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Are You Unknowingly Eating Foods With Animal Products?

According to a survey in 2019, over five million Americans follow the vegan diet. Vegans consume plant-based products that consist of fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts, and legumes. The critical rule vegans follow includes a strictly plant-based diet and a big no to animal products. However, you may be avoiding animal products, but did you know there are animal-derived products, which you are not aware of? 

Read through the list of foods/ nutrients which are animal-derived but are mostly mistaken to be plant-derived.

Food Additives

One such example is carmine which is a red-colored pigment from a crushed cochineal insect. Over 70,000 female insects sacrifice their lives to produce one pound of this dye. Alternatives that you could use include beetroot juice for its maroon, dark reddish color. Alkanet root, a herblike tree, is also widely used in wines due to its non-toxic property.


Gelatin comes from the skin, ligaments, and tendons of animals such as cows and pigs. People commonly use it as a thickener in jellies or puddings. Alternatives to gelatin are carrageenan, seaweeds such as agar-agar, pectin, dextrin, and cotton gum.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega- 3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient for cognitive development. However, most of the time, it is from fish, and you may not be aware of its origin. So make sure you consume omega-3 fatty acids from plants solely. The best plant-derived sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds that decrease bad cholesterol in the body, Brussels sprouts, a good source of vitamin C and K, algal oil that contains Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid, and walnuts which help to improve brain function.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin, exclusively from animal-based products such as meat and dairy. However, restricting yourself from consuming Vitamin B12 is a hazardous mistake as its deficiency gives rise to megaloblastic anemia, weakness, fatigue, and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the essential plant-derived foods such as soy products, yeast extracts, and cereals can be enriched with supplements having Vitamin B12.


It is a crucial carbohydrate from dairy milk which is an essential nutritional component of milk. Products that may contain lactose apart from animal-based milk include processed grains and potatoes.

Vitamin D3

Your body can easily absorb vitamin D from the sunlight; however, you need a dose of this essential nutrient if you live beyond the equators. Most of the sources of Vitamin D3 include fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. For vegans, Vitamin D3 supplements are available, which are from lichens.


It is a resinous excretory product of some insects mainly used in candy glaze. Alternatives to it include plant waxes or zein obtained from corn.


Whey is an important serum component of dairy milk. It can be present in pieces of bread, cookies, and candies. You can supplement your diet with soybean whey.

The Bottom Line

Most vegans avoid foods that are animal-based or animal-derived. However, some formulations can include animal-derived products even in small quantities that vegans may not be aware of.  To be more aware of the list of food and nutrients, check the labels and the logo to confirm the product to be vegan.