Hidden ingredients in everyday food products

Many every day food products contain ingredients derived from the slaughter of animals or ingredients not suitable for vegetarians. In most cases a vegetarian alternative will be available to use in its place. For example:

  • Gelatine is made from animal ligaments, tendons, bones, etc and can often be found in confectionery, low fat spreads, desserts, and other dairy products. Vegegel or agar agar are suitable alternatives and available from most supermarkets or catering suppliers.

  • Animal fat refers to carcass fat and may be present in a wide range of foods, including biscuits, cakes and margarines. Suet and lard are types of animal fats. Vegetable suet such as atora is available. Plenty of non-dairy margarines are on the market such as Tomor.

  • CheeseRennet: cheese is often made with rennet extracted from the stomach lining of slaughtered calves. However, vegetarian cheese is made with rennet from microbial source. There is a vegetarian alternative called Vegeren.

  • Pesto: Shop-bought pesto often contains cheese that is never suitable for vegetarians, like Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) or Grana Padano. However, there are pestos available to buy which contain vegetarian cheese - or you could make your own.
  • Islinglass may have been used to fine beer and wine. Most supermarkets or suppliers should be able to supply you with vegetarian and vegan wines. Companies like Vinceremos and Vintage Roots also have a vast collection of suitable wines.

  • Cochineal is made from crushed insects and is also known as E120. It is used as a red food colour and can be found in products such as jelly. Vegetarian red food colouring is available as an alternative.

  • Eggs may been from battery hens and not suitable. Most supermarkets and suppliers should be able to supply eggs and products which are not from a battery source. Also keep an eye out for albumen which if included on the ingredients may have been from battery eggs.

  • Anchovies are found in some brands of worcestershire sauce. Alternatives like Henderson's Relish or Geo Organics worcestershire sauce are suitable for vegetarians.

  • Chitin is produced from crab and shrimp shells.

  • Whey and whey powder are invariably by products of the cheese making process which mainly uses animal rennet.

  • Stock may have been made using beef, chicken or fish stock. They are plenty of good vegetarian stocks available such as Marigold boullion.

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The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited, Fundraising Regulator logo
Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham WA14 4QG
Registered Charity No. 259358 (England and Wales),
Registered Company No. 00959115 (England and Wales)


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The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited, Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham WA14 4QG
Registered Charity No. 259358, Registered Company No. 959115 (England and Wales)

Fundraising Regulations