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Ten Weird Things That Are Not Vegetarian

I spent 3 years as a vegetarian, and at the time it seemed simple. Eat things that aren’t animals. I didn’t think much more about it. It wasn’t until years later, while trying to cook for my vegetable loving friends that I have actually become acquainted with how many products that I assumed were animal free are not.

While I now eat meat I also want to know what is in the food that I eat and which products, vegetarian or not, are just too creepy to eat.

Ten Weird Things that Are Not Vegetarian

Ten weird things that are not vegetarian

Beer. Although the basic ingredients in beer are all vegan, a lot of times animal products are added in. Most commonly fish bladders. Read this to figure out if there is a beast in your beer.

Jell-O. Or any gelatin product. It’s made from animal bones and makes it’s way into everything from cookies to pre-packaged peanuts, Altoid mints, Gummy bears, to marshmallows.

Worcestershire sauce. It has anchovies in it. It makes a fantastic addition to barbeque sauces so if you want to skip the fish, buy a vegan type like the one from Annie’s Organic.

White sugar. While sugar is inherently vegan, it is often processed using animal bones that leave little bit of animals in your bag of sugar. Many companies are starting to change that, like Whole Foods 365 brand, which is 100% vegan.

Boxed cake mix. It’s often made using beef or pork fat, listed on the label as lard. Make sure to check the ingredients, or better yet make it from scratch.

Bean Burritos. Unless labeled otherwise, both refried beans and tortillas will almost always be made with lard. Even those “veggie burritos” in most Mexican restaurants. Unless it’s labeled as vegetarian (and even sometimes then), assume that it’s full of animal fat.

Omega-3 labeled products. Orange juice, milk and other foods are often infused with fish oils to get those sought after healthy fats. Some vegetarian friendly companies use flaxseed instead, but it’s worth checking the label, just to make sure.

Prepackaged Bread. If the package of bread you grab at your local market contain an ingredient called L-Cysteine, the best-case scenario is that it’s derived from poultry feathers. The worst case? Human hair. That’s right, you may be chowing down on a human if you buy pre-made bread. Feel free to gag. I will now be making sandwich bread from scratch.

Hard cheese. Cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan are often made using rennet, which is the lining of animals intestines. Most soft cheeses, like Brie, goat cheese and mozzarella aren’t. Some companies do make hard cheese without animal byproducts, they should label those as vegetarian friendly.

Raspberry flavored food. If human hair wasn’t bad enough, now I have to tell you about what’s in most raspberry flavored foods. Castoreum, a common ingredient in artificially flavored raspberry foods is made from the secretions of a beavers anal glands. Which begs the question: Why is a beavers ass easier to come by than good ole’ fashion raspberries?

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Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious December 26, 2013 um 1:12 am

What a crazy post! White sugar? Who would’ve thought?!


Averie @ Averie Cooks December 26, 2013 um 7:12 am

Thanks for linking up my site 🙂 I knew most of this stuff but not #10/raspberries. Whoa. That makes me never want to eat raspberry-flavored anything! It’s not even the animal product issue or some ethics thing; it’s the secretions issue. Eeew. Lovely 🙂


Samantha December 26, 2013 um 4:24 pm

Also, anything that uses red food coloring, specifically carmine, cochineal extract or natural red 4. The pigment is usually derived from beetle wings. Not that the artificial red colorings of red no. 2 or red no. 40 are any better .


Tieghan December 26, 2013 um 7:43 pm

I used to be into nutrition and was thinking of being a nutritionist for a while, so I love this post! I knew about most of the products, but white sugar and cheese! So crazy! And the raspberries stuff! Whoa!


RavieNomNoms December 30, 2013 um 10:44 am

Well that is completely disturbing!!


Maggie December 30, 2013 um 10:46 am

Beaver’s anal glands, really? Why? Why must they ruin our food? Thanks for the info…I think.


cfhg November 30, 2016 um 6:11 pm

Its more commonly used in vanilla icecream, but I suspect they didn’t focus on that as its known by many meateaters from being discussed in many of the Mountain Men/Yukon Men-type tv shows.


addie | culicurious December 31, 2013 um 7:39 am

human hair? beaver anus? OY! 🙁 There’s so much to be concerned with. Thanks for shedding light on these, Jackie!


Ten Weird Things That Are Not Vegetarian | Vegan Aura January 3, 2014 um 9:13 am

[…] source : […]


Brad January 5, 2014 um 7:45 am

Cheese generally remains vegetarian whether it is a hard cheese or not. Rennet is most plentiful in cows stomachs but it has been synthesized by bacteria for decades. Genetically modified bacteria manufacture the protein and are then washed out of the mixture. It’s interesting from a GMO standpoint because the genetically modified organism is no longer present, only what it produced, so rennet is technically non-GMO.


foodtech snob January 6, 2014 um 12:23 pm

These articles drive me crazy! All foods potentially contain "animal" byproducts. The more organic a food is, the less it is processed. Therefore has a higher probability of containing insect parts, human or rodent hair etc. If Worcestershire sauce has never claimed to be vegan…anchovies are in the ingredient statement. Breads and pastas ARE vegan despite what this article would like you to believe. If you want to know the truth, ask a food technologist… not a vegan with no food processing experience.


Jackie January 7, 2014 um 10:31 am

1. I am not vegetarian or vegan, very much a meat eater and I DO have experience with food processing.
2. I never said that any of these things claimed to be vegetarian, but that people ASSUMED them to be so, no blame was placed on the company.
3. Adding a chemical to bread that is INTENTIONALLY MADE WITH HUMAN HAIR OR POULTRY FEATHERS is not the same thing as expected contamination. Not in the least.
4. and PASTSA IS FREQUENTLY MADE WITH EGGS, which makes it very much not vegan.
5. Read an entire article before you comment on it.


AmandaWB January 7, 2014 um 7:00 am

I want to know who was the sicko who decided to be the first to try a beaver’s anal glands and decided it was better than real berries?!


Aaa January 8, 2014 um 6:52 am

Actually the castoreum is NOT from "anal glands", it comes from castor sacs near the anus on beavers; but yes, still gross. And it’s often found in vanilla flavoring.


Naiari January 9, 2014 um 3:08 am

Ummm I need to know why someone had the need to know the flavor of a beaver’s sac or anus. What the hell were they trying to research in the first place?


Sara January 10, 2014 um 5:59 am

This is an odd mix, and the claims of "ooh evil meat in processed foods" are a bit weird, given that Worcestershire sauce is very old and is a logical descendant of the Roman sauce they called "garum" which was made from fermented fish. The "Jell" in "Jell-o" comes from GELatin, which was made by rendering bones or hooves – look in old Victorian cookbooks for "Calfs-foot Jelly" recipes to make your own. Cheese has been made with rennet for thousands of years. Beans have been traditionally refried with lard, and cakes made with lard or tallow (the actual name for beef fat).

None of those are new things, the ones above are uses of animal products that long predate processed food and shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.


The List List #51 – January 10, 2014 um 6:40 am

[…] at Domestic Fits, 10 Weird Things That Are Not Vegetarian […]


Lauren January 10, 2014 um 6:53 am

The major boxes cakes like Betty Crocker do not contain lard. Any boxed cake with a kosher certification 100% does not contain lard plus I don’t think the FDA allows it anyway (although I could be wrong about the FDA part and it may be a state by state decision).


fconn January 10, 2014 um 7:41 am

How is it weird that gelatin is not vegetarian??


Rolls January 10, 2014 um 5:06 pm

This article makes me believe the writer does not know the difference between vegetarian and vegan. The title is "vegetarian" but the items you are describing focus on vegan issues. Yes, this information is horrendous, but there’s a BIG difference between the 2 two lifestyles.


Jackie January 12, 2014 um 2:27 pm

I’m not sure why my use of the word vegan leads you to believe that I don’t know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. I’m a food writer, I’m very familiar with the difference. If it’s less confusing for you, however, feel free to replace the word "vegan" with phrase "not just vegetarian, but also vegan" when reading this article.


Johnny applesead January 16, 2014 um 1:28 pm

Next your going to tell me McDonalds is bad for you


Amanda March 3, 2014 um 9:47 pm

Jackie, I love your responses to those comments:)


veganeats March 13, 2014 um 11:14 pm

The food items you mentioned ARE in fact VEGETARIAN but are NOT VEGAN


Jackie March 14, 2014 um 2:23 pm

Really? Foods that contain animal fat, animal bones, fish, and beaver anal glads are vegetarian? You and I have very different understanding on what constitutes "vegetarian" friendly foods.


karen f November 4, 2014 um 12:05 pm

"(The location of the beaver’s castor sacs means that castoreum also often includes a mixture of anal gland secretions and urine as well.)
Read more at"


Ella Caton February 6, 2019 um 9:56 pm

I’m a vegetarian and now I’m not letting my dad or Mother make my food… that’s disgusting.. I’m pretty sure if you tell a carnivore any of this it could make them vegan or vegetarian.


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