Look, Ma! Not Vegetarian

March 2, 2009 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

As a vegetarian walks through their grocery store they may be surprised to find that some of the foods they enjoy are not actually Vegetarian. I know I was surprised to realize that some of these foods aren’t Veggie.

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Jell-O and Marshmallows
– Both of these include something that we all are familiar with: Gelatin. Most of us learned in our childhoods that gelatin comes from the hooves of horses and the bones of animals. When I found out at the ripe old age of 9, I was supremely grossed out. EWwww! Horse hooves?! It roughly translated to me as though I was eating the fingernails of horses. Gelatin is a useful agent for setting up many puddings and deserts to create a custard-like texture. Now, gelatin in Jell-o is pretty obvious, but what I didn’t realize until recently was that Marshmallows had gelatin. I died a little bit inside when I found out, but luckily there are some alternatives! For most every part of a vegetarian diet, there are alternatives to foods that we choose not to eat.

Sugar
– Okay, okay… I know what you’re thinking. This can’t be true. Well you’re right. Sugar itself is not a violation of Vegetarian guidelines. I did learn, however that some sugars are whitened using the charcoal from animal bones. This stuff is added to the sugar to reduce the color in sugar. Turns out, white sugar is more well-liked than raw tan-colored sugar. Your alternative – Use sugar in the raw or the store brand raw sugar or Domino sugar. This stuff isn’t whitened…

Caesar Dressing/Worcestershire/Sweet & Sour sauce
-These three products contain Sardines to make them more salty. If you’re like me and you don’t eat ANY animals, then you’ll have to watch out for these. You can easily find alternatives to the Caesar problem… Worcestershire and S&S sauce are a different story.

Twinkies
-It’s not like anyone eats these anymore anyway.  Turns out, some Twinkies and Hostess snack cakes actually use Beef Fat. It depends on what kind of fat is cheapest at that time of the year. If it’s beef fat, you’ve got a non-vegetarian goodie that you can bury for 20 years and eat when there’s nothing else left. If you’re craving some cheap sweets, remember to read the ingredient list first. I know, it’s a novel on the back of most of those items, which is a good sign that you shouldn’t be eating it anyway, but if you’re really craving a Ho-ho, you should read the ingredients first and make sure that there’s nothing about beef fat/suet/tallow.

Refried Beans
-Traditional refried beans include Lard. Yup, lard. Luckily, most companies offer a vegetarian version of their beans. Good thing for us. Personally, I love tostadas and would be devastated to hear that I couldn’t eat them anymore…

Yogurt/Sour Cream
-If you’re vegan, you don’t eat these anyway, or you eat some type of soy substitute… If you’re not vegan, you should beware that some low-fat versions of these foods contain gelatin. Remember gelatin from earlier?

Medications
– Anything labeled as a “Gel-cap” has gelatin in it. Gosh darn this gelatin…

Soaps
-Most soaps are made using some type of fatty substance. Don’t buy it if it contains animal fat or Sodium Tallowate

I sure hope that I didn’t just ruin your shopping experience. Rest assured, there are plenty of things out there that are PERFECTLY cruelty-free and Vegetarian/Vegan friendly. Most of the time, the inclusion of animal products in your items is a matter of making those items cheaper for the company. Now that you know some of the more difficult things to recognize, you can watch out for those hidden treats in your foods!

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Entry filed under: Random, vegetarian. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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