5 Surprising Foods that Contain Animal Products

vegan diet
Here are surprising foods that contain animal products so you can replace them with vegan substitutes.

You think you’re following a vegan diet, but you might be bringing animal-derived ingredients into it without even realizing it. Here are surprising foods that contain them so you can replace them with vegan substitutes.

Worcestershire Sauce

The reason why this sauce isn’t vegan is that it often contains anchovies. The good thing is that you can make your own Worcestershire sauce that’s completely vegan without having to worry about any animal products that are in it.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of mustard powder
  • Pinch of teaspoon onion powder

How to Make it:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, then place them on a saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, continuing to stir it well.
  3. After a minute of it simmering on the stove, remove it and allow it to cool.

Orange Juice

You might think that orange juice is the last place where you’d find animal ingredients, but this is surprisingly not always the case. When an orange juice is listed as Vitamin-D enhanced, it usually means this nutrient is derived from animal ingredients. It sometimes comes from lanolin, which is an oil fibre found in the wool of sheep.

Avoid canned juices. The FDA has a guide for how many insect fragments are allowed in products, due to unavoidable defects that could occur, including those permitted in canned fruit juices. According to their ‘Defects Level Handbook‘, canned fruit juices are allowed to contain a maggot per every 250 milliliters. Scary stuff.

Instead of buying orange juice, make your own with a juice press machine. It’s better for you, undergoes no processing, and you know exactly what you’ve put into it. You could also add orange juice to other juice recipes so that you amplify your antioxidant intake.

Red Sweets

Those colorful red sweets look delicious, but you should give them a skip if you’re vegan. Red candy often contains carmine. This is an ingredient taken from cochineal insects. How it’s extracted is by boiling the beetles. Carmine is often listed as Red 4, Crimson Lake, E120, C.I. 75470 or Cochineal.

Another ingredient to look out for is shellac. This is a type of resin that is secreted by the lac bug. It might also be marked on the product as ‘confectioner’s glaze.’

Check ingredients lists and choose only vegan candy brands or satisfy your sweet craving with naturally colourful and sweet fruits, such as watermelons, strawberries and cherries.

Parmesan Cheese

It’s not just vegans who need to worry. If you’re vegetarian, therefore allowing dairy into your diet, you might be surprised to discover that not all cheeses are vegetarian! Parmesan cheese is one type that contains rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomachs of young calves or lambs. If the product just says ‘rennet’ without explaining if it is derived from animals or plants, then you need to check with the manufacturer. Your safest bet: choose cheeses that are clearly listed as vegetarian.


You love creamy and delicious yogurt, but there are two animal products that can crop up in your favourite tub. These are: gelatin, which is made from bones, skin and connective tissues of animals and is sometimes used to give yogurt its velvety texture; and casein, which is an animal protein often found in non-vegan dairy. Always look at the ingredients list to be sure that your yogurt is free of animal products.

Image credit: Minerva Studio

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