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

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

"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

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

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

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?

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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