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  • Writer's pictureJustin G Nelson

Understanding Hidden Non-Vegan Ingredients in Food Labels

Navigating the world of food labels can be a challenging task, especially for those committed to a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. Many products on the shelves contain ingredients derived from animals, and these aren't always obvious. To help you make informed choices, we've compiled a comprehensive list of common non-vegan ingredients hidden in food labels.



Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

  1. Gelatin: Found in gummy candies and desserts, derived from animal skin and bones.

  2. Casein & Whey: Milk proteins present in dairy products and baked goods.

  3. Lactose: A milk sugar used in various processed foods.

  4. Albumin: Egg white protein, used in baking.

  5. Honey: A common sweetener produced by bees.

  6. Cochineal/Carmine: A red dye from crushed insects, used in candies and drinks.

  7. Isinglass: From fish bladders, used in clarifying beers and wines.

  8. Lanolin: Sheep wool grease, found in vitamin D3 supplements.

  9. Shellac: Bug secretion, used as a coating on candies and pills.

  10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Often sourced from fish.

  11. Vitamin D3: Typically derived from fish oil or sheep's wool.

  12. L-Cysteine: From feathers or hog hair, used in bread.

  13. Pepsin: Enzyme from pig stomach, used in cheese-making.

  14. Tallow: Animal fat, found in margarines and cosmetics.

  15. Glycerine/Glycerol: Can be animal fat-derived.

  16. Bone Char: Used in sugar refining.

  17. Rennet: From calves' stomachs, used in cheese.

  18. Collagen: From animal tissue, used in supplements.

  19. Keratin: From animal hair or horns, in hair care products.

  20. Beeswax: Used as a glaze in sweets.

  21. Royal Jelly & Propolis: Bee products in supplements and food.

  22. Animal-Derived Vitamin A: In fortified foods and supplements.

  23. Fish and Oyster Sauces: Common in Asian cooking.

  24. Worcestershire Sauce: Often contains anchovies.

  25. Egg and Milk Powders: In processed and baked goods.

  26. Suet and Lard: Animal fats used in cooking.

  27. Gelatinized Starch: Processed with animal products.

  28. Milk Solids: In processed foods.

  29. Fish Oil: In supplements and fortified foods.

  30. Caprylic Acid: Derived from milk.

  31. Pancreatin: From animal pancreas, in digestive aids.

  32. Animal Shortening: In baking.

  33. Elk Antler Velvet: In some supplements.

  34. Frog Legs & Snails: Used in certain cuisines.

  35. Animal-Derived Leucine: In nutrition products.

  36. Squalene/Squalane: Often from shark liver, in cosmetics.

Tips for Vegans

  • Read Labels Carefully: Ingredients can appear under different names.

  • Research Unknown Ingredients: Some may be animal-derived.

  • Look for Certifications: Vegan labels can guide you.

  • Contact Manufacturers: When in doubt, ask about ingredient sources.


For vegans, understanding the source of each ingredient is crucial. This list is a starting point, but always stay curious and do your research. Remember, being vegan isn't just about food choices; it's about making conscious decisions that align with your ethical beliefs.

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