5 Foods That Only SEEM Vegetarian
You'd think that maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle would be as simple as avoiding meat, but you'd be wrong.
RECIPE: Veggie Hash with Upland Cress Salad
As it turns out, vegetarians (and especially vegans) need to be much more careful about what they purchase in restaurants, supermarkets and even bars. Plenty of seemingly innocent items contain ingredients not only derived from animals (like eggs or dairy — two big no-nos for vegans), but ingredients made from our furry animal friends themselves (meaning they're unsuitable for even vegetarians).
For example, did you know that strict vegetarians can't have …
The Guinness breweries utilize isinglass — a gelatin-like substance made from fish bladders — to remove yeast particles from its beer. According to an article from Smithsonian.com, the isinglass attaches itself to the particles before settling at the bottom of the casks during a secondary fermentation stage. It's eventually removed, but by Guinness' own admission, there still might be trace amounts of fish in the beer:
"All Guinness brands are free from animal matter and from contact with animal matter. However, isinglass, which is a by-product of the fishing industry, is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the vat. The isinglass is retained in the floor of the vat but it is possible that minute quantities might be carried over into the beer."
Guinness isn't the only brewery to use this method, however. While many beer producers use alternate filtering methods, certain British brewers still utilize isinglass, along with gelatin, glycerin or casein.
Although Twinkies aren't currently available in stores, their ingredients include "partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening" made from soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, or beef fat. (Discovery Fit & Health, however, calculated that a single serving only contained less that 1 gram of these partially hydrogenated shortenings, animal or otherwise.)
Twinkies will once again he hitting store shelves on July 15, but it's unclear whether the treats will continue to be produced with beef fat.
Raw sugar is sometimes refined and whitened with the use of bone char or bone black, which Encyclopedia Britannica defines as "a form of charcoal produced by heating bone in the presence of a limited amount of air."
Not all sugars are processed using bone char (also called natural charcoal), but a January 2013 report from The Vegetarian Resource Group confirmed that most varieties produced by C&H Sugar, excluding their USDA Organic and Washed Raw sugars, were still being processed using bone char. The same article also confirmed that Domino Sugar uses bone char in all but two of its processing plants (Yonkers, NY, and Orlando, FL), and that a consumer can determine where their sugar was processed by deciphering the product's package code.
PETA further explains that turbinado and beet sugars are not refined with bone char, and they offer a list of companies that don't utilize animal products in their refining process.
Many brands of yogurt, including Dannon and Yoplait, make a number of their yogurt varieties with kosher gelatin. While some types of kosher gelatins can be made from vegan sources (PETA has a list of vegan kosher gelatin brands and vegan-friendly gelatin alternatives here), many are derived from bovine sources and certain species of kosher fish.
Dannon and Yoplait have disclosed that their kosher gelatins are made from cattle hide and beef, respectively.
The strawberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cherry varieties of Dannon's Fruit on the Bottom yogurts also contain a coloring agent called carmine, which brings us to the last foods on the list.
Red Candies (And Plenty of Other Red Foods)
Certain red candies get their color from food dyes, and one particular food dye gets its color from insects. Carmine, also known as cochineal extract, is made from the crushed bodies of female cochineal beetles.
The FDA required companies to list carmine on their ingredients labels in 2009, after some consumers experienced severe allergic reactions. "Cochineal extract and carmine are safe for the majority of the general population," said FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek at the time. "FDA is taking this action to protect the small number of consumers who are allergic to these color additives."
Some foods that contain carmine include Good & Plenty and strawberry/grape Nerds candies; the berry and strawberry varieties of Pop-Tarts Wildlicious toaster pastries; and the Dannon yogurts mentioned above.