10 Foods that Are Surprisingly Not Vegan

If you're interested in veganism and trying to figure out what it's all about, or just beginning to dip your toes into the waters of a vegan diet, then you may have done some basic research about what foods you can have as a vegan. 

Vegan diets should basically be 100% plant-based and animal-free. Unlike vegetarian diets which are mainly plant-based but allow animal-based, dairy-products (e.g. cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc.)

You may already know that common foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes get the green light in a vegan diet. But what foods can't vegans eat aside from meat, fish and poultry? 

Some seemingly plant-based foods are more than meets the eye because they have been made with, or processed with small amounts of animal-based ingredients. Thankfully, many of these foods do have fully vegan alternatives available now, so it's a matter of checking the labels. 

In any case, here are 10 foods that are surprisingly not (always) vegan: 

1. Chocolate

While raw cacao beans are indeed vegan, milk chocolate and even dark chocolate can contain milk or milk-derived ingredients. Check the labels for avoid those that "contain milk" or look for dairy-free versions that also show a vegan indicia or logo. 

2. Veggie Burgers

There are an increasing number of veggie patties or faux meats becoming available on store shelves so it's important to always check the labels. Some patties may be vegetarian (not vegan) and contain eggs, butter or dairy ingredients.

3. Gummies

Most gummy candy and even gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, an ingredient made from animal tissue. Though they are limited, some vegan gummies do exist, so look for gelatin-free on the label along with a vegan logo. 

4. Some Breads

While some breads are vegan, basic white bread, challah, brioche and many sweet-type breads contain dairy ingredients like butter, milk and eggs. 

5. Worcestershire Sauce

Did you know some of the savory taste from this condiment sauce comes from anchovies (which are small fish)? Yep!  

6. Some Red Foods

Some processed products like red velvet cake mix, faux crab meat, strawberry yogurts or red juices may get their red color from carmine, an ingredient made from a type of cochineal insect. 

7. Miso Soup

While miso itself is vegan, the broth used to make this popular soup is often fish-based. When ordering, make sure you ask for miso made with vegetable broth instead.

8. Beer and Wine

Many beers and wines use an animal-based clarifying agent during the filtering process. Look for beers and wine with vegan and/or cruelty-free symbols on them or contact the company to confirm.

9. Marshmallows

Don’t worry marshmallow lovers, they are vegan options available now. But traditional marshmallows use gelatin, which is made from animals.

10. Caesar Dressing

Traditional recipes for this creamy and delicious dressing contain anchovies, which are small fish! There are vegan options available now though. 


Bottom line--always read the label when you are shopping for vegan items, especially the ones listed above. Check the ingredients for dairy or other non-vegan ingredients and also look for "vegan" or "animal cruelty-free" symbols. Lastly, you can always contact a company to make sure a product is 100% vegan. 


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