By Mickey Z., Planet Green
At first glance, it might seem like a simple task to avoid animal products in your food if you’ve elected to do so. After all, meat, dairy, eggs, fish, honey, etc. need no introduction. Not so fast. There’s more out there (or should I say “in there”?) than even the most seasoned vegan could imagine. Who knew the dirty little secret behind something called lipase? It’s an enzyme from the stomach and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs found in some vitamin supplements.
No matter where you stand on the animal exploitation meter, you might want to know that blood from slaughtered animals is used as adhesive in plywood, or that the keratin in your shampoo comes from ground-up horns, hoofs, feathers, quills, and hair of various creatures. Go ahead and see if those aromatic folks behind the cosmetics counter know amylase is an enzyme prepared from the pancreas of hogs. Musk may or may not sound animal-derived, but how enticing is that pricey perfume after discovering it is obtained from the genitals of the North Asian small hornless deer?
This indigestion-inducing inventory goes on below and won’t be popular in your local tavern. Some beers contain gelatin, but it’s wine that would send shudders down any veggie’s spine: isinglass (internal membranes of fish bladders), egg albumen, and even ox blood are often added as fining agents. Yikes…and I haven’t yet mentioned abstract ingredients like “cruelty.”
So, brace yourselves, here comes the top 8 hidden animal-derived ingredients to avoid:
Nope, this ain’t a character on The Sopranos but rather a red food coloring made from ground up cochineal beetles. Found in fruit drinks, sauces, and bottled cherries, carmine, says Wiki, is also used as a fabric and cosmetics dye, “as well as for oil paints, pigments, and watercolors. When used as a food additive, the dye must be labeled on packaging labels.” The cultivation of cochineal beetles dates back to Mexico nearly 400 years ago. “Today,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “the bugs are raised on farms in Peru, Mexico, and the Canary Islands, where they feed on cacti. The bodies of female beetles are dried, ground, and heated, and the colored powder is filtered out. It takes 70,000 beetles to make one pound of marketable carmine.” This insect version of the slaughterhouse is not only non-vegan, it’s a potential health hazard. Allergies to carmine can be severe. If you prefer your candy didn’t contain crushed beetles, PETA has some suggestions for bug-free sweets.
Where is the carmine hidden?
Fruit drinks, sauces, bottled cherries, fabric and cosmetics dye, oil paints, pigments, and watercolors.
Related: The Gross Truth About Natural Colors
A protein found in milk and used in many foods as a binding agent, casein is often used in bread, processed cereals, instant soups, instant potatoes, margarine, salad dressings, sweets, and mixes for cakes. Casein is also found in some medication. To make things especially confusing, it’s even in some products labeled “lactose-free.” While this is a hidden trap for those seeking a truly vegan diet, the implications can run deeper for anyone allergic to this animal product. Another reason to read those ingredient labels carefully is the growing evidence of a link between casein and autism. As reported by PETA,” scientific studies have shown that many autistic kids improve dramatically when put on a diet free of dairy foods. One study of 20 children found a major reduction in autistic behavior in kids who were put on a casein-free diet.” Again, “lactose-free” doesn’t always mean “dairy-free,” even in products like soy cheese, so read those labels.
Where is the casein hidden?
Some soy cheeses, bread, processed cereals, instant soups, instant potatoes, margarine, salad dressings, sweets, and mixes for cakes.
Related: Addicted to Cheese? Here’s Why