5 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian Or Vegan But Aren't

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Without proper planning, it can be challenging to eat a healthy and balanced vegetarian or vegan diet. There are specific nutrients you need to be aware of — including iron, calcium and vitamins B12 and D — and you may find yourself reading a lot of nutrition labels to figure out which foods have which nutrients. While there are obvious offenders to a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are some seemingly innocent foods that don’t quite make the cut. Here’s a list of five common foods you thought were vegan or vegetarian but, surprisingly, are not.

1. Refried Beans Together, rice and beans create a complete protein, so eating beans along with your vegan rice at the Mexican restaurant can be a healthy choice for the vegan diet. Unfortunately, many recipes call for adding lard to bean preparations — especially refried bean dishes. Ensure that your beans are vegan before ordering. If lard is added to refried beans, other choices like black beans may be lard-free.

Related: 13 Energy-Boosting Winter Smoothies

2. Non-Dairy Creamer Commonly, creamer is marked non-dairy, but can also include milk products. How is this possible? The Food and Drug Administration’s regulations on food labeling allow “non-dairy” products to include ingredients derived from milk, as long as labeling also cites the use of milk products. Several brands of non-dairy creamer often contain milk-derived ingredients like sodium caseinate. Before using that suspect powdered creamer in the auto mechanic’s waiting room or at the office’s coffee bar, make sure to check the ingredient list.

3. Parmesan Cheese This subtly flavored cheese is anything but vegetarian. Parmesan is manufactured with an enzyme used to separate milk into curds and whey. Said enzyme is derived from animal rennet — specifically calf rennet — which comes from the lining of calf stomachs. Other cheeses, including Gruyere and Gorgonzola, also use rennet, so be sure to check the ingredient list or consult with the chef at restaurants. Some cheeses are manufactured with liquid vegetable rennet derived from plant-based or microbial sources. 

4. Spanish Rice Mexican cuisine is chock-full of fresh vegetables in vibrant colors and is an excellent choice for the vegan diet. A serving of salsa has 15 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and a host of other nutrients, including vitamins A, B and D and iron, calcium and magnesium. But watch out for Spanish rice, which is typically prepared with chicken stock. Also consider other vegan choices: guacamole, vegetable fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas and taco salad (hold the cheese and make sure the refried beans are not cooked in lard).

Related: How to Stock a Gluten-Free Kitchen

5. Candy The candy store is a carnival of bright colors, textures…and animal parts? Candies, such as gummy bears, marshmallows, candy corn and Starburst, often contain gelatin, an ingredient derived from animal sources. According to Lynette Astaire, lifestyle expert and author of “Forever 21: Juice Detoxing for Health + Wealth + Eternal Youth,” “Gelatin is an animal-derived ingredient that slips into so many things we don’t realize. It’s what makes marshmallows un-vegan, and gummy bears, sauces, dessert frosting and even some medications have it.” 

The original article “7 Foods You Thought Were Vegan or Vegetarian But Aren’t" appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM

By Sara Jayne Crow

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