Die Hard vegan or meat lover? Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s one thing we should all agree on, and that’s the fact that we should at least know when we are consuming animal products! Sounds pretty obvious right? You’d be surprised.
We’ve put together a list of food, drink and even skincare products that you may not have realised contain animal products.
1. Bloody Mary
Dang. We love a good bloody Mary but be warned if you are veggie as one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovy. Not just any anchovy, these little guys are fermented in vinegar-filled wooden tanks for 18 months.
However, if you are veggie don’t worry. There are plenty of umami vegan alternatives now widely available in supermarkets. Hurrah!
Whilst on the subject of cocktails, those lovely frothy cocktails you get in bars (when they re-open) may contain egg-white. Cocktails such as the ramos gin fizz, the clover club and whiskey or amaretto sours are all made with egg-white. If you fancy a vegan version, check out our blog of egg-white alternatives!
We can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve been to a pub or restaurant and the only veggie option is a parmesan risotto or a dish with pesto.
Unfortunately, most supermarket pesto brands aren’t vegetarian. Parmesan, a key ingredient in pesto, contains rennet which is an enzyme found in the stomach of a goat or calf.4. Cheese
It’s not just Parmesan. Pecorino Romano, Manchego, Gruyère and Gorgonzola all contain rennet. If you’re veggie, make sure you check the packet of your favourite cheeses in the supermarkets, as many won’t be suitable.
5. Wine and Spirits
Alcohol is a minefield when it comes to the use of animal products, due to the lack of transparency and no need to disclose the information. In the UK, manufacturers don’t have to include a full list of ingredients for anything over 1.2% abv.
Apart from the odd animal derived ingredients added to the product, most of the use is as a filter or refiner. Albumen (egg white), albumin (dried blood), gelatine (pigs and cows) honey and pepsin (from pigs) are all ingredients that could be used in your drinks.
Many wines and vermouths out there use isinglass as a filter; a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish.
6. Fizzy drinks
A tropical can of Lilt contains fish gelatine, which is used as a stabler for a colourant that is added to the drink. To read a bit more into gelatine production we found this was an interesting, informative article.
Cider is another thing to check! Up until a couple of years ago, many UK cider companies used gelatine to filter their drinks. As of writing this blog, Kopperberg was one we found that still uses it in production.
Oh, and if you're a vegan, be warned; Schweppes Indian Tonic Water contains honey!
Many icing sugars in the UK such as Tate and Lyle and Silver Spoon contain egg-white.
If you’re in the US be warned! Many standard refined sugars are bleached using bone char (the charred bones of animals). The bone char (which we’ve heard referred to as “natural animal-derived charcoal”) is used to bleach the sugar, and as of last year, an estimated 25% of all refined sugar in the US uses it. One company who uses some suppliers of yummy bone char sugar is Oreo cookies (don’t worry, the UK versions don’t use it!)
8. Red Food Colouring
We thought it was a myth told by our parents to stop us from eating sweets, but it’s well known now that the cochineal beetle is used as a dye for foods and many make-up brands. Once harvested, the female beetle's exoskeleton is crushed to create a brilliant crimson red dye.
In 2017 Peru exported carmine to the value if £33 million, so it’s certainly a HUGE income for the economy, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. UK food products that include carmine include Mr Kipling, Haribo strawberry sweets and lots of supermarket jelly brands.
Look out for the following terms which mean the cochineal beetle was used; "Carmine”, “Crimson Lake,” “Natural Red 4,” or “E120.”
Not only do many lipsticks contain cochineal, but that lovely shimmery glow you get may just be from pig fat.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid found in many anti-ageing creams can also come from pig and cow placenta, and keratin used in many hair products can come from animal hooves.
Some non-vegan friendly brands we know of are Neutrogena, Oil of Olay, Avon and Revlon. This poses an extra issue for anyone of Muslim faith. Not only do many brands contain hidden traces of pork, but there's the added issue that they also contain alcohol.
There are however plenty of affordable vegan make-up brands now widely available, Superdrug in particular has a huge range. Plus, there are a few halal brands now starting to emerge on the market, as consumer awareness increases.
The gland in the rear of our North American friends, the Beaver, is known as the castor sac. It’s from this sac that we can collect a lovely gooey secretion known as castoreum that apparently smells of leather, and blends perfectly in perfumes to give those delightful earthy, musky tones. Castoreum was also quite commonly used in vanilla flavoured food products throughout the last century. As to how someone came to find out the anal secretion of a beaver was tasty, we’ll never know. Imagine explaining that discovery to your mates.
The following perfumes are said to contain castoreum, so for as low as £30 you can check out beaver bum for yourself!
Dior Diorama, Givenchy Ysatis, Guerlain Shalimar
So that's that! Anything surprising in there?
At Mindful Mixology, we research each product to make sure they are vegan-friendly so you don't need to worry. We're actually going through the motions to being vegan certified which is understandably a LOT of paperwork, so watch this space.
We think if you do choose to eat animal products, at least make it worthwhile and appreciate it. And if you do have a musky perfume, say a quick thanks to the beavers.