If you’re jumping on the vegan train – whether it’s short-term or a lifelong choice – we first want to congratulate you. Not only will you feel healthier following a plant-based diet, but you’re also being kind to animals. Kudos to you!
But beware: There are foods out there you would never suspect to be non-vegan. Marshmallows and Gummi Bears are popular examples. These are both made with gelatin, a colorless substance derived from animal collagen.
Depending where you shop, your fruits, baking sugar and even peanuts may not be vegan. Here’s our list of five disturbing, unsuspecting items to watch out for.
1. Apples: Snow White isn’t the only one who should worry about biting into an apple. See those bright and shiny apples at the market? Chances are they are coated with shellac, made from a resin secreted by bugs. Shellac keeps moisture in fruit, prevents bruising and extends shelf life. Read more about how other sneaky non-vegan products touch your fruit here.
2. Bananas: Vegans won’t be going bananas over this: A new spray-on coating made to lengthen shelf life contains animal parts. At a 2012 National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society convention, scientists revealed a spray that will keep bananas from ripening for an extra 12 days. The coating includes chitosan, a derivative of shrimp and crab shells. Our suggestion? Buy organic bananas and enjoy them right away.
3. White Sugar: Sugar may not be so sweet after all. Bone char is used to de-color the sugar. During the refining process, bones are heated at high temperatures in an oxygen-depleted atmosphere. For baking alternatives, buy unrefined sugar or organic agave nectar to be on the safe side.
4. Booze: Hate to break it to you. Your favorite beer or wine may include gelatin or even fish bladder. For instance, the popular Barefoot brand contains both animal and fish gelatin in its wine making process. To make sure your Happy Hour drink is vegan-friendly, check out http://www.barnivore.com/. This helpful site contains an A-Z vegan and non-vegan beer, wine and liquor list.
5. Peanuts: As much as we (and elephants!) enjoy peanuts, some brands aren’t animal-free. Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts contain gelatin to help keep the spices intact. Fortunately, you can always buy peanuts in bulk and get creative by sprinkling in your own seasonings.
As you continue your vegan adventure, don’t be discouraged. Part of the journey is educating yourself and learning what’s animal-friendly. A safe bet is to stay away from processed food, eat as natural as possible and purchase organic goods whenever you get a chance. In the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.