If you\'re a vegan, do some research - and check labels!

If you're a vegan, do some research - and check labels!Getty images

As most of us know, to be classed as a vegan you have to avoid animal products of any kind. Simple, right? Well, you might be surprised to learn that some familiar foods and drinks are not very vegan-friendly after all.

From juices and food colouring to chocolate and soups, here are just some favourites that could contain animal products. 


Some juices contain added omega-3 oils - which have lots of health benefits, including supporting brain function and helping to reduce cardiovascular disease - but could be derived from fish bones. Pure orange juice clearly wouldn’t have this issue but you'll need to double check labels to ensure a juice is vegan-friendly. Alternatively, you could buy some oranges and start squeezing!


Margarine was brought in as a cheap alternative to butter and still used in a lot of confectionary products. The majority of margarine is vegan but sometimes this isn’t always the case, as some products may contain buttermilk or milk protein whey. Make sure to check the ingredients list before you buy.

Red Food Colouring 

Some food colourings contain an ingredient called carmine, a deep red pigment which is also referred to as crimson lake, cochineal and natural red. Made with the bodies and eggs of parasitic insects, it can be found in everything from cheeses and cakes to yoghurt and fizzy drinks - and even beauty products. If you are looking for a 100% natural red food colouring, try juicing some beetroots and adding it to your dishes to make them 'pop'. 

Jellies and Marshmallows

Jellies contain gelatin which is made from bones and pork skin. It is used as a thickening agent which sets the product, giving jelly that distinct squidgy texture. Marshmallows use both egg whites and gelatin to give them a light and fluffy consistency. You can now find recipes using aquafaba (chickpea-water) as an alternative and vegan-friendly jellies and marshmallows can also be found in most health stores.

Worcestershire Sauce

It is a product that always seems to be in your cardboard, perfect for adding a kick to your shepherd's pie, Welsh rarebit or even a Bloody Mary cocktail. The original recipe, which is left to ferment for two years, contains anchovies. However, there is a vegan alternative on the market for anyone who can't live without it.


Guinness became vegan-friendly just last year but there are a lot of wines and beers that don't get the vegan thumbs up. Some are created using a process called isinglass, which uses the bladders of fish in the filtration process. There are also some drinks, such as ciders and wine, that use gelatin or casein (a milk product) in the filtration process. Most companies list their ingredients on their website so take a look first.


While bread can be comprised of four ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast, but some commercial bread may contain several other ingredients too. Whey, a by-product left over from cheese making, can commonly be found in a lot of manufactured bread and candies. 

Dark Chocolate

The cocoa bean is used to produce chocolate is 100% vegan-friendly but some producers add milk or milk products to their dark chocolate for a smoother taste. There is a lot of vegan-friendly chocolate on the market, thankfully, so be sure to check the ingredient list for dairy, whey and casein.

Miso Soup 

A bowl of miso soup can be a great way to start a meal but this delicious clear broth is not vegan-friendly in many cases. A lot of miso broths are made out of dashi, a fish-based broth. Miso paste which is used to make the soup is vegan-friendly though so why not make your own miso soup at home.