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Does vegetarian food contain ingredients derived from animals? Find out….

Updated on October 27, 2015

Vegetables and fruits

Vegetable and fruits
Vegetable and fruits | Source

The definition of a vegetarian:

· A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs.


· A vegetarian does not eat meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or by-products of slaughter.

Thought here are different degrees of vegetarianism which may cause confusion with the caterers. To understand, given below the most common forms of vegetarianism are:

  • Lac to-ovo-vegetarian. Eats both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
  • Lac to-vegetarian. Eats dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
  • Vegan. Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.
  • Vaganism. Excludes all animal flesh and products, such as milk, honey, and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as bone-char refined white sugar or animal –tested baking soda.
  • Raw veganism. Includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.
  • Fruitarianism. Permits only fruit,nuts,seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.

· Buddhist vegetarianism. Deferent Buddhist traditions have differing teachings on diet, which may also vary for ordained monks and nuns compared to others. Many interpret the precept ‘not to kill’ to require abstinence from meat, but not all. Taiwanese Su vegetarianism excludes not only all animal products but also vegetables in the allium family of bulbous herbs of the lily family including the onion, garlic, chive, leek, and shallot and have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic.


Symbols for veg&non-veg
Symbols for veg&non-veg | Source

So, you think you’re pure vegetarian?

I ask you to forget about the French fries which were deep fried in beef tallow, the controversy about additives derived from animal sources goes beyond multinationals down to the toothpaste you use to brush your teeth and the flour that goes into making vegetarian bread and other eatables. In India and now all over the world, these issues are taken on, as a debate is going on between pros and cons of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. Those in favor of vegetarian food have fundamental right as consumer, to know the content of the foodstuff they buy and consume. The additives and ingredients used in making vegetarian food MAY have been derived from animal sources and affects your ability to exercise a knowledgeable choice.

According to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Acts (Enacted differently or by different definition in countries of the World) every consumer has a right to know whether manufactures are including the following facts in packaging of their products or not:

1. It is compulsory for the packaged food industries to label packages with ingredients, nutritive values and prominently showing the non-vegetarian logo, which is a brown circle in a brown square. (Sometimes red circle in a red square.)

2. In cases of vegetarian contents, a green circle in a green square should be stamped on the packaging of the food item.

3. An article of food which contains the whole or part of any animal, including birds, fresh-water marine animals or their oils, or eggs as an ingredient are known as Non-vegetarian food items.

According to the consumer guidance societies, there are various loopholes in research which allow manufacturers to get away with much. The point is the manufacturers use substances that cannot be chemically traced to an animal or plant origin. For instance, glycerin may be derived from vegetarian or non-vegetarian sources. There is simply no chemical way of ascertaining the root. Ingredients like micronutrients and enzymes, for example are often excluded from the determination process. Though organization like Beauty without Cruelty is working in these fields, little headway has been made in uncovering the wide abuse of terminology.

Following products are definitely animal driven.

Lard: is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered forms. Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Though its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished, however many contemporary cooks and bakers favor it over other fats for select uses.

Tallow: Is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow cane stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.

Margarine: The principal raw material in the original formulation of margarine was beef fat. Shortage in supply combined with advances made in the hydrogenation of plant materials soon let to the introduction of vegetable oils to the process, and between 1900 and 1920 oleomargarine was produced from a combination of animal fats and hardened and unhardened vegetable oil.

Carminic acid: Is a red glucosidal hydroxyanthrapurin that occurs naturally some scale insects, such as cochineal and Polish cochineal. The insects produce the acid as deterrent to predators. Carminic acid is the coloring agent in carmine.

Rennet: Natural calf rennet is extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber (the abomasums) of slaughtered young, unweaned calves. These stomachs are a by-product of veal production. If rennet is extracted from older calves the rennet contains less or no chymosin but a high level of pepsin and can only be used for special types of milk and cheeses.

Gelatin: The worldwide production amount of gelatin is about 375,000 tons per year. On a commercial scale, gelatin is made from by-product of the meat and leather industry. Recently, fish b y-product has also been considered because they eliminate some of religious obstacles surrounding gelatin consumption. Gelatin is derived from pork skins, pork, horses, and cattle bones, or split cattle hides, and used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings( such as Jell-O),in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts Etc.

Wow !!

 Wow!!Processed cheese
Wow!!Processed cheese | Source
Wow!! Jams and Jelly
Wow!! Jams and Jelly | Source
Wow!! Ketchup
Wow!! Ketchup | Source
Wow!! Sndwitch spread
Wow!! Sndwitch spread | Source

Food items that may have ingredients derived from animal sources.

1. Packaged rice and pasta dishes may contain chicken or beef fat, even if not mentioned, as flavoring agent

2. Chewing gum contains rennet that derived from the stomachs of cows. Rennet is also used to coagulate cheese

3. Jellies, mashed avocado seasoned with condiments, nougat and gummy candies contains gelatin

4. Ready made pastries and pie crusts are often made with animal fats to enhance flavors.

5. Wines and beers often contain gelatin and isinglass (a semitransparent whitish very pure gelatin prepared from the air bladders of fishes)

6. Medicines especially capsules, contain animal gelatin, and many vitamins are derived from animal bones.

7. Calcium supplements, often added to cereals, may contain animal bones

8. Vitamin D-3 is animal derived

9. The term ‘Natural flavors’ used and mentioned on the packaging can indicate any acceptable food flavoring, whether animal or plant derived.

List showing ingredients that MAY be of animal origin

· Disodium Inosinate

· Protese

· Amylase

· Stearic acid

· Trypsin

· Lipase

· Mono and di-glycerides

· Sodium stearyal lactylate

· Emulsifiers

· Stabilisers

· Pepsin

· Fatty acids

· Lactylate

· Glycerin/glycerol

· Polysorbater

· Magnesium stearate

· Enzymes

Origin of emulsifiers

The most common type of emulsifiers used are lipids called monoglycerides. These are produced by reacting fatty acids with glycerol. Most of the other emulsifiers are produced by the esterification of other materials, such as lactic acid with mono- and di-glycerides. The most commonly used emulsifiers are lecithin (E322) and the mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids (E471). There are many other emulsifiers in use. Without the use of emulsifiers, many foods would be inedible.

Natural sources like vegetable oils and animal fats are often used to make emulsifiers.

List of Emulsifiers

1. E 471 (glycerylmonostearate)

2. E472 (aceticesters of fattyacids)

May be derived from pork fat, and used in Cakes, hot-chocolate mix, quick custard mix, shaped crisps, dehydrated potatoes etc and others are:

E nos.: 120,140,141,153,161,252,280,322,385,352,430,436,450,470,478,481,483,491,495509,515,526,540,545,552,570,572,623,627,631,635 and 904

Gluten free
Gluten free | Source

The vegetarians can see and use the following substitutes

To replace Gelatin, look for agar agar, carrageen and gelozone.

To replace Rennet, look for rennin, the vegetarian version.

To replace Chocolate, use carobe, which is available in Europe?

Most derivatives that contain the term’ Soya’ in front of it, imply that vegetarian alternative has been used.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks for a very informative article.

      I can't eat anything confortably now .

    • Funkarkhalid profile imageAUTHOR

      Khalid Ahmed 

      5 years ago from Lucknow

      Thank Silva for your comment.I think it is good if this Hub helps vegetarians.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 

      5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Many people don't know about rennet or gelatin. Informative hub. Voted up, useful, and interesting. Thanks.


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