20 foods that are surprisingly not vegan
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20 foods that are surprisingly not vegan

It’s easy to avoid the obvious sources of meat, dairy, and eggs when eating vegan, but sometimes these ingredients appear in surprising places. And then there are the sneakier animal byproducts like gelatin, lard, honey—and what the heck is tallow? For some tips on what to avoid, here are 20 foods that are surprisingly not vegan.

 
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Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce
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Look closely at the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. The standard, Lea & Perrins, contains malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, spice, and flavorings. Aside from the vagueness of the last two ingredients, the anchovies pose a problem for those on a vegan diet.

 
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Twinkies

Twinkies
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Here’s another one that’s not vegan, but not for the reasons you might think. There’s no actual cream in the cream filling of a Twinkie, nor do they contain gelatin. Instead, Twinkies contain whey, tallow, and hydrogenated tallow. You already know about whey, but tallow, also known as rendered beef fat, might not be recognizable to everyone as an animal byproduct.

 
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Protein powders

Protein powders
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Whey is a byproduct of cheese production, and it’s also the primary ingredient in many protein powders. Thankfully, there are numerous vegan protein powders available, including varieties made by Vega, Naked Pea, and KOS.

 
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Pre-made pie crust

Pre-made pie crust
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You may think you’re in the clear when it comes to pre-made pie crusts, like the rolled kind you might get at your local grocery store. And when we tell you they’re not vegan, you may think it’s because of eggs. Think again! These pre-made crusts actually contain lard, which is entirely composed of animal fat.

 
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Pop Tarts with frosting

Pop Tarts with frosting
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Frosting often contains gelatin, including the frosting that can be found on Pop Tart breakfast pastries. Some varieties also include milk, so be sure to check the ingredients list. To be safe, you can stick with the three vegan options: Unfrosted Strawberry, Unfrosted Blueberry, and Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon.

 
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Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts

Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts
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Most peanuts and other nuts are fine, but Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts use a small amount of gelatin to get the salt and spices to stick. That’s nuts!

 
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Pesto

Pesto
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If you’ve never made homemade pesto, you might not know that it includes parmesan cheese. Even jarred brands like Barilla and Classico contain parmesan cheese, so you’ll have to find a variety that doesn’t include cheese or milk in the ingredients list (or make a vegan-friendly version at home, like this simple recipe from Minimalist Baker).

 
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Miso soup

Miso soup
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The good news is that miso soup can easily be made for vegans, as the primary ingredient is miso paste, which is just soybeans, salt, and yeast. The bad news? Traditional miso soup, like the kind you’d get at a Japanese restaurant, contains dashi, which is a soup stock made from dried kelp and dried fish flakes—the latter of which is obviously not vegan.

 
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McDonald’s fries

McDonald’s fries
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If you think passing on the Big Mac and having fries instead is the vegan choice, think again. McDonald's fries contain beef flavoring, so they’re not vegan or vegetarian at all. However, if you get fries from McDonald’s locations in Canada or the U.K., they are vegan-friendly!

 
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Marshmallows (and fluff!)

Marshmallows (and fluff!)
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Marshmallows and marshmallow fluff are both not vegan, but not for the same reason! Marshmallows contain gelatin, which, as we already covered, is made from animal collagen. Fluff doesn’t contain gelatin, but it includes egg whites, so it’s still off-limits for vegans.

 
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Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats
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Even if you substitute vegan-friendly milk with your Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats, it’s still not vegan. This particular variety of shredded wheat—as well as the strawberry frosted and cinnamon roll flavors—contains gelatin derived from beef.

 
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Jell-O

Jell-O
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If you can’t tell by the name, Jell-O contains gelatin, meaning it is not a vegan food. On the other hand, most flavors of Jell-O instant pudding do not contain milk-based ingredients or any other animal byproducts and are okay for vegans.

 
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Honey

Honey
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Pro-animal organizations like PETA and the Vegan Society have a strict no-honey policy. The reason? Since honey is made by bees, it is technically an animal byproduct, and the harvesting of honey can potentially harm bees. Thankfully, there are numerous vegan honey varieties available.

 
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Gummy bears & worms

Gummy bears & worms
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Gelatin is often used to give gummy products their signature texture. That means most varieties of gummy bears and gummy worms are not vegan-friendly. This includes popular brands like Haribo and Trolli.

 
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Gum

Gum
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Gum is sometimes made with gelatin, but it depends on both the brand and flavor. While Eclipse, 5 Gum, Juicy Fruit, and Big League Chew are all vegan, some varieties of Trident, Orbit, Mentos, Ice Breakers, Stride, and Extra are not.

 
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Fresh pasta

Fresh pasta
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Here’s a puzzling situation: dried pasta is totally fine, but fresh pasta is often made with eggs, making it surprisingly not vegan. It’s not just eggs that you have to check the ingredient list for—lookout for cheese, too.

 
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Fake meat

Fake meat
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Just because meat substitutes are vegetarian, it doesn’t mean they are vegan. These fake meat products often contain eggs (and sometimes milk), including Quorn’s meatless cutlets, grounds, nuggets, patties, and pieces, as well as MorningStar Farms’ bacon strips, breakfast sausage, black bean burgers, and grillers.

 
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Doritos

Doritos
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You may think Doritos are just junk food with no real ingredients, but most flavors—including Nacho Cheese, Spicy Nacho, and Cool Ranch—may include milk, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, and/or whey. But if you see Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, grab them—those are vegan!

 
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Chocolate

Chocolate
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It doesn’t have to be labeled “milk chocolate” to contain milk. Dark chocolate is any chocolate with 50% or more cocoa, but you want to aim for more than 65% to reduce the likelihood of it containing milk. Even then, it’s best to check the ingredient list, which sometimes includes milk or milk fat. For instance, Lindt chocolates—even the 99% variety—may still include traces of milk.

 
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Altoids

Altoids
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Although you might associate it with gummy foods, gelatin (which comes from collagen—the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of animals) can also be found in a variety of other foods, including the Original Altoids. Opt for any of the sugar-free flavors, and you’re in the clear.

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