not vegan – often contains casein, whey, or lactose

Veggie burgers – not all are vegan – often contains eggs or milk to bind.

(mainstream) Gummy candies– not vegan –  gelatin is not vegan. Also check for cochineal (what makes up red dye)

Marshmallows – not vegan – contains gelatin

Flavored potato chips (Not all but a large variety) – not vegan –  many contain milk

Papa John’s pizza crust – vegan – You can order pizza from a lot of chain restaurants without cheese and they will be vegan however not all crusts are vegan. This is a really helpful list here

Starbucks  – even if you get soy/almond/coconut milk, not all are vegan. (the caramel sauce is not vegan but the mocha sauce is!) To see a list of what is not vegan, click here

Super Pretzel soft pretzels – vegan – HOWEVER, a lot of soft pretzels are NOT vegan. So definitely ask if you are out and about.  BONUS: Mickey soft pretzels in Disney World ARE vegan. 

Duncan Hines home-style frosting & cake mixes – vegan – Always double check but most are, in fact, vegan. 

To be sure that the foods you are eating do not contain animal products, a sure bet is when you see “vegan” labeled on it somewhere.  Simply checking the nutritional facts is not always accurate as some animal products are hidden in there, like gelatin.  Nutritional facts will only say if it contains eggs or milk typically. 

I also want to note that “vegan” to some is more than ingredients but in this post that is all we are talking about: the ingredients.

Which food surprises you the most? Leave it in the comments!

Are there any foods that surprised you on this list? Or ones you’ve come across in the store?

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