There are a few products on the market that aren’t suitable for vegetarians even though you might never think they aren’t. This just shows how little is known about the processes of making the food, the drinks and the clothes we enjoy.
There are so many reasons why people decide to become vegetarian, like health or ecological reasons. In this case, some might consider that a few things from the list are ok to eat/use and that is perfectly fine. It’s a choice at the end of the day and nobody else’s business.
At the same time, I think it’s better to know as much details as possible to make an informed decision. I am saying this because I would have avoided a few things in my list even if I wasn’t vegetarian.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 8+ years and only recently I discovered that not all beer, wine, cider are vegetarian. For the filtering process they use Isinglass also known as fish bladder. I had pints of Guinness without knowing. They announced that their beer will be vegan by the end of the year.
Luckily I prefer German beer, mostly unfiltered and that is vegetarian. I searched online to see which beers are vegetarian and most of the ones I like are.
Kosher wine is filtered with isinglass. Other types of alcohol are usually vegetarian, but not all.
Marshmallows, medicine and jellies
Marshmallows, some medicines, jellies and some of the supermarket mousse contain gelatin. Gelatin is a collagen obtained from various animal by-products, basically is made out of pig or cow feet/hoofs, boiled. On the package it can mentioned: pork gelatin, beef gelatin or gelatin. There is also fish gelatin, but not widely used.
The vegan option is agar agar, an amazing gelling agent made from seaweed, used in Japan for centuries. This gelatin is more versatile because of its setting temperatures, this makes it perfect for molecular gastronomy and it’s used in high end restaurants. It also sets faster. I’ve been using agar agar for cooking for a while and I can’t recommended it enough, I get it from Lakeland. There is also vegetarian gelatin from Dr. Oetker, seaweed based too.
Lipstick and red food
Some cosmetics will contain cochineal for their red colour. The same applies to some of the red coloured foods. If you don’t know, cochineal is crushed beetles. Another “yummy” moment, right?
For cosmetics the red can be chemical and the food can be coloured with beetroot colouring. A little research before buying a product is important, as there isn’t a “V” sign on the cosmetics, like with food. I was told by a beautician that only cheaper companies will use it and that is not true. £20 lipstick can contain cochineal, I would rather not disclose the name of the brand as their recipe might change.
I had an image in my mind of beautiful butterflies flying around while the loving workers are gathering the cocoons and weaving it in yarns. Well… it’s not as idyllic as that. The silk moths (they might be called silkworms, but they are moths) are killed before they leave their cocoons. This is done by suffocation with steam or heating them in an oven. This will ensure the fibres are coming out in one piece.
Almost all the cheese in Uk is vegetarian, but a small percentage is not. In the process of making the cheese is used rennet. Rennet can be sourced from the stomach of newly-born calves or new-born lambs for parmiggiano. It has to be a new-born as their stomach contains the required enzyme. The vegetarian rennet is fungal or bacterial. If on the package is mentioned microbial rennet, this means the cheese is vegetarian.
Cultured pearls, because farmed oysters are killed and the meat discarded or used.
I personally avoid leather. People often assume that it’s hard for me to buy shoes and handbags. In fact is quite easy as there are plenty of beautiful options at the same retailers that most people buy from anyway. It’s harder to get a vegan leather sofa and the same issue applies to the car seats. Even so, we ordered a sofa after Christmas and it should be delivered in a couple of weeks, I can’t wait. As for the car, so far we had 3 cars and all of them had fabric seats. I also don’t use bee venom products even though the bees aren’t killed to extract the venom. It’s not something I’m comfortable with using.