Vegan lifestyle

I will slowly add information as I find it.

Agricultural Research Service United States Department of Agriculture

WebMD: Better information. Better health. Food Calorie Counter

Hidden Animal Products

It is very difficult to avoid animals products in this ‘modern day and age’. Here is a list of some common things that surprisingly contain animal derivatives and others that are safe.

Casein: This is a product made when milk is heated with an acid, like lactic acid. This stuff mostly occurs in “no-lactose” soy cheeses like Soyco, Soy Kaas, AlmondRella, Zero-FatRella, HempRella, and TofuRella Slices. The labels say “lactose-free” (lactose is another milk derivative), but that doesn’t mean they are therefore vegan, as we used to incorrectly assume. Soymage soy cheese is 100% vegan, but it’s kind of gross. Vegan-Rella is also totally vegan. Casein is also used in plastics, adhesives, and paint manufacturing.
Caseinate: Casein mixed with a metal, like calcium caseinate or sodium caseinate.
Chewing Gum: Some chewing gums contain glycerine. Wrigleys gum contains a vegetarian source of glycerine.
Margarines: Can contain fish and other marine oils. Many margarines contain whey.
Nougat: Usually contains gelatine.
Pasta: May contain egg, especially if fresh. Some pasta in Italy contains squids’s ink; this can easily be recognized because the pasta is black.
Pastes: Glues. May be animal or fish derived.
Pastry: Animal fats used in most shop-baked pies etc. Check ingredients.
Phosphates: Derived from glycerol and fatty acids. May be from animal bones too.
Rennet: An enzyme taken from the stomach of a newly killed calf. Used in the cheese making process. Look for rennin or the words “made without animal rennet”.
Shortening: Can be made from animal fats. Used in the food industry especially pastries and biscuits.
Stearate: This usually comes in the form of _calcium stearate_, and it is found in hard candies like Gobstoppers and Sweetarts as well as other places. It comes from stearic acid, which usually is derived from tallow, or animal fat. Stearate is also used in vinyls (like car seats) and plastics.
Sweets: Watch out for gelatine, eg.: wine gums. Nearly all mints eg.: Polo, Trebor, Extra Strong etc contain gelatine. See also Nougat.
Whey: Liquid part of Milk

What is lipase and tallow?
from readers: lipase – the enzyme which breaks down all fats (or “lipids,” hence “lipase”). tallow – usually what chips, potato cakes, hash browns are soaked in before being packaged and sold, it’s a type of fat, usually its beef tallow.

Is all lysine animal derived?
from a reader: I have a bottle from a company which mostly makes vegetarian vitamins although they have no interest in being a strictly vegan company, the salesperson claims that most of their products are plant derived even glutamine and other amino acids. I hear that a lack of lysine under times of stress can cause coldsore outbreaks which I suffer from time to time, also I am a heavy weight trainer and glutimime is supposed to support the immune system under times of great stress. If anyone knows of alternatives or a company who sells these two amino acids and are postive that they are vegan please let me know, also one more thought, is it possible that a vegan who is an athlete may suffer from lack of these nutrients?

Can the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin be manufactured from non-animal sources?
Maybe a better question is why you would want to supplement these in the first place. If I’m not mistaken, they’re just substituted polysaccharides, surely broken down by the digestive system into simple sugars (ie glucose) long before having any specific biological effect. –Mark

I’ve asked a number of manufacturers how they make glucosamine and the answer is always based on fish. – Jerry

According to the abstract below, oral glucosamine is incorporated into joint cartilage. Evidence for benefit in the treatment of osteoarthritis is consistent among several clinical trials, but is not conclusive due to methodologic errors. As I understand it, little if any testing of chodroitin, either alone or in combination with glucosamine, has been reported. –Jay

Ann Pharmacother 1998 May;32(5):574-9 Glucosamine. Barclay TS, Tsourounis C, McCart GM School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco 94143, USA.

What are mono and di-glycerides?
from members of ivu-sci: Triglycerides make up about 95% of dietary lipids (fats). A molecule of triglyceride is formed when a molecule of glycerol (a 3-carbon alcohol) combines with 3 fatty acid molecules. Occasionally only one or two fatty acids combine with a glycerol molecule to form monoglycerides and diglycerides respectively. Mono- and diglycerides are esters of edible fat-forming acids usually of the sweet alcohol glycerin. These chemicals are made synthetically for the primary purpose as an emulsifier in oleomargarine. Also used in bakery products to maintain “softeness”, in beverages, ice cream, ices, ice milk, milk, chewing gum bvase, shortening, lard, confections, sweet chocolate chocolate, rendered animal fat, and whipped toppings. Also being studied for possible cancer-causing effects.

Is soya lecithin vegetarian?
from a nutritionist in Canada: Yes, it comes from soybeans. Sometimes lecithin is derived from eggs or other animal products.

Can lecithin be derived from dairy products?
answers wanted…

Do the omega 3 fats in linseeds become oxidised when linseeds are used in baking, such as in bread?
from a nutritionist in Canada: here has been considerable controversy about the stability of flaxseed due to the high content of highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed appears more stable than would be expected considering its n-3 content. Ratnayake showed no deterioration after 44 weeks of storage at room temp. However, it is suggested that flax seed be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for maximum protection. Ratnakye also showed that there was no significant effect on n-3 content or POV (peroxide value) after an hour of cooking at 350 degrees F. for either whole or ground seeds. Cunnane et al had similar results. The bottom line is that baking at moderate temperatures appears safe for both ground and whole flax seed.

Recently, I learned that pepsin is a chemical which contains pig blood and is used in Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. Is that true?

No, they originally did but don’t now. Pepsi was named after pepsin.Although this is a common myth it is not true. Neither Pepsi nor Coca Cola contain pepsin.

Are emulsifiers, enzymes, and stablisers animal derived ingredients?
from a reader: Emulsifiers can be animal and enzymes can be animal (as well as plant). Enzymes can be also bacterial and fungal. I’ve never heard of stablisers. If a product specifically says that it’s enzymes or emulsifiers (or glycerides or natural flavors or stearic acids or…) are not derived from animal products, than you are in the clear. However, most likely the product will not list that it is derived from animals. My rules of thumb are* – if a brand specifies that an ingredient is not animal derived, than it is ok – if that same brand lists the same ingredient for a different product and does not specify that it is not animal derived, than it probably is – and if a brand never specifies that an ingredient is not animal derived, than it’s 50/50 (more like 20/80 because I would personally bet from my consumer experience that most ingredients that may come from an animal do come from an animal).

Which ingredients in sweets should you avoid?
from a reader in the USA: Two ingredients that may or may not be animal derived are glycerides (mono – diglycerides) and Natural Flavors. Mono and Diglycerides are popular in most foods that you buy, and I think that they are actually emulsifiers. They may be plant or animal derived. Here is the definition of Natural Flavors according to Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations – “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

What is cochineal/carmine?
Cochineal is a bright red colouring matter made from the dried bodies of a Mexican insect Dactylopius coccus. Billions of these insects are raised and destroyed each year for a red colouring that is used in desserts, some strawberry soya milks, clothing, etc.

Which animal derived ingredients kill the animal?
from a member of ivu-sci: Not an easy question to answer! Meat and products such as leather, bonemeal, blood and gelatin are obvious ones, although in parts of India leather is made from the skins of cattle that have died a natural death.

For all practical purposes, fur and silk production also necessitate killing the animals. The obvious animal products which do NOT involve killing the animal are milk, eggs and wool. However, almost without exception, dairy cattle, laying hens and wool-bearing animals are slaughtered at the end of their productive lives and pass into the food chain.

What is cantharidin?
Cantharidin (C10H12O4) is the lactose of cantharidic acid and the active constituent of cantharides – dried Spanish flies “Lytta vesicatoria”. It has been used as an aphrodisiac and was formerly used as a counter-irritant in plaster form and in small quantities in hair lotions, but is liable to cause nephritis (kidney disease of toxic origin). – from Butterworth’s Medical Dictionary.

Is ‘gum base’ in chewing gum vegan?
from the Vegetarian Resource Group Most chewing gums innocuously list “gum base” as one of their ingredients, masking the fact that petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, and latex (a possible allergen) may be among the components. Because of standards of identity for items such as gum base and flavoring, manufacturers are not required to list everything in their product. According to Dertoline, a French chemical manufacturer, their adhesive “dercolytes” are used as a label and tape adhesive, as well as a chewing gum base. Many brands also list glycerin and glycerol as ingredients on the label. Both of them can be animal derived.

What is BHT, as found in prepared frozen foods, and most cereals used as a preservative?
from a subscriber to ivu-sci BHT is Butylated Hydroxytoluene. BHT is a preservative and antioxidant used as a chewing gum base for potato and sweet potato flakes and dry breakfast cereals. Also, an emulsion stabilizer for shortenings in enriched rice, animal fats, and shortenings containing animal fats. Also used to retard rancidity in frozen pork sausage and freeze-dried meats. Shown to cause offspring that have abnormal behavior patterns secondary to chemical changes in the brain (study in mice). BHT and BHA are chemically similar, but BHT may be more nephrotoxic (toxic to the kidneys). Prohibited in England, and under investigation in the US for “safe” amount. The FDA has an up-to-date databank called “PAFA” which may be online and will probably yield more up-to-date information.

Does low-fat margarine and butter contain animal products?
from a reader in the USA: Yes! check the ingredients. some contain gelatin.

from another reader in the USA: I”m pretty sure the Fleischmanns light margarine is vegan.

Are cashew oils bad for you?
from a nutritionist in Canada: Most nut oils are healthy choices (although eating nuts is even better!). While many other oils are mainly polyunsaturated fats, olive oil and nut oils (except walnut oil) are mainly monounsaturated fats, and cashew oil is no exception. If the oil is not refined, many of the beneficial components will remain in the oil (i.e.. plant sterols, vitamin E, etc.) Cashews are somewhat higher in saturated fat than many other nuts (20 percent sat fat as compare to 10 percent for almonds, 7 percent for hazelnuts and 6 percent for walnuts). This may be viewed as an advantage in terms of stability of the oil, however, it may be preferable to use other nut oils if keeping saturated fat to a minimum is a priority for you.

What about honey?
Bees are often killed in the production of honey, in the worst case the whole hive may be destroyed if the keeper doesn’t wish to protect them over the winter. Not all beekeepers do this, but the general practice is one that embodies the attitude that living things are mere *material* and have no intrinsic value of their own other than what commercial value we can wrench from them. Artificial insemination involving death of the male is now also the norm for generation of new queen bees. The favoured method of obtaining bee sperm is by pulling off the insects head. Decapitation sends an electrical impulse to the nervous system which causes sexual arousal. The lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate. The resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe.

and sugar?
Some refined sugars use bone charcoal as a decolourant. In the UK Tate and Lyle and Billingtons sugars are free of animal substances. British Sugar, trading as Silver Spoon (the largest UK supplier) state that their white sugar is vegan but they cannot guarantee their brown sugars as some bone charcoal may be used by their suppliers. No data is presently available concerning sugar in other countries.

from a reader: The problem with sugar isn’t just the refining process – non-organic cane sugar fields are burned, killing the animals that live in them. For a guaranteed vegan sugar, look for “organic evaporated cane juice” or “organic dehydrated cane juice” or just “organic cane sugar”

In the UK the shiny Washington red apples are glazed with shellac, which is a resin produced from insects.

dried bananas?
Many are dipped in honey. In the UK they often don’t mention this on the label.

Some bakers grease the tins with animal fat. If you’re using a local bakery ask them what they grease their tins with. In the UK Allied bakeries (makers of Allinson wholemeal) have stated they only use vegetable oils.

In the UK all Kellogs products were previously unsuitable for vegans as Vitamin D3 (of animal origin) is added though in the US some of Kellogg’s cereals were apparently vegan, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal (plain “Wheat” variety only) is a good vegan source of B12. Be careful though, the almond-raisin variety contains animal based glycerin.

Apparently the Kellogs website now give a long list of products which are suitable for vegans, though we are unsure which countries this relates to. Ingredients can change from time to time and multinationals often use different ingredients in diffeferent countries. Continual checking is the only answer.

crisps (potato chips)?
Many manufacturers use whey as the flavour carrier. Check with your local vegan society as to what crisps are vegan.

– anything else?
For sure. If a manufacturer can stick some part of an animal in something, chances are they probably will. Learn to be a fastidious label reader and avoid products not properly labelled unless you know for sure that they are suitable for vegans. Buy products from companies who make their stance on animal products known. Look out for ethically vegan companies and support them when possible.

Some foods have “E” numbers listed in the ingredients, with no mention as to the source of these E numbers. Ones to definitely avoid include:

  • 120 – cochineal
  • 441 Gelatin(e)
  • 542 – edible bone phosphate
  • 631 – sodium 5′-inosinate
  • 901 – beeswax
  • 904 – shellac
  • 920 – L-cysteine hydrochloride

Un-numbered: calcium mesoinositol hexaphosphate, lactose, sperm oil, spermaceti

Possibly animal derived: 101, 101a, 153, 203, 213, 227, 270, 282, 302, 322, 325, 326, 327, 333, 341a, 341b, 341c, 404, 422, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 436, 470, 471, 472a, 472b, 472c, 472d, 472e, 473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 481, 482, 483, 491, 492, 493, 494, 495, 570, 572, 627, 635

Un-numbered: calcium hepatonate, calcium phytate, diacetin-glyceryl, glyceryl diacetate, glyceryl triacetate, glycine, leucine, monoacetate, monoacetin, oxystearin, triacetin and any unspecified flavourings.

Are candy canes vegetarian?
from a reader in the USA: As far as candy canes go, they’re little more than sugar. You shouldn’t be eating them anyway. (I should talk; I love candy canes!) I don’t know if they contain animal products, but candy canes are on my ‘out’ list as I progress to a more healthy diet.

Does chocolate contain animal products?
from a reader in the USA: Chocolate in most cases is not vegan. Most chocolate contains whey, milk solids and refined sugar. However there is hope, there is “tropical source” chocolate bars, squares and chips. They are available in most health food stores. Newmans also has vegan or “nearly” vegan chocolate chips. [note: in the UK: Plamil, and other brands of vegan chocoalte are availbale from health stores].

Is Maple Syrup vegetarian/vegan?
Yes, rumours abound about maple syrup containing pork fat. The US vegan society has checked all known sources and found that they are all suitable for vegans.

from a reader in Canada: The answer would be that in it’s natural form, yes of course it is. However those with environmental concerns should be aware that it takes approx 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of syrup. The method used for reducing the syrup is to boil, boil, boil it for hours until it thickens. Being largely a cottage industry, this is traditionally done outside with large metal kettles over natural wood fires. The amount of wood required is huge, requiring trees to be cut the previous year for firewood, killing many small woodland inhabitants, depriving larger animals of natural habitat and with the resulting smoke contributing to pollution and global warming. No doubt some producers operate in a sustainable manner and scientific studies have shown that pollution from woodsmoke has a tendancy to remain local, but consumers of that wonderful sweet syrup might wish to be aware of these facts. A friend told me this week that he and his father tapped 118 trees in northern New Brunswick this year, burned for a week and came out with 3 gallons of syrup. Seems like a high price to pay.

Do vegans consume yeast?
from a reader in Spain: Yes they do. Yeasts belong to the same group of organisms as mushrooms. Here’s a dictionary defintion: fun·gus (fnggs) n., pl. fun·gi (fnj, fngg) or fun·gus·es. Any of numerous eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Fungi, which lack chlorophyll and vascular tissue and range in form from a single cell to a body mass of branched filamentous hyphae that often produce specialized fruiting bodies. The kingdom includes the yeasts, molds, smuts, and mushrooms.

Are there vegan marshmellows available?
(we are informed that a company called ‘Emes’ which used to produce the in the USA has gone out of business)

Here’s a recipes to make your own:

Can I eat at fast food places like McDonalds or Taco-Bell?
nfortunately there is no simple answer to this. Many Companies allow individual stores to decide part of their menu, or the ingredients used. In general, you should:

  1. Ask for a nutrition information booklet. Asking an employee may not be enough.
  2. If the food in question contains an undesired element, ask if it can be substituted for, or deleted altogether.
  3. Fill out a comment card, if you think their menu does not have enough selection. If the company receives enough of these, they may decide to follow up on them.
  4. Taco-Bell do not use lard anymore in their cooking.

Are vegetarians/vegans allowed to eat seafood?
Anyone is ‘allowed’ to eat anything they like. However all the standard definitions of vegetarian and vegan exclude any form fish or other seafood. There are people who eat fish and mistakenly call themselves ‘vegetarian’, but that does not comply with any commonly used definition.

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