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5 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian That Aren't

Animal products sneak into even the most seemingly vegetarian foods.


Being a vegetarian should be simple enough - just don't eat meat, right? Unfortunately it can be slightly trickier than you may think, with animal products sneaking into even the most seemingly vegetarian foods.

Whether you're cooking for a veggie friend or are trying to navigate a plant-based diet yourself, here are five foods you think would be vegetarian but are far from it. 

1. Cheese

There are some cheeses which are always made using animal rennet, for example, Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano). In order to be called ‘Parmesan’ this has to be produced according to traditional methods which use calf rennet, an enzyme taken from the stomach lining of a calf. 

Other non-veggie friendly cheeses include Gorgonzola and Grana Padano. 

2. Beer and wine

Some beer brands use isinglass (fish bladders) during the brewing process to clarify their drinks, while some ciders are fined using gelatine.

Many wines are also filtered through animal derived products to remove yeast or cloudiness, so it's best to ensure you are buying a wine that is specifically suitable for vegetarians. 

Barnivore.com is a fantastic resource for checking if a wine is suitable for veggies or vegans. 

Let the weekend begin 🍷😀

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3. Mousse

While homemade versions are generally fine due to fresh ingredients providing the mousse-like texture, mousse on sale in stores and supermarkets usually contain gelatine, so always check the ingredients. 

4. Pesto

Again, that pesky Parmesan! Unless store-bought pesto specifically says it's vegetarian then don't take the risk. 

Making it at home? Try using vegetarian "Parmesan-style" cheese or nutritional yeast instead.

5. Worcestershire Sauce

Anchovies are used in many Worcestershire sauces (including the beloved Lee & Perrins brand) that's used to add some spice to Bloody Mary's and some sauces in restaurants. 

Several brands sell anchovy-free varieties of Worcestershire sauce, often labelled as vegetarian or vegan.