If you steer clear of meat to support your health or a philosophical belief, you might be interested in knowing that eating animal-free may not always be so obvious. There’s no question where a steak came from, but what about beer? Or marshmallows? Here are twelve processed foods that may seem meatless but are derived from animals (cows, pigs, and/or fish) or may contain some animal by-products.
1. Jell-O® and Candy: such as, gummy candies, Starburst chews, Altoids: Many foods contain gelatin which is a protein derived from the collagen of cow or pig bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin. Gelatins are used as thickening or stabilizing agents in a variety of candies and gelatin-containing desserts.
2. Tropicana® Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice: – This juice is enriched with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from a fish source. The ingredient label states it contains fish oil and fish gelatin from tilapia, sardine and anchovy. Ingredients in Tropicana® Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice
3. Peanuts: Some brands of peanuts, such as Planters® Dry Roasted Peanuts, contain gelatin. The gelatin helps the salt, spices and flavorings adhere to the nuts.
Ingredients in Planters® Dry Roasted Peanuts: PEANUTS, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SEA SALT, SPICES (CONTAINS CELERY), DRIED ONION, DRIED GARLIC, PAPRIKA, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUGAR, GELATIN, TORULA YEAST, CORNSTARCH, DRIED CORN SYRUP, MALTODEXTRIN. CONTAINS: PEANUT.
4. Worcestershire Sauce: The essential ingredients of this liquid condiment are vinegar, molasses, spices, and anchovies. Ingredients in Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce
5. Caesar Salad Dressing: You may ask your waiter to hold the anchovies on your Caesar salad, but they’re most likely in the dressing in the form of anchovy paste AND Worcestershire sauce. There are vegetarian brands available, so be sure to read the ingredients list on the label.
6. Marshmallows: – Here’s another not-so-vegetarian food as marshmallows also contain gelatin. However, they can also be made with agar-agar, a gelatinous substance obtained from algae. In Japan, it is known as kanten.
7. Refried Beans: Many canned refried beans contain lard. Lard is pig fat. Vegetarian beans are available, but be sure to check the ingredients on the label to ensure it’s made with vegetable oil and not animal fat.
8. Frosted Mini-Wheats® and Frosted Pop-Tarts®: Again, gelatin is the culprit. Many frosted cereals are made with gelatin. Ingredients in Frosted Mini Wheats; Ingredients in Pop-Tarts Mini Crisps Frosted Strawberry
9. Non-Dairy Creamer: Although the name leads you to believe this product contains NO dairy, many such creamers contain sodium caseinate. Casein (caseinate) is a milk protein often used in dairy products and some soy cheeses.
Ingredients in Coffee-Mate® Non-Dairy Creamer: INGREDIENTS: CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL, HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE), AND LESS THAN 2% OF DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE (MODERATES COFFEE ACIDITY), MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES (PREVENTS OIL SEPARATION), SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, ANNATTO COLOR.
10. ”Veggie” Cheese: You may probably expect such products to be made only from plants, but some “veggie” cheeses contain casein (milk protein) as well as enzyme-modified cheese made with milk and cream. There are vegan cheeses available, so you’ll have to pay close attention to ingredient labels. Ingredients in Go Veggie! Lactose-free Cheddar Slices
11. Beer: In the brewing industry, isinglass is widely used in the ‘fining’ process to help collect yeast and solid particles that settle to the bottom of the cask. With the use of this gelatin-like substance, the unwanted yeast cells and particles collect and form into a gel-like mass which can then be removed. Isinglass is a by-product of the fishing industry.
More specifically, isinglass is a form of collagen extracted from swim bladders, i.e., the internal fish organs (usually from sturgeon) that help regulate buoyancy in water. Although it is only used as a fining agent, minor traces of isinglass may remain in the finished product. Gelatin is also used to clarify beer.
12. Wine: While wine is made essentially from grapes, animal-derived products may be used as a clearing agent in the production process. These agents give wine its appealing clarity. Isinglass, chitosan (the structural elements of the exoskeletons of crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp and other shell fish), egg whites, gelatin, and casein may be used as fining agents at different stages of the wine’s development. More info on fining agents from Winemaker Magazine®.