For many of us vegans, it’s so much more than healthy eating; it’s a way of living. In general, veganism involves abstaining from the use of animal products from all aspects of life. This includes food, clothing, and other man-made products, besides refraining from other activities which exploit animals.
If you’ve been eating vegan for a while, then you may have already honed in on what to eat and what not to. Meaning it’s pretty easy to distinguish whether a product is derived from animals or not, right?
Not always, in which case we hope this post will give you an idea about a few products which are commonly mistaken as vegan, except a fruit we have listed here that seems to be on the opposite end!
There are many food products on the shelf, suitable for vegans. While most of these are made to appear pretty obvious that they are free from animal products, others aren’t so clear.
The following are some of the foods that can commonly be mistaken as vegan. These are foods that a lot of people may think vegan, but in actual fact are not, though a few can be arguable.
1 – Bagels
Are bagels vegan? It’s hard to believe a bagel which is anything other than a plain and simple staple food is not suitable for vegans. But, a lot of these baked goods contain the ingredient L-cysteine. This is an amino acid that helps improve the texture of the bread and aids in the baking process.
While this amino acid may work well in what it does, it’s a product that’s derived from poultry feathers and hog hair. A lot of companies have now switched to using synthetic L-cysteine. But, not all have, so just be careful.
2 – Apple Juice
This one is a little hard to digest (pardon the pun). Apples are a naturally grown fruit, which is obviously vegan. So, it’s not odd to assume that apple juice would be vegan. But, it’s not the actual nectar which is the issue; it’s what added to it during the manufacturing process.
Not all apple juices are non-vegan. But quite often they will include isinglass or a similar clarifying agent that is animal-derived and should be avoided. So the next time before you throw some apple juice into your blender to make a delicious smoothie, just make sure that it’s really vegan.
3 – Chocolate
Nooooo way! Sadly, yes for some. While cocoa is vegan, many other ingredients it’s combined with, aren’t. Unfortunately, a lot of regular chocolate contains milk or milk products. This can even be the case for some dark chocolate brands, so be sure to check carefully.
It’s not all bad news though, and you definitely don’t have to give up on chocolate when you are vegan. There are lots of vegan chocolate brands on the market, and even some traditional chocolate brands are 100% vegan.
4 – Wine and Beer
Can be a sad but true fact especially for the oenophiles and beer devotees. One of the main clarifying agents used in both beer and wine is isinglass – a fish-derived gelatin-based substance. Another couple of non-vegan ingredients found in certain wines are egg whites and casein. These aren’t always listed on the bottle, so you may want to do your research first.
There are many reputable companies out there who recognize the needs of the vegan community. As such, there are still a good number of choices for vegans. These are quite easy to find by doing a quick online search.
5 – Worcestershire Sauce
The tanginess and the depth of flavor that come with a dash of Worcestershire sauce can be too much for some to be deprived of it. Yet traditional recipes for the sauce include anchovies (small forage fish), which for a vegan, are off-limits.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go without it and like most food there are lots of vegan-friendly varieties out there. Everyone can get their Worcestershire sauce fix, and you can even make your own!
6 – Veggie Burgers
Just because it’s ‘veggie’, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s vegan. These are one of the most commonly mistaken vegan foods. These products can contain eggs or dairy, but you don’t have to get disheartened since there are many vegan burger brands, just be sure to double-check before purchasing.
7 – Figs
Wait, what? Figs??… This is perhaps the strangest one on the list, and a one of controversy. The only reason why we included this in the article is to clarify things, so that you would know what goes behind the process of pollinating figs.
First of all, figs are technically not a fruit ― they are inverted flowers. Despite figs that look like a naturally produced fruit, some figs, to become edible, it must first be pollinated by female wasps.
There are male & female trees that produce figs but only figs produced by female trees are edible.
The figs produced by male trees (caprifig) are inedible by humans and is used exclusively for pollinating other edible figs thus making it irrelevant whether vegan or not.
Note that these are the type of figs where female wasps use to lay eggs.
On the other hand, when a female wasp enters into a long female fig, it’s not accommodating for the wasp to lay eggs and the wasp dies being trapped inside unable to break free. This is required for some female figs to pollinate and get ripened.
The figs produce a protein-digesting enzyme called ficain which digests the dead wasp and they absorb the nutrients to create the ripe fruit. The crunchy bits in figs are seeds and not the remains of wasps. So, no, those figs you bought at the store are not full of dead wasps!
In fact, there are many commercial figs that do not require wasps to pollinate and most U.S.-grown figs are self-pollinating, so they’re wasp-free!
So after considering all the facts above, are figs vegan? Well, as far as our own opinion is concerned (which we always align with the definition of veganism: “as far as is possible and practicable”) we can’t find any justifiable reason to consider them as non-vegan. The cycle is completely natural, and takes place only in some varieties, and most commercial figs do not require wasps to pollinate.
8 – Orange Juice
Another food, people often get caught out with thinking it’s vegan when it isn’t is orange juice. Any orange juice that’s pure and unfortified is vegan. But often, these drinks have extra micro-nutrients thrown in that may not be vegan.
Some forms of vitamin D are not vegan. Vitamin D2 is always vegan, but vitamin D3 may be derived from sheep’s wool.
9 – Pasta and Noodles
It’s an easy one to forget as it seems too plain to be an issue. But, if you think about it, some pasta and noodles are made using eggs. Another non-vegan ingredient you may come across in colored pasta is squid ink.
These days most dried pasta and noodles you can buy are vegan so you have a lot of options, but just check the label to make sure.
For those who are new to the world of veganism, at first glance it may seem daunting thinking that you can’t eat anything. But, that really is not the case living in an era where more people are transitioning into a vegan lifestyle and more vegan products coming into the market ever so often
Just be careful when you’re choosing products as some products may seem to be vegan-friendly, whereas when taking a closer look, they aren’t.