10 Surprising Things That Aren't Vegan, Including Chewing Gum, Candles And Worcestershire Sauce

Here's what you need to avoid.

If you’re new to veganism, avoiding food, drink and other products derived from animals can be a minefield.

To help, here are 10 things you may have assumed are vegan-friendly, but aren’t.

1. Wine

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According to animal rights charity Peta, the majority of people are unaware that wine, although made from grapes, may have been made using animal-derived products.

“During the winemaking process, the liquid is filtered through substances called fining agents,” the website explains.

“Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of wine include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fibre from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).”

Thankfully, there are several common fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan wine. You can find a list of vegan wines at Barnivore.com.

2. Guacamole

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While the key ingredient in guacamole is avocado, some brands, such as Tesco, currently add cream to their guac, making it unsuitable for vegans.

Thankfully guacamole is pretty easy to make at home, so follow this recipe to ensure your dip is always free from animal products.

3. Chewing Gum

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“Gum base” is listed among the ingredients of most chewing gums and it refers to the agent that makes chewing gum chewy.

While some companies, such as Wrigley, use a synthetic formula, other companies use non-vegan gum base.

“Most chewing gums innocuously list “gum base” as one of their ingredients, masking the fact that petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, and latex may be among the components,” the Vegetarian Resource Group warns.

“Because of standards of identity for items such as gum base and flavouring, manufacturers are not required to list everything in their product.”

4. Pesto

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Some pestos, such as the classic basil pesto by Saclà Italia, contain milk and eggs and are therefore a definite no go for vegans.

Check the label to be sure of the ingredients in your pesto, or follow one of these vegan pasta recipes to make your own at home.

5. Tattoo Ink

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If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo to celebrate your new vegan lifestyle, be careful what ink the artist uses.

According to Peta, some tattoo inks contain “bone char, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves, or shellac from beetles”.

When you’re checking out tattoo shops, ask the owners if they use vegan ink or see if they’re willing to use vegan-friendly ink ordered in from a brand such as Eternal Ink.

6. Worcestershire Sauce

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Throwing a splash of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce into your shepherd’s pie or lasagna may be your go-to for adding extra flavour, but the popular sauce contains anchovies (fish).

Thankfully vegan-friendly alternatives are available, such as this one created by Biona.

7. Candles

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You may find candles a little less relaxing after discovering some are created with ingredients derived from animals.

“Most candles are made primarily of parafin, with the addition of a small amount (up to 10%) stearic acid to harden the wax and provide opacity,” vegan.com explains.

“Parafin is a vegan petroleum derivative, but stearic acid is usually produced from animal fat. While coconut-based stearic acid is easy to find most candlemakers opt for the cheaper animal-based version, since slaughterhouses produce this byproduct by the ton.

“Some premium candles are made from beeswax, which is obviously not vegan.”

To find a vegan-friendly candle, we’d recommend hitting up Etsy where many sellers specify their candle’s ingredients.

8. Figs

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Those with a weak stomach may want to skip the next paragraph. Did you know that figs can contain a decomposed dead wasp inside?

The female fig wasp enters the male fig to lay its eggs. We don’t usually eat male figs, but sometimes female wasps will accidentally enter female figs. Once inside, the wasp is unable to escape and therefore dies in the trap. It decomposes before we eat it, but there will still be tiny traces left behind.

9. Beer

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According to Peta, the majority of beer is suitable for vegan consumption but occasionally, beer includes ingredients such as milk (mostly in milk stouts) or honey.

A few beers are also clarified using isinglass (made from fish bladders). You can find an extensive list of vegan beers at barnivore.com/beer.

10. Beauty Products

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As well as containing animal by-products, some beauty products fail the vegan test because brands use animal testing. It’s not just lotions you need to think about but brushes too, as some brands use real animal hair in their products.

The good news is vegan makeup, brushes and other beauty products have never been more popular.

Read our article on some of the best brands out there to get some inspiration.

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