I imagine there's a (hopefully) short list of items that may appear innocuous on a food label which are in fact of animal origin in same way. Ones I'm aware of include casein (to clarify beer) and gelatin (to make jellies stable).

Are there any other ingredients I should watch out for if I want to avoid inadvertently ingesting meat? What are they?

Clarification: ingredients I'm looking for come from part of an animal that died (like meat), or the inside an animal, like eggs and milk.

  • 1
    Could you please clarify this a little? I assume you mean any ingredients that are from an animal and the animal has to die for? An example for this - where you don't eat meat, but the animal has to die for getting it - would be animal lab-ferment (to produce certain sorts of cheese). Taking everything into account, I assume the list gets unfortunately rather long.
    – Florian
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 20:07
  • @Florian fair point, hopefully the edit helps Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


Source: Hidden Animal Ingredients in Foods (dummies.com), slightly modified and extended.

Can be vegan, or animal based:

Glucose (dextrose) - Animal tissues and fluids (some glucose can come from fruits)

Glycerides (mono-, di-, and triglycerides) - Glycerol from animal fats or plants

Lactic acid - An acid formed by bacteria acting on sugar, often lactose.

Lecithin - Phospholipids from animal tissues, plants, and egg yolks

Oleic acid (oleinic acid) - Animal tallow

Rennin, rennet - Produced by microbes, or extracted from calves stomachs.

Stearic acid (octadecanoic acid) - Tallow, other animal fats and oils. Sometimes made from cocoa butter or shea butter.

Vegetarian, but not vegan:

Albumin - The protein component of egg whites

Casein (caseinate) - A milk protein

Lactose (saccharum lactin, D-lactose) - Milk sugar

Lutein - Deep yellow coloring from marigolds or egg yolks

Whey - Watery liquid that separates from the solids in cheese-making

Neither Vegan Nor Vegetarian:

Carmine (carmine cochineal or carminic acid) - Red coloring made from a ground-up insect

Fish Sauce - Common ingredient in Thai cooking that is almost never listed on the menu

Gelatin - Protein from bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin of animals (sometimes gelatin is vegetarian and made from artificial ingredients)

Isinglass - Gelatin from the air bladder of sturgeon and other freshwater fish (Often used to filter Alcoholic beverages)

Pepsin - Enzyme from pigs’ stomachs

Suet - Hard white fat around kidneys and loins of animals

Tallow - Solid fat of sheep and cattle separated from the membranous tissues

  • Lactic acid can often be vegan, as lactobacillus occurs in the air and in a lot of food (yogurt, sourdough).
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 13:15
  • 2
    I think it's pretty rare for glucose to come from animal sources?
    – Zanna
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 16:37

In addition to those listed above:

  • Some flavour enhancers. While MSG and its derivatives are considered usually plant based, this is not the case with guanylic or inosinic acid compounds, which are often made from meat or fish extracts.

  • Vitamin fortifications in drinks - fish-based carrier substances are often not listed since they are considered a part of the "vitamin" ingredient.

  • Any "natural flavouring" that isn't further specified

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