Why is that not vegan?

I am a quiet and shy guy, so asking a lot of questions at a restaurant is hard for me. As a vegetarian I could just look at the menu and see that there was no meat in the dish and I was good to go. Now that I have become vegan it has made me ask a lot of questions because chefs, restaurants, and food producers like to throw animal products in their food and even try to hide that they came from animals.

At my company every year we go to the same restaurant for our department holiday lunch and they have delicious mushroom bisque. Recently, I asked if it had butter in it and the waiter told me it didn’t, but it did contain chicken stock. I was mortified that for the last five years I had been eating this soup without knowing that it had chicken stock in it. Why do chefs feel the need to ruin vegetarian dishes with animal products? They are not the only ones that sneak stuff in either. Bagels are usually vegan except at Dunkin’ Doughnuts where they add L-cysteine made out of duck feathers. Why? McDonald’s feels the need to coat their fries with beef fat prior to being frozen in the factory.

In October we had a Thanksliving potluck and a new vegan had brought pineapple in Jell-O not realizing that the gelatin in Jell-O is made from pigskins, cattle bones, and cattle hides. Oh, delicious.

Love that red food coloring? It probably is listed a carmine, which is made from grinding up the dead, dried remains of the cochineal beetle. It takes around 70,000 beetles to make one pound of powdered dye. Did you see the ingredient castoreum on your raspberry candy? Stay away it is made from the anal glands of a beaver.

There are many more weird ingredients made from animals and you can get more information from The Vegetarian Resource Group or check out Mauro’s review of Animal Ingredient Guides.

Have you found out that they snuck an animal ingredient into one of your meals? Have you found something that is vegan that you would never think would be? What advice can you give to new vegans to make sure their meal is actually vegan?

About James Lucas


James has been a graphic designer for over 18 years and owns Wave Hound Surf Shop. James started Doylestown Movie Fans, who meet once a month to see movies at the County Theater in Doylestown, PA. He and his wife Chris started Bucks County Vegan Supper Club in 2009, whose members meet once a month to have a vegan potluck dinner. They are currently working through the Veganomicon cookbook, which inspires experienced and recent vegans to try new recipes. James is proud to support Farm Sanctuary and The Surfrider Foundation.

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2 Responses to “Why is that not vegan?”
  1. Mauro says:

    Hey James, I’ve found out that most bagels that you can buy at the bakery section of grocery stores (I don’t buy bread from the bread isle) have L-cysteine on them… and a lot of the other breads can have some sort of animal-derived product added in. It’s easier to spot that stuff now that I have the Animal-Free app on my phone, although it does take a *lot* of label-reading.

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