The foods you thought were vegetarian but aren’t

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Consuming food without any animal or fish-based ingredients is becoming a difficult task for vegetarians due to the wide range of additives and components used in modern products. We take a look at some of the products that many believe are suitable for vegetarians but actually aren’t.

Wine and beer

According to wine specialist Cloudy Bay, the vast majority of wines are not actually vegan or vegetarian as the liquid undergoes a filtering process via the use of a fish bladder and a substance called isinglass. Guinness also uses isinglass during the brewing process.

“We use Isinglass in the production of Guinness as a fining agent to help remove yeast from the beer,” a spokesperson for the brand said. “While the brewing process removes the vast majority or all of the Isinglass, we accept that some minor traces of Isinglass may remain in the finished product. We are currently trying to evaluate the reputational impact of Isinglass on our brand and product and whether investment should be made to remove this element from our brewing process.”


Many low-fat yoghurts use gelatin to create a creamier and richer texture. Gelatin is an additive that is made of up of animal skin, tissue and bones, so all vegetarians should check the label before buying into a new brand.


Buying organic bananas is a must for vegetarians as non-organic variants are sprayed with a pesticide called Chitosan, which is made from crab shells and shrimp, and is designed to fight bacteria and extend the amount of time it stays ripe. The banana itself is a fruit, but like many other food types, additional compounds are made up of animal matter.

Breakfast cereals

Cereals are another food type that can contain the connective tissues of animals in the form of gelatin. For Kellogg's branded cereals, beef gelatin is often used to ensure that the sugar remains intact on each cereal flake or piece. This binding agent is created by boiling animal parts.

Parmesan cheese

Animal rennet is considered an important ingredient for authentic parmesan cheese. This enzyme is derived from the stomachs of calves and lambs and is used to create curds and whey. Many cheeses were once made with rennet, but experts now claim that 95 per cent of American-made products use a vegetarian-friendly ingredient.

Frozen vegetables

Gelatin appears to be a common blight for veggies, and it pops up again in many packaged frozen vegetable offerings. In the UK, steamer packs often contain whey.


There are many brands of chocolate that use the coagulating enzyme rennet during the manufacturing process. Milk and white varieties of chocolate are more likely to contain this enzyme, so it is important to check before consumption. Cadbury’s actually tell consumers whether their products are veggie-friendly on labels.

Ice cream

Capric acid, which is obtained from animal fats, is often used in ice cream and other sweets and baked goods, according to research by the Vegetarian Resource Group. Renowned chef Jamie Oliver also claims that some vanilla ice cream and strawberry syrup products may have traces of “beaver anal glands” in the form of castoreum. This is listed as a safe food additive, according to food experts, but it is not suitable for vegetarians.

Chewing gum

Animal fat in the form of gelatine, stearic acid, glycerin and lanolin is used in many chewing gum brands. A statement by the Vegan Resource Group claims that these products often have an ingredient called gum base listed on the label, but this can cover up non-vegan-friendly components.


Whey powder rears its head once again in crisp-based products such as Walkers’ Tomato Ketchup flavour.


While figs are not meat based, they can contain insects as wasps often pollinate on them and then get stuck inside. However, you will not be able to see them as they are quickly converted to protein.

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Comment by Jenita

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