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16 Foods That Are Surprisingly Not Vegan
With reports placing the number of the population between 1-7% who choose to not eat animal products, veganism in the UK is on the rise.
Many people are eating less animal-derived foods, whether they’re looking out for the environment or are becoming flexitarians for their health, there are plenty of reasons to go vegan. If you’re just starting out, why don’t you take a look at our favourite five ingredient vegan recipes?
So whether you’re fully vegan or just beginning your journey of trying to reduce your animal intake, more people are plant-based than ever. To help you make up your own mind, we’ve compiled a list of foods that are surprisingly not vegan. Keep reading to find out more!
Even though it’s not an animal-based product, you’re right to wonder why honey is not vegan. Many vegans see no difference between bee farming and common animal farming, they don’t feel comfortable with people directly profiting from unethical honey harvesting.
Many commercial farms have been found to clip the wings of the queen bee so she can’t escape the nest, plus the farmers sometimes don’t leave any honey for the bees to use over the harsher winter months when they need it most.
Don’t worry though, there are many alternatives to honey that are just as delicious! Agave or maple syrup are a perfect alternative for drinks or cooking respectively, but be careful as these alternatives can be high in sugar content, so use them in moderation.
Wine and Beer
It’s true, some of our favourite tipples aren’t only made with grapes. Unless they state specifically on the label, it’s quite likely that your wine isn’t vegan-friendly. But why is wine not vegan? It’s all down to the way that winemakers use animal products as processing aids, which basically means they need them to get rid of sediment and tannins in wine barrels.
The most common way of doing this is through using egg whites, gelatin or even fish bladders to bind with the tannins, which then sink to the bottom of the barrel, meaning they can siphon off the wine from the top. Many wine bottles will tell you whether they are vegan thanks to the handy green BevVeg logo on them.
Some beers are also non-vegan, but most brewers don’t use animal-based products in their filtering process any more. Although it’s always good to check before you buy by heading to the Barnivore site to check out their database of vegan-friendly wines, beers and spirits.
That’s right! Some crisps aren’t vegan-friendly, but you’ll be surprised to find that many of the meat flavourings don’t come under that category. Although we’d recommend that you try and eat natural crisps that are made from root vegetables like parsnip, beetroot or carrot, it’s not always easy to find these specific brands.
If you are looking to buy the more common high-street brands, there’s a super-handy list of vegan crisps available here. It contains plenty of options which means you can still likely munch one of your favourite flavours!
Sauces and Condiments
A staple of delicious cheese on toast recipes, many Worcestershire sauces are made using fish sauce or anchovies. Although there are many brands out there who make vegan versions of Worcestershire sauce, why not find a recipe online to make your own?
Pad Thai sauce is made from a variety of different animal-based products, including fish and oyster sauce. Although it’s very easy to simply replace these sauces with soy sauce, as long as you’re using delicious tamarind to give this amazing dish its slightly sour flavour!
Not only are some pestos non-vegan, but unless they specify, it’s unlikely that they’re even vegetarian. This is down to the fact that most of the time a key ingredient in pesto is parmesan cheese, and part of its production involves rennet, which comes directly from animal stomach linings. Luckily many pesto companies will tell you whether their delicious jars are vegan-friendly though, so you don’t have to check the ingredients every time!
Dijon mustard is another condiment to be wary of, it’s the only yellow mustard that uses white wine where the filtering process of gelatin, egg whites and fish bladders are used.
Many fake meats still use eggs and milk as part of their production processes, making them unsuitable for consumption as vegans. Although there are many vegan alternatives that are easily available, it’s important to remember that many of these foods are made with highly saturated fats and sugar. Always eat them in moderation, and where possible try and eat more fruits, nuts or vegetables as they’re more natural, healthy and planet-friendly!
Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts
For similar reasonings to why honey isn’t classed as vegan, the argument for whether avocados are vegan comes from a similar place. Because of the high amount of bees that are involved in the growth of this fruit, some vegans choose not to eat them, alongside butternut squash, almonds, melons or kiwi.
This is down to the fact that many of them are grown in climates or areas of the world where bees wouldn’t naturally migrate to, our little insect friends then get transported to places like California in the US for the sole purpose of pollination.
That isn’t to say you should avoid eating these foods at all costs. Most vegan groups just ask that where possible you should aim to buy as many locally-sourced (and seasonal) foods from smaller farms that are less likely to have used commercial bees for food growth.
Because of the nature of their pollination, there is a question over whether figs are vegan. Many of them are only pollinated through using female wasps, which crawl into the fruit to lay their eggs. The fig then breaks down the wasp’s body to create protein which helps it grow. As surprising as this fact is, you should absolutely bear in mind that both the fig and wasp use this relationship for mutual benefit. Because it is completely natural for both of their lives, many vegans aren’t totally militant about whether they should eat this particular fruit!
Many omega-3 enriched foods are based on fish oil as this is one of the easiest ways to infuse this fatty acid. You can ensure that you’re eating vegan omega-3 by avoiding any food that mentions its ‘heart-healthy’ qualities, as this is generally a buzzword for fish minerals.
An alternative way to get omega-3 into your diet is through food supplements, flax seeds, chia seeds or walnuts. These can all be blended in with most meals or as a healthy and delicious snack!
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