Vegan 101-Wait… THAT’S NOT VEGAN

I am still kinda new to the vegan lifestyle, so I am still learning about food items that are not vegan. It seems obvious, right? After all, eating vegan means not eating meat, not eating dairy and not eating anything that comes from animals. But there are several food items with hidden animal products that you may want to have on your radar if you want to eat pure vegan.

So here is a list. Let me know if I left anything out or if you have any thoughts on what is included here.

Worcestershire Sauce-This may come as a surprise to many, but Worcestershire sauce is traditionally made with the anchovy. I had no idea about this until I became vegan. But good news, there is vegan Worcestershire sauce available. I found some at Whole Foods and it is delish. You won’t know the difference when making your recipes.

Salad Dressings-This one can catch you off guard because we may not put a lot of thought into what’s in those dressings and sauces. But chances are if it is creamy, then there is some dairy in there, which can also pack in a lot of calories. Your best bet when you are out, is to go with a vinaigrette (still check the ingredients, or just use oil and vinegar or fresh lemon. At home, if you want something creamy, just add vegan yogurt, avocado or mayo.

Pesto-Traditionally pesto sauce is made with parmesan cheese. But, there are several vegan versions on the market deliciously made with ingredients like basil and pine nuts, that will make you forget all about that cheese.

Candy-Gummies, jelly beans, licorice and like candy are usually made with gelatin which is made from boiled animal bones. The good news is that some candy companies are now making vegan versions of these types of treats. Chocolate bars usually have dairy in them, so be sure to read the label.

Wine-What is not vegan about wine?? I get this question all the time. Many wine and liquor companies use ingredients such as honey, egg whites, casein (milk), Lactose, pepsin (pigs), and gelatin. The tough part is that many restaurant staff and wine store clerks may not know. But there are a few great websites, like, that will let you know if your libations are vegan or not.

Vitamins-Fish oil goes with out saying. But many supplements such as collagen are made with animal products.. Be sure to check ingredients on labels before you buy. And look out for vegan vitamins and supplements. I featured Movita vitamins, which are vegan, in a recent post. And for collagen, I take My Kind supplements.

Pretzels-Usually pretzels are vegan, but some may add butter for extra flavor. Be sure to ask when you order out and check labels at the grocery store.

Pasta-This is mostly an issue when eating out. Most grocery store or boxes pastas are not made with eggs (be sure to read the label). On the other hand, most restaurant pastas are made with eggs. Be sure to triple check with your waiter and, just in case, have the waiter ask the chef. I usually just say I am allergic, which takes care of any restaurant staff who may not respect vegans or really don’t get what eating vegan means. Trust me it happens often.

Soups-People often use chicken stock or broth as a base for soups. This happens often at restaurants, particularly Asian restaurants. I used to order a veggie stir fry from a restaurant up the street from me. But after about 2 orders, I decided to have a conversation with the woman taking the order and found out that they indeed were using chicken broth in the majority of their dishes. I still order from them, but I get everything steamed with a little soy sauce. Not sure why people don’t just use vegetable stock or broth when they cook food without meat. It is just a flavorful and that way everyone can enjoy the food.

Vegetables-Please don’t think you can just roll up into a soul food restaurant and order sides and be good. Many restaurants use butter, bacon grease, and animal meat or fat to cook their vegetables. Don’t get me started on how unessessary this is. But it happens, so be sure to ask and make sure you ask someone who actually knows.

French Fries-You may remember years ago McDonalds was the center of controversy when it was reveled that they cooked their famous fries in beef fat. They have since stopped that practice. But many restaurants still cook their fries in animal fats. A very popular method is duck fat. Many restaurant also add parmesan to their fries. So be sure to ask before you order.

Bread-Unfortunatly, eggs, butter and/or milk are used to make bread. While these ingredients are not necessary to make flavorful breads, they are common. Be sure to ask your waiter if you are out about bread ingredients. Also check ingredients when you purchase at the grocery store. And when you are at home, take advantage of the many vegan bread recipes on line and in cookbooks. I will be posting buy vegan corn muffins soon!

Again, these ingredients may not seem like a big deal, but if you are eating vegan for ethical or medical reasons, it matters a great deal. So, hopefully this helps. Let me know your thoughts on this list or if I left anything off.

Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

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