Surprising Foods You Think Are Vegan But Aren't

By: Kara Lydon, R.D.N.  |  EatingWell.com, October 2016
Sneaky foods you thought were vegan that you might need to check twice.
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Is wine vegan? What about bread? It's not always easy for a vegan to tell which foods are safe and it can be even harder for someone new to vegan eating to decide which foods are truly vegan. It's important to double-check labels and ingredient lists to avoid hidden animal-based ingredients in your foods and beverages. Here are a list of foods that aren't always vegan that you might want to watch out for.
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Chocolate: Cocoa itself is vegan, but sometimes milk or milk products are added—even to dark chocolate. Many chocolate brands call out if their product is vegan, but check the ingredient list for dairy (including whey and casein).
Beer and wine: Isinglass, a gelatin-based substance derived from fish, is used as a clarifying agent in some beer and wine. Other nonvegan ingredients sometimes used are casein (from milk) and egg whites. Since those ingredients aren't listed on wines and beers you should ask a store employee or contact the brand if you have questions.
Candy: Sugary sweets like gummies, sour candies and marshmallows may contain gelatin. Gelatin is derived from animal collagen and would be listed as an ingredient. Many candies are made with other vegan thickening agents, such as agar-agar.
Sugar: Table sugar is made from either sugarcane or sugar beets, both completely plant-based ingredients. Some sugar is processed with bone char, which is used in the refining process and helps whiten sugar. Sugar certified as USDA organic is not allowed to use bone char, and many brands are calling out when they are vegan.
Nondairy creamers: Don't be fooled by the nondairy description—many of these creamers contain small amounts (less than 2 percent) of sodium caseinate, a milk-based derivative.
Foods with red dye: Some red-dyed food and drinks (e.g., yogurt, juices, sodas and candies) may contain an ingredient called carmine (or cochineal or carmic acid), which is derived from an insect, cochineal scale. Look at the ingredient list on foods made with red dye.
Worcestershire sauce: Although vegan-friendly brands are available, traditional recipes for this condiment include anchovies.
Veggie burger: Many veggie burgers contain eggs or dairy, so check the labels. Luckily, you can easily find vegan varieties at the store.
Honey: Honey is a little controversial among the vegan community. Because it comes from bees, many—but not all—vegans choose to avoid honey.
Miso soup: Many restaurants use a fish-based broth (dashi) to make their miso soup, so ask if there is a vegetarian version on the menu. However, the ingredient miso is vegan-friendly and you can make vegan miso soup at home.
Breads: Some breads may contain milk, eggs, butter or other animal byproducts.
Soy-based yogurts and cheeses: You would think these products would be vegan, but not always. Read the label to make sure these soy-based products do not contain the milk-based protein casein.
Omega-3-fortified products: Heart-healthy orange juice boasts omega-3s because it contains fish-based ingredients like tilapia, sardine and anchovy. Make sure to check other foods with an omega-3 promise to see if they're vegan.
Related:
22-Day Vegan Meal Plan
Easy Vegan Lunches for Work
How Vegans Can Get the Nutrients They Need