Hidden Animal By-Products
Darn! I've Done it again, buying a product that I thought was vegan, only to get home and discover that there are hidden animal by-products in them. While I'm not trying to be a vegan perfectionist, I do wish products were more clearly labeled. Wholefoods advertise that they require precise labeling on their products. Hidden whey protein (milk), fish sauce and powdered egg whites seem to be my nemesis. It doesn't help that I occasionally leave my glasses in the car when I shop, but that's another story. It's commonly known that eggs and milk are often used to help coat or bind foods together, but I was surprised to learn about other animal by-products that are hiding in everyday foods. Here are just a few:
Gelatin Thanks to my 11-year old twins and their internet obsession, we are learned to keep an eye out for unexpected animal sources. One of those products is gelatin. My son insisted that the clear, giggly product used in some cranberry sauce, jello, gummy bears, children's vitamins, marshmallows and many many of our favorite sauces, may contain meat by-product and he was right. According to PETA, gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments and bones in water. It usually comes from cows, pigs and sometimes fish. If you use gel cap medications, chances are they might contain gelatin.
Think the process of making gelatin is something? How about sugar? According to Wholefoods, sugar is often filtered through charred animal bones! It's apparently part of the bleaching process. When my twins learned about this, they let out a big "yuck" in unison. Luckily, there are several unbleached sugars and sweet substitutes on the market.
Wholefoods also reminds us that many homemade and restaurant soups start with chicken stock or broth. Even miso soup, which is often made with dashi broth, may contain fish flakes. I use a product called No Chicken stock. It is the same color and has a similar flavor to the real thing. You can find it at Wholefood and Harris Teeter, among other grocery stores.
Veggie Cakes or Patties (not all, but some) I was excited to find a dark green spinach cake in the freezer section and grabbed a package on the way to the cashier. But, I apparently failed to read it correctly because although the spinach cake was not breaded and was displayed next to the vegan alternatives, it contains powdered egg whites. The same thing happened with a "meatless" chicken patty that tasted too good to be true. My kids pointed out that down the corner, in the small print it said the light coat of breading contained powdered eggs. Ugh... Another favorite bites the dust.
Honey Then, there is honey and the big debate over whether vegans and vegetarians should be consuming it and if the bees are starved or otherwise harmed in the process of harvesting the decadent liquid gold. Stay tuned to my next blog, as we unpack that sticky situation.