Holy Cow! The Truth about 9 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian

For those of us that have been living vegetarian for a while, knowing what is and is not truly a vegetarian food may be easy. But for people who have recently adopted a vegetarian diet, some foods may be trickier than others. On Huffington Post this week, Rachael Grinnell shares 9 foods that many people think are vegetarian….but they’re not. Check this list and see if some of your foods are on it.

1. Refried beans.

Beans are a vegetarian staple and refried beans are a great way to enjoy them – if you make them at home or make sure they’re truly vegetarian. Most traditional preparations (including canned refried beans) are made with pig lard.

2. Tropicana Heart-Healthy Orange Juice

Few people would stop to think that there might be animal products in their orange juice. But this particular variety gets Omega-3 fatty acids from tilapia, sardines and anchovies. Buy the regular orange juice and get your Omega-3 fats from plant-based sources.

3. Parmesiano Reggiano

Authentic parmesiano reggiano from Italy is made to exacting standards in order to earn the label. Unfortunately, those standards include calf rennet, which is made from the stomach lining of calves. You can buy vegetarian versions, made with vegetable rennet, that tastes just as good, even if it isn’t endorsed by Italy.

4. Marshmallows.

Just in time for Halloween! Marshmallows (as well as gummy candies) are made from gelatin, which is made from pig and cow bones. There are vegetarian versions, but they’re expensive and hard to find. Why not make your own homemade candies this year?


5. Some potato and other chips.

Chips with cheese and other flavorings are often made with enzymes from pigs. The article has a link to Frito-Lay’s list of products that are made without this enzyme. Check it out before you grab those bags of chips for the football party.

6. Worcestershire sauce.

Most worcestershire sauce is made with anchovy extracts, but you can find vegetarian versions if you search online or ask at your local health food market.

7. Bagels.

Yes, bagels. And no, it’s not a problem with eggs.

Some bagels — including Lender’s — are made with the amino acid L-cysteine, which comes from either human hair or poultry feathers. Lender’s lists the ingredient clearly on their labels while other companies, including Wonderbread, don’t even know which source their ingredient is from, according to a Fortune report.”

8. Altoids.

Altoids, like gummies and marshmallows, use gelatin. In the case of the mints, the gelatin acts as a stabilizer.

9. Guinness and other beers.

Guinness uses isinglass, made from fish bladders, to filter out impurities from the brewing process. It’s not listed on the label because it’s not actually considered an ingredient. Isinglass is used in making some other beers, so check with the makers of your favorite brand if you’re concerned.

Eating a vegetarian diet means having to be a little more vigilant about labels than you might think. But it’s clear that there are animal products in unexpected places.

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3 Responses to Holy Cow! The Truth about 9 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian

  1. Jenny Sangler October 1, 2013 at 3:47 am #

    Are you surprised with this list? How are you going to replace these non-vegetarian foods? Don’t hesitate to leave your comments below.

    – Jenny Sangler

  2. Lisa October 1, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    Very eye opening. I did not know about OJ and bagels. Yuck! Thanks for sharing.

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