8 Foods You Thought Were Vegan, But Probably Aren't

8 Jan 2021

@abillion profile image

woman at a café enjoying her meal

Veganism's multi-faceted, and sometimes the things you'd think are obviously vegan end up having animal-derived ingredients in them. So, here are some foods that you'd think are vegan, but probably aren't.

1. Wine

From celebrating our wins to getting over our losses, wines are our companions. However, they're often not vegan (or even vegetarian, for that matter). All young wines are “hazy” and contain tiny particles. While these particles don’t spoil the taste, they definitely hamper the texture. As wines age, these particles dissolve, and we get the smooth texture that wine connoisseurs appreciate. However, like all good things in life, getting this smooth and rich texture takes time. To speed up the process, many wineries “fine” these wines by adding ingredients that speed up the process. Depending on the type of wine, most fining agents are either casein (dairy), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein), or isinglass (fish bladder protein). This, unfortunately, makes most wines not suitable for vegans.

However, some fantastic wines are vegan. Here’s @vegananu’s collection of her favorite vegan wines.

couple drinking wines in a vineyard

2. Marshmallows

Hot chocolate dunked in marshmallows is akin to a magic portal that transport us to our childhoods. Unfortunately, the traditional marshmallow recipe call for gelatin, which is an animal-derived ingredient. Thankfully many major brands now have vegan marshmallows like Marks & Spencer Food's Vegan Marshmallows and Dandies All Natural Vanilla Marshmallows. So, now we can enjoy a steaming hot cuppa that warms both our souls and our conscience.

hot chocolate with marshmallows

3. Dairy substitutes

Since dairy substitutes are literally substitutes of dairy, you'd think they'll be vegan. But, that's not the case. When shopping for dairy substitutes, you’ll come across 3 types of labels. We covered this briefly in our healthy guide to dairy alternatives.

If you see non-dairy or lactose-free labels, you need to read the ingredients to ensure they don't contain non-vegan ingredients like casein and whey. The dairy-free label is most likely to be vegan. Here's a handy infographic from The Spruce to help you understand the difference between the labels.

dairy-free vs lactose-free vs non-dairy

4. Orange juice

When you make yourself a freshly squeezed OJ at home, that’s vegan. But, if you're going to pick a packaged version from the store, it may contain more than just oranges. When shopping for orange juice, look out for 2 things: “omega 3” and “vitamin D.” Omega-3s are usually derived from fish and vitamin D comes from lanolin that's derived from sheep’s wool. You can read more about such non-vegan ingredients to avoid here.

orange juice

5. Meat alternatives

While craving a burger when avoiding meat would mean reaching for meat substitutes, be aware that they may not be vegan. When buying meat alternatives, remember that not all vegetarian meats are vegan. Some of them may contain eggs or dairy (or whey), making them vegetarian friendly, but not vegan. So, next time you're out to buy vegan patties for your burger nights, be sure to check if the brand you're considering has been reviewed on abillion 'coz if it's on abillion, it's bound to be vegan!

vegan "meat" burger

6. White sugar

Processed white sugar gets its color when raw sugar's polished. This polishing is often done on bone char. As the name suggests, bone char is a black, porous material that's obtained by charring animal bones. If this wasn’t enough, even brown sugar, powdered sugar, or raw sugar contain some amount of white sugar in it. So, what to do? Look for vegan certified sugar…or opt for these natural sugar substitutes.

processed sugar

7. Breakfast Cereals

Cereals are usually our go-to breakfast option. Most breakfast cereals contain one of these things: honey, vitamin D, or lanolin. Even cereals not marketed as “sweet” like Kellogg's cornflakes aren’t vegan, but if we keep a careful eye on the ingredients, we can enjoy a range of vegan-friendly cereals!

breakfast cereals

8. French fries

Making french fries at home is easy, and is vegan. But, if you're thinking of ordering some fries when you accompany your non-vegan buddies when they visit their favorite fast food chain, be aware that major fast-food restaurants often fry their fries in animal fat, making them non-vegan. Best to check before ordering!

french fries

Have you ever bought anything that you thought was vegan, but later discovered that it wasn't the case? Tell us all about it in the comments, you may save someone from making the same error!

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@angelame profile image
angelame1 YEAR AGO
super helpful thank you!
@bandhan profile image
bandhan1 YEAR AGO
@lou profile image
oooh i didn't know about the orange juice one!! :o
@riven profile image
riven1 YEAR AGO
Wow! I am really grateful for this information 😃
@veggiexplorer profile image
veggiexplorer1 YEAR AGO
Pt number 6 is shocking #neverknow
@veggiexplorer profile image
veggiexplorer1 YEAR AGO
Good article
@rickaelo profile image
rickaelo1 YEAR AGO
Tamales in Mexico most of the time aren't vegan. You have to make sure if they weren't cook with animal fat. 😉
@rickaelo profile image
rickaelo1 YEAR AGO
Thanks for the information!
@miriamy profile image
miriamy1 YEAR AGO
Really helpful thank you!
@infinitelove profile image
infinitelove1 YEAR AGO
I am soooo happy to be a foodie and know all these things :) just recently vegan but yes- definitely extra caution is what I take when checking 'lactose-free' and so on terms :) this is helpful to be written in one place :) brilliant!
@bianca1701 profile image
bianca17011 YEAR AGO
Wow, really interesting. Had no idea about the sugar 🤭.
@veganshadow profile image
veganshadow1 YEAR AGO
I bought Kellogg's Choco-Fills in Bengaluru, India, but it turned out to be non vegan because it had milk-solids in it.
@earthlovingerin profile image
earthlovingerin1 YEAR AGO
Wow. I'm glad this article was written. Had no idea about white sugar and orange juice. Thank you ✨
@toninavega profile image
toninavega1 YEAR AGO
Oh wow. I eat Special K sparingly and never realised they were not vegan. 😣 stopping right now!! Thank you. 🌿💚
@mermaidgirl profile image
mermaidgirl1 YEAR AGO
I did not know the orange juice one!! Yikes!
@lojo profile image
lojo1 YEAR AGO
I got caught out with Morningstar burgers, and Tom Yum paste in the early days. Wine and beer can be tricky too. Cosmetics sometimes contain beeswax....and the labels are teeny-tiny and hard to read!
@vejazzy profile image
vejazzy1 YEAR AGO
Good list to have, thanks!
@shalini97 profile image
shalini971 YEAR AGO
😫😫 thanks for this!
@abillionvegpassword profile image
I did not know about the vitamin and the sugar, thank you so much! So wait, is all vitamin did aka lanolin? Even the vitamin D from multivitamins or bought vitamin D?
@abillion profile image
abillion1 YEAR AGO
Hi! We're glad you found this useful. Vitamin D2 is vegan, but Vitamin D3 usually comes from Lanolin. Lanolin is sometimes considered vegetarian as well as cruelty-free. But, many companies have come up with synthetic (and plant-based) lanolin, so your vegan-friendly multivitamins may contain that, or it may be derived from "lichen" which is vegan-friendly by default.