Don’t get caught up on these ingredients if you are new to veganism. The key is learning as you go, no one is perfect. The reason people go vegan is to decrease the demand of animal products which will, in turn, decrease the supply. Doing your best is what matters!

Animal Ingredients with Fancy Names

These ingredients found in many common foods, candies and household products may not seem animal derived until you take a closer look…

  • Albumen – egg white
    Used in protein powders, candies, the clarification/stabilization of some wines
  • Carmine / cochineal – ground-up beetles
    Used as red dye in foods and cosmetics
  • Casein – milk protein
    Used in drinks, some nondairy products
  • Collagen / keratin – rendered slaughterhouse proteins
    Used in cosmetics
  • Confectioner’s glaze / resinous glaze / shellac – hardened material secreted by the lac insect
    Used in chewing gum, candies, fruit, coffee beans, personal care products, household products
  • Gelatin – skins and bones
    Used in Jell-O, marshmallows, pet foods, candies, vitamin coatings, alcohol
  • Glycerin – can be derived from fat in animal bones
    Used in marshmallows, candies, baked goods, toothpaste, soap
  • L-cysteine / L-cystine – duck feathers or human hair
  • Used in baked goods, flavors, food supplements
  • Lactic acid – produced by the fermentation of lactose
  • Used in beer, sauerkraut, other fermented food/drinks, pharmaceuticals
  • Lactose – sugar extracted from cow milk
    Used in baked goods, other foods/drinks, cosmetics, medicines
  • Lard / tallow / stearic acid (stearate) – animal fat
    Used in baked goods, margarine, cosmetics
  • Sodium stearoyl lactylate – mineral derived from an animal or milk
  • Used in baked goods, sour cream, soups, crackers, cookies, salad dressings
  • Taurine – amino acid derived from meat and fish
    Used in energy drinks, dietary supplements
  • Whey – milk-based byproduct of cheese production
    Used in baked goods, ice cream, dry mixes

Foods that should be vegan but aren’t

Even though these foods seem like they wouldn’t have any animal ingredients in them, it’s always good to check!

  • Pasta (sometimes contains egg)
  • Bread, rolls, bagels, cornbread, pizza crust, naan, and related bread items (dairy, egg)
  • Chips (can contain lard, honey, milk ingredients) Example: Grandma Utz – uses lard
  • Nuts (sometimes coated in gelatin) Example: Planters peanuts
  • Worcestershire sauce (anchovies)
  • Miso soup (anchovies)
  • White Sugar (bone char)
  • Alcohol (isinglass [filtration process], gelatin, egg whites, honey, dairy)
  • Allergy labeled foods (might NOT be dairy or egg free even if the packaging states it is)
  • Dairy-free creamer, some dairy-free cheeses (often contains dairy ingredients)
  • Gummies (usually contain gelatin which is not even vegetarian)
  • Pureed herbs in tubes (contain dairy ingredients)
  • Foods with Vitamin D (can be animal-derived) – Usually listed as D3 or cholecalciferol. Example: Orange juice, cereal, supplements
  •    -D2 is plant-based and D3 is almost always animal-based (unless it specifically states plant-based or vegan). Many times, the ingredients do not specify which form is used, and further research is needed (look online or contact the manufacturer for clarification).

Animal Ingredients in Cleaning Products

  • Lard / tallow / stearic acid (stearate) – animal fat
  • Resinous glaze / shellac – hardened material secreted by the lac insect

Animal Ingredients in Cosmetics and Hygiene Products

  • Carmine / cochineal – ground-up beetles
  • Collagen / keratin – rendered slaughterhouse proteins
  • Estrogen – extracted from pregnant horses’ urine
  • Glycerin – can be derived from fat in animal bones
  • Lactose – sugar extracted from cow milk
  • Lanolin – oil extracted from sheep wool
  • Lard / tallow / stearic acid (stearate) – animal fat
  • Resinous glaze / shellac – hardened material secreted by the lac insect
  • Retinol – found in meat, fish, and dairy

For more complete lists, please visit Vegan Wolf’s Ingredient Page or Vegetarian Journal’s Guide to Food Ingredients.

View more in depth information about common foods which are not vegan here.