You’re vegan, but you also might be surprised to learn that you may not be. If you’re new to this lifestyle, you may not know that there are animal products hiding in some of the most innocent looking foods. If you don’t pay close attention to what you consume, you’ll likely find animal products sneaking their way into your system in some way, shape, or form. It sounds alarming, but they’re easy to spot when you know how. We’ve done a lot of digging and research to set you up for success – so that you can eat confidently, knowing how to spot which foods have animal sources hidden within them.
Four Pillars of a Healthy Diet
First, as a vegan, you should be aware of the four foods that are considered pillars of a healthy diet; these are four foods that simply shouldn’t ever have any hidden animal sources. These pillars are fresh produce, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Though vegans can eat other foods, these are unquestionably the healthiest, least controversial foods, and should make up the bulk of the vegan diet. That being said, if you branch out as a vegan to include other food items, please make sure to steer clear of the following items, which oftentimes have sneaky animal sources hidden within them…
Sneaky Animal Sources To Watch Out For
There’s a few animal products that show up quite frequently. Here are the main offenders that you should watch out for when you go shopping:
- Packaged foods: You may be happy in the supermarket picking up packaged goods, as you know what is or isn’t an animal product. However, there’s a fair few products that aren’t obviously from animals, or you wouldn’t expect to be in certain foods. That’s why you should always be wary, and question what goes into your shopping basket.
- Gelatin: This is a byproduct of the meat and leather industries, and can show up all sorts of places. It’s often found in gummy sweets, such as gummy bears and gummy vitamins, so be careful before taking a handful if you’re offered some. It’s also found in soups, sauces, and most marshmallows. It’s even found in gel capsules most often used for supplements and painkillers. There are often vegan alternatives available, so look out for those.
- Sugar: Yes, really. Some sugars are filtered through charred animal bones during the production process. If you’re trying to avoid this, look for the bags of sugar marked as ‘unbleached’, or for the vegan version.
- Soup: Yes, there are lots of tasty vegan-friendly soups out there, but not everyone has got the memo. Restaurants and canned soup retailers will use products such as chicken broth or stock as a base. Even miso soup is sometimes made with bonito flakes, which are made from fish. Ask your server before you order, to avoid accidentally getting the meaty soup!
- Carmine: This fairly innocent sounding product is actually derived from crushed up beetles. It’s usually used as a food coloring, so you’ll find it in bottled juices and candies.
- Lactic acid: This acid is used most commonly in the production of certain cheeses and yogurts. Its created by forming bacteria on the milk sugar lactose. There’s plenty of vegan cheeses on offer nowadays though, so they’re pretty simple to avoid.
How to Avoid These By Products
Does that list sound rather scary? Then no worries. It’s actually very simple to avoid sneaky animal ingredients. If you’re shopping, make sure you read ingredient lists carefully, so you know what’s in your food. Even better, try buying more whole foods and creating your own meals. That way you know what exactly went into them. It’s also much healthier. If you’re in a restaurant, simply ask the server. They should be able to give you the low down.
And there you have it. There’s plenty of hidden animal products hiding in your food, but with a bit of know how you can avoid them.
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