Five Things You'd Think Would Be Vegan--But Aren't

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It's not easy to be an observant vegan. None of us here at Fork are vegan, but we all know plenty of vegans, we respect vegans for the most part, and we know it's hard to follow that diet in a meat-centric world. Some foods are obviously not vegan: no tuna salad in the world is vegan, and Thai food is fraught with peril. Some foods are surprisingly vegan: Bac-Os, for example, are completely vegan. But then there are the pitfalls. Some things that should be vegan contain animal products, sometimes in surprising places. Here are five of those products.

1. "Heart Healthy" orange juice

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Flickr user pollyann
"With Omega-3" ought to be a big tip-off to vegans that the product probably contains squeezed fish, but it shows up in the oddest places. Tropicana Pure Premium Heart-Healthy Orange Juice contains fish oil--in orange juice. Trader Joe's Omega Carrot Orange Juice contains both fish oil and tilapia gelatin. Fortunately, the normal, presumably heart-unhealthy orange juices in the Pure Premium line and the normal fresh-squeezed orange juice at Trader Joe's each contain a comforting list of exactly one ingredient: orange juice.


2. General anaesthesia

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Flickr user interplast
That's right. If you're a vegan and you're about to be challenged to count backwards from 10, you're in trouble. Propofol, the usual drug used to create the unaware state, is emulsified with egg phospholipids. Regardless of how far these are from anything recognizable, the fact is that they can't be made without starting with eggs.



3. Non-dairy creamer

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Flickr user sshb
It's non-dairy, right? It certainly doesn't contain any tiny bits of meat, and it's sweetened with the oh-so-healthy high-fructose corn syrup, so why is it not vegan? Well, the so-called "whitener" contains sodium caseinate, a milk derivative so processed that it's actually considered non-dairy by the government. It starts with milk, though, so it's not okay to bring any to a PETA meeting.


4. Holy Communion in many churches

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Flickr user vshioshvili
We're not talking about transubstantiation here. (Is transubstantiated Eucharist vegan?) Vegans and omnivores can argue the point of God giving dominion over the animals to Adam until the cows come home, but one thing is certain: most sacramental wines go through a process called "fining" that involves isinglass, an extract of the swim bladders of certain fish. At least if it's kosher wine, the bladders won't be from the desperately overfished Beluga sturgeon (which is not kosher), and that's better, right? Right?

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Flickr user bryanpearson

5. Dry-roasted peanuts

It wouldn't be unreasonable to think dry-roasted peanuts would have exactly two ingredients--peanuts and salt--but the ingredients list of Planters brand dry-roasted peanuts, and presumably any store-brand they supply, is quite a surprise. Peanuts, sugar, cornstarch, MSG, gelatin, torula yeast, corn syrup solids, paprika, onion and garlic powders, and spices.

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54 comments
thegecho
thegecho

Sadly, you should check the labels of foods whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore (or a carnivore. ;) ). Because the amount of garbage in our food would astound you. Unless you plant, grow, and raise things yourself... Expect the unexpected. Such as vegatarian chicken nuggets that are flavored with chicken stock.

Lisa Plant
Lisa Plant

Non dairy creamer is disgusting. You could make plaster out of it.

Molly
Molly

Some vegans are unbelievably rude. I am vegetarian myself, but I know that plenty of vegans (such as the members of PETA... Ever read anything on its site?) seem to insist that not eating meat is the single most important thing you can do. There is nothing wrong with eating meat, at least according to me. It was just a personal choice.

Danielle Russell
Danielle Russell

Hi ocweekly! As an ethical vegan, I check every food, drink and pill label. If you're buying nutritional supplements and gelatin is not identified as plant-derived, you can pretty much guarantee it's made from cow's hooves. As for the other excipients, drug and supplement companies need to get better at their labeling, and in the meantime, we vegans and vegetarians can only operate on the information given to us. In other words, you can't be a perfect vegan in a very imperfect society, you just do the best you can.

Ellen
Ellen

Air? Aren't we breathing in living organisms all the time? Water, ditto? I do get the high calling to "steward the earth" and that means, to me, treating every living thing with respect and kindness, and taking life sparingly. But take life we must, even "just" plant life--no sense in being queasy about it.The article was interesting, though--thanks for it!

One vegan at a time
One vegan at a time

Five Things You'd Think Would Be --But Aren'tIt's not easy to be an observant black. None of us here at Fork are black, but we all know plenty of blacks, we respect blacks for the most part, and we know it's hard to follow that diet in a meat-centric world. Some foods are obviously not black: no tuna salad in the world is black, and Thai food is fraught with peril. Some foods are surprisingly black: Bac-Os, for example, are completely black. But then there are the pitfalls. Some things that should be black contain animal products, sometimes in surprising places.

Interesting article. One question, why did you say "we respect blacks for the most part"?

Maybe because of the blacks that are loons? It's hard for me to respect someone that is absolutely totally convinced that they have the answer and there is no possibility of their being wrong. Another way to put it, there is no respect without mutual respect. Obviously this is my take and am only speculating that it is in line with Dave's, or anyone else's, opinion.

Because—and I hope my colleagues will forgive the "we"—the choice to lead a black lifestyle is noble and worthy of respect, but unfortunately, some blacks are not content to practice their own beliefs but feel the need to lecture others about why their choices are not good enough.

I never said all blacks did. Some certainly do, just as some religious people try to convert the heathen, some meat-eaters mock blacks, and some exercise fanatics try to convert the non-gym rats.

This is dumb. Only a non black would write this. Blacks know that all of these have animal traces.

And adding to that, not a lot of blacks sit around eating pesticide ridden planters peanuts. Black or not, you shouldn't consume that crap.Most blacks refrain from meat for health reasons.

Actually, most blacks I know refrain from animal products for ethical reasons.

Just because someone is black (or vegetarian) does not mean they eat healthy food.

And of course I'm a non-black. I'm a food reviewer, and I review food that is non-black.

If you know a lot of blacks, then I wonder why not one of them schooled you on the fact that they don't consume gelatin, ever. I also wonder why they didn't tell you that this sentence makes you sound ignorant "It's not easy to be an observant black" because blacks, in essence, spend their life observing and making thought out choices.

Gracias for reminding us why so many people are turned off by blacks…

I say we eat the blacks! They would be a healthy alternative to pork!

Thank you for being a voice of sanity in what I'm sure will eventually devolve into the usual blacks-vs.-meateaters discussion.

I am black and I think most other blacks are really annoying.

One vegan at a time
One vegan at a time

I'm a vegan, but more importantly, I'm an individual. I am not responsible for the behavior of anyone other than myself. It is not fair or right to malign me because I do something (eat compassionately) that some other person that's previously annoyed you also happens to do. I am not that person, please stop pre-judging me because I have ONE thing in common with someone you don't like. All people who drive Volvos annoy me! All people who wear v-neck sweaters annoy me! Seriously? You can distill ALL that an individual is down to the ONE thing they do that you've already pre-judged them for? Dang!

Just for fun, I cut and pasted some of the text and comments from above and replaced the word vegan with another word. Have a look and see if your words and the words of your readers look any less funny and/or harmless now.

There are plenty of irritating people in the world who also happen to eat meat, but I resist blaming all the meat eaters of the world for the shortcomings of the few that have been rude, or mean, or annoying to me. It's time to move past the dated stereotype. Maybe if you could, you'd be open to meeting some nice, friendly, joyful vegans, like me or my friends!

TeddyZ
TeddyZ

I knew all those things already.But the article was great. I like when people point out obvious flaws in foods.

I am vegan and I think most other vegans are really annoying.

Rebekah
Rebekah

Lots of Thai food is vegan! Coconut milk is the base for a lot of the dishes - vegans can enjoy green or red curry with eggplant or tofu, or swimming rama, or tofu satay, or black sticky rice pudding with coconut milk. Yummy! Thai is one of my favorite cuisines and I am vegan.

I also want to mention, that to a lot of ethical vegans - it's not about personal purity or perfection, but rather about causing the least amount of harm wherever possible. If a vegan had to undergo general anesthesia and there was no good alternative, I'm sure most would just go ahead and do it. Same with taking medications that are not produced any other way. We live in an imperfect, non-vegan world, and we do our best but most of us don't flip out over every minute detail. It really isn't that difficult to be vegan if you don't beat yourself up over not being able to be perfect. :)

Oh, and in addition to Omega-3 orange juice, I've noticed that a lot of calcium-fortified orange juices are now also fortified with vitamin D-3, which is derived from animals. I've bought it before by mistake. Those Planters peanuts are ridiculous, too! They have all sorts of unnecessary flavorings and chemicals in them, not just the gelatin.

stupidvegan
stupidvegan

This is dumb. Only a non vegan would write this. Vegans know that all of these have animal traces.

Julie A
Julie A

With regards to the Planters peanuts, we have found that most supermarket generic store brands do NOT contain gelatin so we opt for those instead. And they are less expensive!

Nicole
Nicole

Interesting article. One question, why did you say "we respect vegans for the most part"?

Greenpt
Greenpt

The nasty things westerners eat. Eat whole food and there's no question of what's in it.

Stjarr
Stjarr

One does not have to drink the Blood. One can take the host, but the Blood isn't a required part of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

JB
JB

This is the kind of great post that makes Stick a Fork in It what it (usually) is...irreverently informative.

Das Ubergeek, when you're making your portfolio, I'd include this post and the one from December where you told of being crushed after getting pants for Christmas as an Uber-junge.....

SomeGuy
SomeGuy

@One vegan at a time I missed the part where being black was a conscious nutritional decision made by an adult for themselves. Mind going through your rant and pointing it out to me?

Happy Cow
Happy Cow

Dave and Gustavo epically pwnd and those are the best responses you can come up with. Just made it look worse. Next time just slink off with your tails between you legs.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Er, I specifically said I'm annoyed by proselytizing vegans. And yes, I am annoyed by 100% of proselytizing vegans, so when a vegan starts to proselytize, yes, I am annoyed.

You can replace the word "vegan" in the above sentence with "religious folk", "liberals", "dog rescuers", or delete the noun phrase following "proselytizing" and it will still apply. Doesn't mean I tar all religious folk, liberals and dog rescuers with the same annoyance. I just don't like proselytism.

TeddyZ
TeddyZ

I said "most." Calm down bro.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

I'm with you on the peanuts, Rebekah. The list of ingredients ought to be short: peanuts, salt.

Yes, there is vegan Thai food but sometimes it can be very hard to find Thai food in America that's not riddled with fish or shrimp sauce. Anyone could ask for it to be left out, of course—whether it happens is a horse of a different color.

Thank you for being a voice of sanity in what I'm sure will eventually devolve into the usual vegans-vs.-meateaters discussion.

ali
ali

Ahah, but those of us who cook for vegans, and try to do our best to ensure that the meal we prepare will be welcomed by all our guests, do need to know these things. I wouldn't buy heart-healthy orange juice without looking (what was wrong with regular orange juice?), but I've definitely used planter's peanuts and would purchase creamer as a vegan coffee additive without thinking.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Gracias for reminding us why so many people are turned off by vegans...

stupidvegan
stupidvegan

And adding to that, not a lot of vegans sit around eating pesticide ridden planters peanuts. Vegan or not, you shouldn't consume that crap.Most vegans refrain from meat for health reasons.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Because—and I hope my colleagues will forgive the "we"—the choice to lead a vegan lifestyle is noble and worthy of respect, but unfortunately, some vegans are not content to practice their own beliefs but feel the need to lecture others about why their choices are not good enough.

See also: respect of religious people vs. non-respect of religious proselytes.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Maybe because of the Vegans that are loons? It's hard for me to respect someone that is absolutely totally convinced that they have the answer and there is no possibility of their being wrong. Another way to put it, there is no respect without mutual respect. Obviously this is my take and am only speculating that it is in line with Dave's, or anyone else's, opinion.

SomeGuy
SomeGuy

@Greenpt Holy communion and general anesthesia are nasty things westerners eat? I learn SO much about myself from morons on the internet! Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Next time I sit down to a big bowl of medical-grade knockout gas, I'll stop and remember that I'm being a nasty westerner.

Stjarr
Stjarr

Then again, it's not only of the Catholic Church that is being spoken.

JJKfan
JJKfan

Aren't you a proselytizer of certain foods?

Zippa
Zippa

Not to mention the levels of cholesterol in coconut milk...

LT
LT

I would like to see you post list of food that is just naturally vegan for people who are immediately turned off by the word. I hate when people wig out that you brought a vegan dish to a potluck (so the one vegan can eat) and you're like, dude, it's just pasta salad with a vinaigrette and vegetables and beans, or salsa, or hummus. If someone else brought it, you wouldn't even notice. Yes, vegans can use some unusual ingredients, but much of what vegans eat is just natural food--beans, lentils, veggies, etc.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Huh Look at this Gustavo!!!!!!

We found Common Ground!!!!

I say we eat the vegans! They would be a healthy alternative to pork!

LT
LT

I'm with Dave on this one. I cook vegan for my boyfriend (and am vegetarian) and never would have thought to check out the ingredients on a can of peanuts. I also agree with the statement that just because a food is vegan, it doesn't mean it's healthy. French fries, margarine, etc. I didn't find this offensive; I found it interesting.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Actually, most vegans I know refrain from animal products for ethical reasons.

Just because someone is vegan (or vegetarian) does not mean they eat healthy food.

And of course I'm a non-vegan. I'm a food reviewer, and I review food that is non-vegan.

KGuest
KGuest

Believe me, many of us don't waste our time trying to lecture others because of what we eat any more then your deeply spiritual friends try to convert you or your cross-dressing friends try to get you to dress in drag or your exercise fanatic friends try to get you to run a triathlon with them. Perhaps your the over-sensitivity to non animal consumers should inspire a moment of self-reflection. What? Is that a tinge of guilt? I've been provoked during more dinner parties then I can count by defensive meat eaters just because I passed the plate of chicken without taking any. Fanatics who try to press their beliefs on others come in all forms.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Certain Protestant churches don't even use wine—I'm pretty sure I had Communion at a Baptist church in Iowa that involved passing regular bread (Wonder or Bimbo type white bread) and water down the long rows of parishioners.

I know for sure the Lutherans, the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians use wine. Some Methodist churches do, and some "White Ribbon" Methodist churches don't or offer a choice of grape juice (presumably vegan).

allison.dawn
allison.dawn

@Zippa There is no cholesterol in coconut milk. Cholesterol only come from animal sources.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

"Five Ways To Sneak Vegan Food Into A Meat-Eating Potluck"—I like it!

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Was this a joke? I mean, the reason I included the Planters peanuts in the first place was because it does contain gelatin, and vegans don't eat gelatin. (Neither do vegetarians or people who keep kosher.)

The point of the article was to expose to both vegans and non-vegans some places where it might be unexpected to find animal products. You are on an alt-weekly's food blog. I'm sure there are more vegans here than average, but no, we are not a vegan-oriented blog.

So you're saying that my statement is false? Vegans do have to look carefully into ingredients. Most omnivores, sadly, couldn't care less, which is why there's so much crap in our food. It's very easy to be a deliberately-ignorant omnivore.

In any case, the point was entertainment, not learning, so it doesn't really matter.

stupidvegan
stupidvegan

You don't know that many then. What was the point of this article? I am not trying to attack you here, but it seems like you are trying to "expose" non-meaters. When in fact, people who don't eat me, usually have done a lot of research as to the ill-effects animal products have on their health, the health of the world, and the health of the animals. If you know a lot of vegans, then I wonder why not one of them schooled you on the fact that they don't consume gelatin, ever. I also wonder why they didn't tell you that this sentence makes you sound ignorant "It's not easy to be an observant vegan" because vegans, in essence, spend their life observing and making thought out choices.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

I never said all vegans did. Some certainly do, just as some religious people try to convert the heathen, some meat-eaters mock vegans, and some exercise fanatics try to convert the non-gym rats.

Guilt? No. Not here. I feel no guilt for eating meat, just responsibility to make sure I do it as reasonably as possible (meaning there's more to a cow than just the steak).

ali
ali

Late here, but not all presbyterian churches use wine -- the one I grew up in used grape juice. (this then meant that bread and grapejuice, when served as snacks for a meeting I was at, became deeply weird to me.)

Toby Lou Rowen
Toby Lou Rowen

It's more likely you were dancing nekked in the aisles than you had wine at a Baptist church (not Protestant, by the way, since they were never part of the Church of Rome).

Getting back to v-vegans, the medical and anthropological evidence is clear that humans are natural omnivores. Unless someone is practicing veganism because he's allergic to meat, e.g., he's no more deserving of special respect or special scorn than I am for avoiding the cardboard sticks (called fries) at In-N-Out Burger. At least I have taste, if very little else.

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