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10 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian

Updated on February 11, 2013

Nothing is Safe!

In 2007, Dunkin Donuts confirmed that they used Poultry Feathers as a dough conditioner. In 2012, Starbucks confirmed that they used bug extract to color foods.
In 2007, Dunkin Donuts confirmed that they used Poultry Feathers as a dough conditioner. In 2012, Starbucks confirmed that they used bug extract to color foods.
Even Sugar!
Even Sugar!
Bye Gummy Bears!
Bye Gummy Bears!

Are you shocked by the items on this list?

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I only THOUGHT I was a vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian for over 5 years and I thought a very diligent vegetarian at that. I try to ask the right questions in restaurants, to check labels at the grocery, and avoid anything that I am not certain about. As if being a vegetarian wasn't hard enough I am learning more about the foods I eat and am finding that what I thought was meatless may not be! Not only is meat hidden in common items BUT there are also processes that take place in the manufacturing of our foods that introduce even the most common items to animal by-products. I only began to find these things out after finding that a yogurt that I relly liked contained TILAPIA! Really, my yogurt had fish in it! What's worse is that I am trying to eat as many organic and all natural foods as possible and that habit may INCREASE my odds of finding a meat by product in my food!

I do want to note that I am not vegan nor am I against things like honey and milk. I didn't choose to be a vegetarian for any social, ethical, or religious reasons...I simply don't want to eat meat. Even as loose as I am on WHY I am a vegetarian, this list shocked me as well as my carnivorous husband. I hope I don't ruin any foods for you but nonetheless, here is a short list of 10 foods you only THOUGHT were vegetarian.

1. Yogurt - yes, you heard it right. Many yogurts will contain gelatin. Gelatin is made from animal bones, connective tissue, and organs and is used to bind, thicken, and stabilize foods. If you aren't careful, you can also get its All-natural twin Tilapia gelatin. It is made from tilapia and allows foods to be certified as Kosher. Equally gross if you ask me.

( if you are avoiding gelatin say goodbye to many jellies, sour cream, jello, candies, gummy bears, marshmallows, SALAD DRESSINGS, etc)

2. Tortillas - Good for you, you remembered to ask if the beans contained lard..did you remember to ask about the tortilla? In many traditional recipes, lard is used in both flour and corn tortillas so its best to ask to be safe. Many restaurants may not know this answer so check it out online first!

3. Orange Juice - This one sounds so easy...take some oranges and squeeze them, right? Wrong. As we all look to be healthier and live longer, Omega 3s have been added to many common foods and the most popular would be O.J. Omega 3s are derived from fish. So it's a toss up on the vitamin vs. fish benefit.


4. Dry Roasted Peanuts/Potato Chips - Even snack foods are not safe. Gelatin is added to many store bought brands of peanuts and many potato chip flavors (like barbeque) include beef or chicken flavoring.

5. Cheese - While vegans won't touch the stuff, as a vegetarian it is a-ok....isn't it? Check out your next label of hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano as it will contain rennet. Rennet for lack of better words is “enzymes from animals’ stomachs.” Your label may also simply say enzymes so watch out. Or maybe you prefer something a bit smoother---look at the label of the fun and exciting "cheese-whiz. It contains "anchovies" listed as an ingredient. That is because it uses Worcestershire sauce....making Worcestershire sauce number 6.

6. Worcestershire Sauce - Standard Worcestershire sauce is made with anchovies and some brands also state beef hearts as an ingredient. This makes most BLOODY MARY's a no-no as it is included in many pre-mixes and in most bar recipes. Worcestershire is hidden in so many things so beware!

7. Sugar!!! WHAT?!?!? Yep, while sugar itself is vegetarian, it is sometimes filtered through charred animal bones. The filtering process helps to give the sugar its pretty white color! This also goes for many store bought cake mixes as they may have been processed in the same way. Boo:(

8. Soups - Just more proof that things aren't always what they seem. Popular soups like Vegetable , Split Pea, Potato, and Broccoli Cheese (even from Panera) contain beef or ham (split pea) as a flavoring. The labels MUST say vegetarian if you are buying it at the store or a restaurant.

9. Purchased Fruit Muffins/Smoothies - Many companies like Starbucks (Starbucks recently had to discontinue this from their smoothies after people found out....) have gotten sneaky. Using Cochineal, carminic acid, or carmine as a colorant allow the company to state that the item is all-natural as this all natural solution is used in place of red-dye...Want to know what the magic ingredient is..... red dye extracted from the female cochineal insect! So your smoothie or muffin (or ANYTHING red that isn't naturally for that matter) may contain bugs....Gross. I think I may take the dreaded red dye instead!

10. Bagels and other Pastry Products - I recently saw "dough conditioner" on the back of a package of tortillas and wondered...what is dough conditioner anyway? Well it can be many things and one of them is POULTRY FEATHERS! In 2007 Dunkin Donuts confirmed that they used poultry feathers in all of their baked products.


This is just a small list and trust me-it goes on an on. I had to stop my research because I was getting sick to my stomach and down to eating nothing. So, the question begs to be answered. Will I eliminate the things on this list? Many yes, but many like sugar no way. I need to be realistic about my lifestyle and avoiding everything is simply not possible. Being a vegetarian is a tough enough choice and can be a little tricky at times but for me, it is worth it. I feel better than ever and am happy with my decision to let some of these processes, no matter how disgusting, slip through the cracks. c'mon--No sugar?!?

I guess the bigger question is -After Reading this list...Will you eliminate anything from your diet?

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    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Interesting. I'm not vegan or vegetarian but it's fascinating to know what has to be avoided. I didn't know yogurt and Worcestershire were off limits. I eat a lot of yogurt and find that fascinating but it doesn't make me not eat it.

      Tortillas are another one as well that I didn't think about. So I guess that makes a veggie burrito not so veggie.

      Great hub!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This was very interesting. I wonder how many vegetarians are pulling their hair out right now....clevery composed.

      Sending you angels this evening :) ps

    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Interesting! I'm a vegetarian myself and sometimes find myself surprised that what I thought had no meat products did indeed. I was at a cookout this weekend and brought my veggie burger to eat but thought I'd be safe with the side dishes. I enjoyed some cheesy potatoes and asked the person who made them for the recipe because they were so good (and I thought my kids would love them). Turns out that cream of chicken soup was one of the ingredients. I had to talk myself out of feeling guilty since I didn't know. Thank you for this!

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 2 years ago

      Oh my god, this is shocking, as a vegetarian I feel... betrayed. I'm checking all my labels now. Some of this stuff just sounds disgusting, charred animal bones? Enzymes from animals' stomachs??? Voted up and useful!

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