Ingredient What It Is Where You Find It
Albumin The protein component of egg whites Processed foods
Anchovies Small, silver-colored fish Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing
Animal shortening Butter, suet, lard Packaged cookies and crackers, refried beans, flour tortillas, ready-made piecrusts
Carmine (carmine cochineal or carminic acid) Red coloring made from a ground-up insect Bottled juices, colored pasta, some candies, frozen pops
Casein (caseinate) A milk protein Dairy products and some soy cheeses.
Gelatin Protein from bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin of animals Marshmallows, yogurt, frosted cereals, gelatin-containing desserts
Glucose (dextrose) Animal tissues and fluids (some glucose can come from fruits) Baked goods, soft drinks, candies, frosting
Glycerides (mono-, di-, and triglycerides) Glycerol from animal fats or plants Processed foods
Isinglass Gelatin from the air bladder of sturgeon and other freshwater fish Alcoholic beverages, some jellied desserts
Lactic acid An acid formed by bacteria acting on the milk sugar lactose Cheese, yogurt, pickles, olives, sauerkraut, candy, frozen desserts, fruit preserves
Lactose (saccharum lactin, D-lactose) Milk sugar As a culture medium for souring milk and in processed foods
Lactylic stearate Salt of stearic acid (see stearic acid) As a conditioner in bread dough
Lard Fat from the abdomens of pigs Baked goods, refried beans
Lecithin Phospholipids from animal tissues, plants, and egg yolks Breakfast cereal, candy, chocolate, baked goods, margarine, vegetable oil sprays
Lutein Deep yellow coloring from marigolds or egg yolks Commercial food coloring
Oleic acid (oleinic acid) Animal tallow Synthetic butter, cheese, vegetable fats and oils, candy, ice cream, beverages, condiments
Pepsin Enzyme from pigs’ stomachs Cheese
Stearic acid (octadecanoic acid) Tallow, other animal fats and oils Vanilla flavoring, baked goods, beverages, candy
Suet Hard white fat around kidneys and loins of animals Margarine, mincemeat, pastries
Tallow Solid fat of sheep and cattle separated from the membranous tissues Margarine
Vitamin A (A1, retinol) Vitamin obtained from vegetables, egg yolks, or fish liver oil Vitamin supplements, fortification of foods
Vitamin B12 Vitamin produced by microorganisms and found in all animal products; synthetic form (cyanocobalamin or cobalamin on labels) is vegan Supplements, fortified foods
Vitamin D3 Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from fish liver oils or lanolin Supplements, fortified foods
Whey Watery liquid that separates from the solids in cheese-making Crackers, breads, cakes, processed foods



Take a look at our list of foods that aren’t vegetarian- or vegan-friendly.

Bagels and bread products

Many bread products contain an amino acid known as L-cysteine, which is used as a softening agent. L-cysteine is derived from either human hair or poultry feathers, and it can be found in many popular brand-name products. Businesses that have acknowledged they’ve used L-cysteine include Lender’s, Einstein Bros., McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

Beer and wine

Isinglass, a gelatin-like substance collected from the bladders of freshwater fish like the sturgeon, is used in the clarification process of many beers and wines. Other agents used for the process of fining include egg white albumen, gelatin and casein. To check if a beer or wine is vegan, visit


Numerous foods contain gelatin, a protein derived from the collagen in cow or pig bones, skin and connective tissues. It’s often used as a thickening or stabilizing agent and can be found in a variety of candies, including Altoids, gummy candies and Starburst chews, among others.

Also, many red candies contain a dye made from the extracts of dried bodies of the Coccus cacti bugs. The ingredient is often listed as carmine, cochineal or carminic acid. PETA maintains a list of animal-free candy.

Caesar dressing

Most Caesar salad dressings contain anchovy paste, but there are vegetarian brands available, so be sure to read the label before you pour.


It’s fairly common knowledge that Jell-O contains gelatin, but did you know you can make vegan Jell-O by using agar-agar, a gelatinous substance made from algae? Here’s our recipe.


Gelatin strikes again, but luckily you can make your own vegan marshmallows with agar-agar, so you won’t miss out on any of the gooey s’mores goodness.

Non-dairy creamer

Although it has non-dairy in its name, many such creamers contain casein, a protein derived from milk.

Omega-3 products

Many products with labels that boast their heart-healthy ingredients contain omega-3fatty acids derived from fish. For example, Tropicana’s Hearth Healthy orange juice’s label lists tilapia, sardine and anchovy as ingredients.


Some brands of peanuts, such as Planters dry roasted peanuts, also contain gelatin because the substance helps salt and other spices adhere to the nuts.

Potato chips

Some flavored potato chips, especially those flavored with powdered cheese, can contain casein, whey or animal-derived enzymes. PETA maintains a list of vegan-friendly snacks.

Refined sugar

Sugar isn’t naturally white, so manufacturers process it using bone char, which is made from the bones of cattle. To avoid sugar filtered with bone char, purchase unrefined sugar or buy from brands that don’t use bone-char filters.

Refried beans

Many canned refried beans are made with hydrogenated lard, so check labels to ensure you’re buying vegetarian beans.

Vanilla-flavored foods

Although it’s rare, some foods are flavored with Castoreum, a beaver anal secretion. As gross at that sounds, the FDA classifies it as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe,” and Castoreum is typically listed as “natural flavoring.” The additive is most often used in baked goods as a vanilla substitute, but it’s also been used in alcoholic beverages, puddings, ice cream, candy and chewing gum.

Worcestershire sauce

This popular sauce is made with anchovies, but vegetarian-friendly brands are available.


Here are 8 foods that could contain ‘hidden’ animal products:

  • Bagels – The Huffington Post reports thatseveral bagel and breads contain the ingredient known as L-cysteine. This amino acid is reportedly commonly derived from human hair or poultry feathers. Wonderbread and Lenders are just a few offenders.
  • Red Juices, candies, and popsicles – A red colorant known as carmine, cochineal or carminic acid actually comes from a ground-up beetle. Dannon uses (or has used) crushed beetles (carmine) to color its yogurts.
  • Marshmallows – Gelatin is not only found in marshmallows, but also in desserts and cereals. It is a protein derived from animal bones, tendons, cartilage, and skin.
  • Beer – Many beer-makers, including Guinness, use something called isinglass, which is a gelatin from fish bladders. (Beer makers also use gelatin in their brews).
  • Berry-flavored foods – Castoreumis considered a “natural flavor,” so many food makers don’t go beyond labeling it as such in the ingredient’s list. However, this flavor is derived from the anal glands of beavers. Yes, really.

Read: 7 Foods You may Not Know Contain Gluten

  • Orange juice with Omega-3 – Be cautious of any foods that have added Omega-3 fats. In the case of Tropicana’s Heart Health with Omega-3 orange juice, the added fats are from fish oil.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Most people are aware of the animal-derived ingredient(s) in Worcestershire sauce. Just in case you aren’t, however, this sauce contains anchovies.
  • Pickles – Some pickles, olives, and fruit preserves contain lactic acid. Lactic acidis a dairy product, specifically an acid formed by bacteria on lactose.

In this day and age, everyone want to be informed about foods, their ingredients, and the origins of it all. It’s a tall order when food producers are less than forthcoming about their methods and formulas, but one we must adhere to if we want to be truly conscientious consumers.