As a vegan, it seems pretty straightforward to know what to eat and what to avoid. Take pork, meat, and eggs for example. These are obvious foods to avoid in a vegan’s diet. However, other foods are not as clear-cut and you might be surprised that what you thought to be all-vegan actually has traces of animal products. So, what are these foods masquerading as vegan-friendly but aren’t?

Dairy Free Products

This statement can be confusing. But, it’s a fact that a prawn or a chicken breast is also dairy free, but still non-vegan. Manufacturers use this trick, and unfortunately, it works only for you to realize you were fooled when you check the ingredients. Only go for foods with the vegan stamp.

Bread and Bagels

If you’re wondering how bread is not vegan, then you’re in for a surprise. Most of us know that bread contains flour and yeast. It’s also common knowledge that other ingredients in bread include milk and eggs which are animal products. What you might not know is that Glycerides, the substance that strengthens the dough, is animal-sourced. Likewise, L-Cysteine is a type of amino acid that comes from human, pig, or duck hair! So, unless specified as a vegan, bread and bagels go to the list of don’ts.

Beers and Wines

While beer is not a food, it’s worth mentioning that most people confuse it to be vegan-friendly. The favorite drink you like indulging while relaxing with friends is not made of what you were made to believe. In particular, the British beer is filtered with isinglass, a membrane belonging to tropical fish bladders. Isinglass acts as a filter to make beers look clear and bright so that they can be more appealing to the drinkers. Beers that are made using traditional methods such as German and Belgian beers are vegan-friendly.
On the other hand, we’ve always believed wines are vegan. After all, they are made from grapes. However, everything changes during filtering. The agents used include fish bones, milk protein, gelatin, and bone marrow.


Bananas are vegan, alright. The only problem is that scientists have discovered a pesticide made from crab and shrimp shells are sprayed to extend the shelf life of bananas. This may only apply in certain parts of the country and you may not be affected. But, it pays to be on the lookout and ensure that you buy organic bananas.

Not all Juice is Vegan

It’s easy to take fruit juice without doubting whether it’s vegan or not. But you might want to think twice, especially if it’s fortified. Usually, vitamin D3 is an added ingredient that’s obtained from lanolin, the waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool. Likewise, other juices are filtered using isinglass (fish bladder) which makes the juice non-vegan. To get rid of this confusion, your best option is to squeeze your own juice at home.

Artificial Red coloring

Red sweets, lipstick, eyeshadows, grapefruit juices and pink lemonades all have one thing in common – Carmine. This is the red pigment obtained from crushed Cochineal (bugs) which is mixed with ammonia or sodium carbonate and used as a red dye. The food product doesn’t have to be red to contain Cochineal. Basically, any food labeled “Color Added” should be avoided. Additionally, some soft drinks have traces of gelatin which is used as a stabilizer.

White Sugar

The ever so familiar sugar cubes are not vegan. White sugar is bleached after going through a filtration process that uses cow bones. And that’s not all. The bones are charred under extremely high temperatures until they become white. For those who think brown sugar is a better alternative, I hate to break it to you, but, it undergoes the same process as white sugar. Only this time, molasses is added to it to make it brown. Molasses has minimal nutritional value, therefore, it’s misguided to say that brown sugar is more nutritious. It’s recommended to use coconut sugar or maple syrup as alternatives.


Butter is for non-vegans while margarine is for vegans, or so we thought. The truth is that you’ll find traces of a milk protein known as casein and the substance gelatin in your margarine. Nonetheless, there are many kinds of vegan margarine in the market and you have to carefully check the ingredients to be sure your margarine doesn’t contain animal sources.

Foods Fortified with Omega 3

Any fortified food should not be relied upon to provide the necessary nutrients. The added Omega 3 comes from anchovies. A good source of Omega 3 is walnuts, therefore, be wary of foods labeled Omega 3 because they are additives.

All images by Pixabay


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