8 vegetarian foods that aren’t actually vegetarian

Last October, I decided to be a vegetarian. My reasons for doing so are different from most vegetarians in that I chose it because of my opposition to killing animals.
Over the last 7 months, something I’ve learned is that foods traditionally thought of to be vegetarian friendly, aren’t actually. Especially for someone like me, who avoids foods requiring the killing of animals.
In case, there’s anyone out there like me, I decided to put together a list of vegetarian foods that aren’t actually vegetarian. Let me know in the comments if you know of any others.

1. White sugar

The production process for white sugar often requires filtration through pure carbon to whiten the sugar. This carbon is typically a result of charring cow bones. Luckily, at least in Canada, Rogers/Lantic offers sugar that is bone char free:

Bone char is not used at Taber’s sugar beet factory or at Montreal’s cane refinery. Bone char is only used at the Vancouver cane refinery. All products under the Lantic trademark are free of bone char. For the products under the Rogers trademark, all Taber sugar beet products are also free of bone char. In order to differentiate the Rogers Taber beet products from the Vancouver cane products, you can verify the inked-jet code printed on the product. Products with the code starting with the number “22” are from Taber, Alberta, while products with the code starting with the number “10” are from Vancouver, British Columbia.

2. Refried beans

While beans themselves are a popular vegetarian food rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins, commercial refried beans are often made using lard, which is made from pig fat.

3. Bananas

Commercially-produced bananas are often sprayed with chitosan, a pesticide derived from crustacean shells.

4. Caesar salad

While most vegetarians recognize that the bacon in Caesar salad isn’t vegetarian, many are surprised to find out the dressing isn’t either. Caesar dressing traditionally contains anchovy paste.

5. Bagels

Commercial bagels are often manufactured with L-cytesine, an amino acid produced from pig hair or bird feathers. Actually, most L-cytesine is produced using human hair because it’s a more efficient raw product.
This one is a tricky one because, technically, you don’t need to kill pigs or birds to use their hair or feathers, but it would be convenient to use it from dead animals rather than throwing them away. And, again, L-cytesine is most often produced using human hair.
Use your judgement on this one.

6. Candy

Or more specifically, soft candy made with gelatin, which is derived from animal by-products. Same goes for marshmallows.
Also, some red candies (specifically any with ingredients listed as carmine, cochineal extract, or natural red 4) use food colouring derived from insects.
Finally, candy made with confectioner’s glaze is often insect derived. While the shellac used in making confectioner’s glaze doesn’t technically require the death of the Kerria lacca, it’s practically impossible to avoid in commercial production.

7. Worcestershire sauce

This is made using anchovies.

8. Vegetable soup

Commercial canned vegetable soup is often made with animal-based broths.
Any other foods you can think of? Let me know in the comments below.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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