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The Harsh Truth: Food You Think is Vegetarian But Actually Isn't

Food You Think Is Vegetarian But Isn't
Are you wondering if the vegetarian food in your diet is really vegetarian? Well, wonder no more, as this Tastessence post reveals the truth about the food you think is vegetarian but isn't.
Snehal Motkar
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Shellac Shine
Jelly beans, a treat for your taste buds, are coated with shellac (a sticky substance extracted from the secretions of the Kerria lacca - a female insect native to Thailand), for that shiny look.
For those following a strict vegetarian diet, it can be quite confusing to determine which items are actually vegetarian, and which are not. There are certain food items that are labeled vegetarian, but in reality, contain hidden animal products. The best option is to follow a vegan diet, where you not only avoid consuming meat, fish, and poultry, but also the byproducts of animal sources. For instance, in a vegan diet, you will have to avoid even milk, butter, and cheese, in addition to other non-vegetarian food.

However, if you do not want to go to extremes, but still want to be on a vegetarian diet, then you will have to know which foods are considered vegetarian, but are not. In this article, we give you a list of such food items, to ensure that your vegetarian diet is not at risk.
Food That Contains Animal Products
Red Candies
You might be wondering what makes candies non-vegetarian. Well, there are many additives used in the making of candies and jelly beans that makes these food items non-vegetarian. Red candies are dyed in carmine, a coloring agent that is made from crushed beetles. Several other dyes are mixed with carmine to obtain the different colors you see on candies. Other suspects that make your candies non-vegetarian include gelatin, shellac, beeswax, glycerin, and honey.
Although cheese is considered to be vegetarian, in most cases, it is not. The process of cheese-making involves the coagulation of milk to produce curd and whey, with the curd then being separated from the whey to make various types of cheese. To obtain the right consistency of the curd and whey, rennet - which is extracted from a newly-born calf's abomasum (the fourth compartment of the stomach) - is added to the milk during the coagulating process.
Parmesan cheese always contains rennet in its ingredients, and hence, cannot be termed vegetarian. On the other hand, there are certain types of cheese which use rennet obtained from fungal/bacterial sources of genetically modified organisms, and hence, can be considered vegetarian.
Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce
It may come as a surprise to many of you that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, and you consume this sauce without checking the label, your feelings may get hurt because the sauce is often filled with anchovies, which gradually dissolve in the sauce as it ferments. Eventually, the meat of the fish comes off the bones and mixes with the sauce. Interestingly, the bones also dissolve during the long process of fermentation, before the sauce reaches the market.
A favorite food item for many, even marshmallows aren't spared from animal products. There is a considerable amount of gelatin that goes into the making of marshmallows. Gelatin is a substance extracted by boiling the bones and connective tissues of animals. There are two types of gelatin: kosher gelatin and non-kosher gelatin. While kosher gelatin comes from fish bones, non-kosher gelatin comes from pig or cow bones.
Food Ingredients Containing Animal Products
White Refined Sugar
Some vegetarians avoid consuming white refined sugar because there is a possibility of bone char being used during its processing. Bone char performs the important function of whitening the sugar. Only cow's bones are used to make bone char, and according to the sugar association and many producers, cows whose bones are utilized for the process have died naturally. An activated carbon filter made of bone char is used by some major sugar companies for decolorizing the sugar and making it white through the process of absorption.
Cake Mixes
Beef fat may be used in cake mixes to make them tastier and last longer. When baking a cake at home, butter is usually added to give the mix the right consistency, and to get a perfectly baked cake. However, food companies cannot afford to add butter to the cake mix as it tends to rot very easily.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
For vegetarians, omega-3 fatty acids are sourced from plants. However, many times when you consume omega-3 enriched drinks and food, these fatty acids are obtained from fish instead of plants. Food items, like margarine, olive oil, and bread contain omega-3 fatty acids that are obtained from fish varieties, like tilapias, anchovies, and sardines.
Other Foods and Beverages that Aren't Vegetarian
In addition to the foods mentioned above, there are a few more that cannot be listed as strictly vegetarian. These include:
Wine and Beer
Wine and Beer
Tomato soup
Ice creams
Ice creams
While many consider the above foods vegetarian, if you are following a vegan diet, then these items are a strict no-no. To ensure that you are sticking to a vegetarian diet, it is important to always check the label of every food item you buy before you consume it. Don't be taken in by what everyone says is veg food; make sure you check it yourself.