Sneaky Non-Vegan Ingredients

Honey, honeycomb and honey dipper
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When following a vegan diet, it’s good to be aware of a few sneaky ingredients that may be lurking in foods. These are ingredients that are made of or obtained from non-vegan sources, usually as additives or fillers. They aren’t as easy to spot as the obvious no-no’s like meat, eggs, and milk, but these ingredients are still derived from animals, and thus are generally avoided on a vegan diet. Here’s a quick list of a few ingredients that you may not realize aren’t vegan, or even vegetarian.


This ingredient can be found in candies and many beauty products. Usually found in lip balms or lotions, beeswax is a common ingredient that vegans avoid. The wax is produced by worker bees in hives and is used to build honeycombs, and therefore is not vegan.


Casein is a protein derived from animal’s milk (usually cow's or sheep) and is the main component in cheese making. Sometimes casein will be listed as an ingredient on non-dairy food items -- such as soy cheese or coffee creamer -- but many non-dairy items exist which do not contain casein. Be sure to read labels and check for this additive. Many vegan types of cheese exist such as Daiya, Follow Your Heart, and GoVeggie!, all casein free. This ingredient is usually listed as Casein, Calcium Caseinate, or Sodium Caseinate.

Confectioner’s Glaze

Also listed as Resinous Glaze, Shellac, Natural Glaze, or Pure Food Glaze, this glaze comes from the hardened resinous material secreted by the lac insect, mainly harvested from the trees in which these insects reside.

You can most likely find this ingredient on candies that have a super glossy sheen, which is a result of confectioner's glaze.


Derived from animal collagen, gelatin is a colorless odorless gelling agent often found in candies or other processed foods, particularly marshmallows, fruit snacks and jelly candies.


Isinglass is a clarifying agent used in wine making and beer brewing. It is derived from fish bladders and is therefore not vegan.

L. Cysteine

This ingredient, often sourced from feathers or human hair, is a dough conditioner listed in many pre-packaged breads and baked goods. Check labels carefully for this ingredient that may be hiding in the ingredient lists of many white and wheat bread.


Whey is a common ingredient in many foods, especially bread and candies, and is a by-product of cheese making. Whey is the remaining liquid once milk has been curdled, or churned, and then strained. Once milk has been curdled, it easily separates into curd (solid) and whey (liquid). Whey protein is often added to many nutritional supplements and protein shakes.