Lifestyle

Six foods and ingredients to avoid if you’re on a vegan diet

30/01/2022

There are many reasons why people choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. A balanced meat-, fish-, dairy-free diet can be very healthy and nutritious. They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. However, it is not always easy to know what you can eat in a balanced vegan diet.

Fresh fruits are ideal in a vegan diet

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

It’s a known fact that vegetarians and vegans have to be careful with the foods they eat. Everyone needs to be mindful of their diets, but for people who do not eat any foods of animal origin or derived from animals, it is especially significant. Some examples of common foods that vegetarians exclude from their diet include meat, poultry, or fish products. For vegans, the list includes also eggs, dairy products, mayonnaise and honey.

There are other foods that may surprise you. You may not realize that ingredients containing animal by-products should be avoided as well. In this article, I will provide six foods and ingredients that you should avoid when following a vegan diet.

6 foods you should avoid if you’re vegan

Worcester Sauce

Worcester sauce is a popular ingredient that you can find in many dishes. However, not everyone knows that it also contains anchovies and anchovy extracts. Although it might be hard to believe, a popular brand of Worcestershire sauce that you can find at any supermarket is among the top 5 foods that vegetarians should avoid eating. Since this is one of those ingredients that can be easily overlooked on a food label if you don’t know what to look for, it’s important for vegans (and those who are allergic to fish) to be diligent and read through the entire list of ingredients before deciding whether or not to purchase a product. A good way to avoid this ingredient in your diet is to opt for vegan Worcester sauces, which are usually made with mushrooms.

Beverages That Contain Gelatin

Gelatin is an ingredient found in many popular beverages, such as soft drinks. However, it can also be found in alcoholic beverages, which you may not realize because the labels are usually not clear about which ones contain gelatin. Although this ingredient is derived from collagen that comes from animal tissue or bone instead of actual meat products, it can still be harmful to your vegetarian diet so you might want to avoid it. While you may be able to find a few beverages that do not contain gelatin, it can be difficult to find one that offers a clear list of ingredients.

Packaged Bread with Lecithin

Lecithin is an additive that is used in many types of foods, including grains and bread, but what most people don’t realize is that lecithin is usually derived from egg yolks or soybeans. This means that many popular yeast breads sold in stores will have this ingredient even if it is not listed on the label. As a vegetarian, this makes it all the more important to read labels carefully and do some thorough research before purchasing a food item. An easier way to avoid this ingredient in packaged products is to opt for bread that is sold fresh, rather than the packaged variety.

Protein Bars with Whey Or Casein Products

Protein bars can be very beneficial when you want to eat on the go since they are usually portable and easy to take along when you have little time for snacks in between meals. It might also be tempting to eat them as a meal replacement, but many of these bars contain whey or casein ingredients. For those who are unaware, whey and casein are both milk-based proteins that come from lactating cows. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian you will have to avoid any foods that include either one of these products. Instead, opt for vegan-friendly protein bars that contain only soya, brown rice, or hemp protein.

Canned Figs

Most vegans know that fruits such as apricots, raspberries, and strawberries contain animal by-products due to the use of insect secretions during the pollination process. These fruits are not included in this list because they can be easily avoided. What you may not realize is that canned figs also contain an ingredient derived from insects known as cochineal, which is a red dye usually derived from beetles. If you are curious, the label on most foods that contain this ingredient will say “cochineal color” or something similar. If you wish to avoid this ingredient, it is best to eat figs fresh or buy them dried.

Vegetable Broth

While many types of vegetable broth are vegan-friendly, not all of them are. If you have already checked the label and it doesn’t contain any meat ingredients, the next thing to look for is an animal product known as gelatin. Most vegetable broths will have this ingredient listed on their labels since it is used to give the broth a thicker texture. Unfortunately, gelatin can often come from animals, which means that it is something that vegetarians should avoid in their diet. Fortunately, there are several suitable substitutes you can use in place of this ingredient when making dishes with vegetable broth, including adding extra salt or using flour or cornstarch instead.

Illuminated green sign

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

Veganism has many benefits for the environment and of course also for your health, as we already discussed at the beginning of this post. For those of you who have made a conscious decision to switch their diet from carnivorous to plant-based, a clear knowledge of food ingredients will help you stick to the new lifestyle. While there are plenty of foods that you can enjoy in a vegan diet, remember these six foods should be avoided.

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