Though becoming a vegetarian may not be the easiest decision to make or stick with, it is quite simple to determine which foods are and are not herbivore-friendly…or so you thought.
While everyone knows that steak is as vegetarian as bacon is healthy, few people stop to question if the process of making bagels or Altoids hurts any animals. When foods are processed, it is very easy for manufacturers to sneak in meat-based ingredients. From OJ to cheesecake, here are five foods that are, surprisingly, not vegetarian.
Though cheese and yogurt are most certainly not vegan, they are commonly accepted as vegetarian-friendly foods. However, if you were to examine the fine print more closely, you’d find that many dairy products are made with carnivorous ingredients. Many commonly-consumed cheeses like Parmesan and Gorgonzola contain rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomachs of calves, pigs or sheep that is used to harden cheese. Similarly, to thicken yogurt (and cheesecake), many dairy companies use gelatin, a product made from collagen found in the connective tissue of cows.
2. Orange Juice
While orange juice is chock-full of vitamin C and other nutrients, it isn’t naturally “heart-healthy,” despite what brands like Tropicana and Florida have led us to believe. In order to live up to its name, manufacturers have begun to add omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly extracted from fishes like sardines and tilapia, to their OJ. To add insult to injury, the vitamin D in many juices is fortified by lanolin, an oil that is secreted from the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.
3. Cake Mix
Though it is much easier to whip up a cake from a nearly pre-made box batter, it may be more animal-friendly to start from scratch. Many cake mixes contain lard, a fat extracted from either pigs or cows, which acts like butter or oil to moisten the cake.
4. Beer and Wine
Though most domestic vineyards and breweries use clay or algae to clarify their spirits, many foreign alcohol manufacturers often use isinglass, a gelatin sourced from the bladders of freshwater fish. However, oftentimes this strange ingredient is not listed, so if you are looking for a vegetarian brew, you may want to check with Google first.
While it may be hard to resist your raging sweet tooth, it may be easier once you find out what manufacturers have snuck into your favorite candies. Jellybeans and hard candies often contain shellac, a sticky substance derived from the secretions of the female Kerria lacca, an insect native to Thailand. Even worse, everyone’s favorite flavor, red, usually gains its hue from carmine, a pigment extracted from the female Dactylopius coccus Costa beetle.
Whether you are a vegetarian or not, I hope this list has shed a little light on the multitude of strangeness that can hide in the most innocuous of foods, and that, next time, you read the ingredients list just a bit more closely.