11 foods that surprisingly aren’t vegan

By Sarah Finnan

January 1, 2021 at 11:10am


Today marks the start of a new year. Which brings with it an onslaught of well-intentioned health resolutions – the likes of exercising more, eliminating alcohol for a given period of time or indulging in fewer sweet treats.

Another popular January phenomenon, one that has grown even more popular in recent years, is Veganuary – a movement that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January (or longer).

Easier said than done I’m sure you’ll agree. Especially when you find out that the following items are surprisingly NOT vegan.

Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert, nor do I pretend to be, so please consult an actual expert if you are considering this major dietary change.


Some people know about this one, some people don’t but if you’re planning on going plant-based then jellies and marshmallows are out. Ok not all jellies and marshmallows, but the vast majority of them. Why? Because they contain gelatin - a translucent, colourless (fairly flavourless) food ingredient derived from collagen that is taken from animal body parts.



This one may seem fairly obvious but it’s actually quite easy to forget that honey is in fact an animal product as it’s made by bees. Opt for maple syrup or agave instead.

Miso Soup

A lot of restaurants use a fish-based broth to make their miso so pay special attention if you’re trying to go vegan (or veggie).

Vegetable Soup

Just because you see the word vegetable does not mean that a product is completely vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. Homemade vegetable soup is fine obviously, as you know what’s going into it, but shop-bought can often include animal stock. Very annoying when you arrive home with what you presumed was a completely plant-based lunch.



Vegan alternatives are available but true authentic pesto is made with cheese so isn’t naturally vegan. It may not even be fully vegetarian if the parmesan used contains rennet (taken from the stomach lining of animals).


Turns out some alcohol - wines and beers in particular - are clarified using fish bladders, bone marrow and gelatin. Other non-vegan ingredients that some alcohols could include are honey, dairy, casein (made from milk) and egg whites. WHY DOES NO ONE TELL YOU THIS?


Again, not every jam, but some jams contain gelatin - seems to be a hidden ingredient in a lot of foods I like. The key is to look for jams with pectin rather than gelatin. Pectin is a vegan alternative that is made with fruit…so you don’t have to cut it out completely. Yay!

Dark Chocolate


While most dark chocolates don’t use dairy, there are some that still do. Try to stick to the better-quality options – those with a higher percentage of cocoa, as they’re usually dairy-free.

Fruit Juice

Even this one was a shock to me. Apparently, some brands of juice contain nutrient and vitamin additives that are derived from animals such as omega 3 oils (derived from fish) or vitamin D (obtained from lanolin from sheep’s wool). Sigh.

Chewing gum

Some brands contain…yep, you guessed it, gelatin. Is nothing safe?



Don’t worry, you don’t have to eliminate pasta (thank God, says you). Just be wary that most fresh pasta contains eggs, so stick with dry pasta which is generally vegan-friendly. Check the label to be sure to be sure.

More often than not, if a product is vegan it will tell you so... why do all the hard work and not shout about it? So, if you’re scouring the ingredients list but are still left unsure, odds are unless the word ‘vegan’ is in plain sight, it can’t be guaranteed as 100 per cent so.

If in doubt, leave it out.

The more you know eh?

Header image via Instagram/Natural Born Feeder 

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