We have somehow figured out the most obscure and complicated ways to make certain products. Animal-derived parts and ingredients can be found in places you would never think to look. Companies that make these products know that if given the information, people will typically choose to use a product that doesn’t involve a weird body part of an animal. So, these corporations have learned to provide a list of ingredients that, to an untrained eye, seem harmless.
As animal lovers and conscious consumers, we try to avoid using products that cause any harm to other living beings at all costs – but there are many items that you would never even think twice about whether they contain animal ingredients or not!
Here is a list of ten products that contain bizarre and hidden animal ingredients and how to replace them.
1. Plastic Bags
The “slip agent,” or surface lubricant, used to keep plastic bags from sticking together is stearic acid. This long-chain fatty acid is derived from the rendering of beef fat. If you weren’t already convinced it was time to cut out plastic shopping bags completely, this should help convince make it easy to invest in some reusable bags.
2. Fabric Softener
Fabric softener is another product with rendered animal fat hiding in its ingredient list. Tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride, a common ingredient in these softeners, turns out to be a ridiculously complicated way of saying ammonia mixed with the rendered fat of cows, sheep, and horses. This chemical is found in nearly all fabric softeners, so you’ll have to go out of your way to purchase a cruelty-free form to be safe!
3. Shampoo and Conditioner
According to PETA’s list of chemicals that contain animal products, there are over 20 potential animal-derived chemicals that can be found in your shampoo or conditioner. Unfortunately, many of those chemicals can be derived from either plants or animals making it difficult to determine exactly what you are buying. Keratin is a newer trend in the hair-care front. This chemical can be derived from hooves, animal hair, horns, scales, and other keratinized animal parts. Your safest bet when shopping for shampoo and conditioner is to choose cruelty-free products.
Glycerin is a common ingredient in many kinds of toothpaste and what gives the paste-like quality to it. Turns out the glycerin (which can be derived from plants), is cheaper to derive from the fat taken out of animal bones. Not only does it seem downright gross to brush your teeth with bone marrow, but recently glycerin has been under scrutiny in the dental field. It is suspected that the chemical actually demineralizes your teeth! So, next time you’re at the store, aim for a toothpaste with the animal-friendly rabbit logo.
Refined sugar is not known to be the healthiest item to ingest. This white sugar is not the natural form of our favorite sweetener. To get the super-refined, white look we are used to seeing U.S. companies filter cane sugar through cow bone char. Luckily, it is pretty easy to avoid this refining process. Buying the unrefined version of sugar is not only better for you, but way better for our cow friends. If you need white sugar, there are brands that use alternative refining processes. You can find these brands here.
6. Beer and Wine
Potentially the most devastating items to make this list, many beers and wines use animal products in their filtration process. Isinglass is a membrane taken from the bladders of certain fish. This membrane is used to filter the yeast extracts out of some of our favorite weekend drinks. Don’t fret! Barnivore is a guide for finding the best vegan beers, wines, and liquors.
7. Gummy Candies
Gelatin has started to gain notoriety as a non-animal-friendly product. Gelatin is derived from the collagen in animal bones, connective tissue, and skin. It is often used as a thickening and/or stabilizing agent. This chemical is most often found in gummy candies, but is also used in candy such as Altoids and Starburst, not to mention Jello!
Musk is a scent used in many perfumes and colognes. Because everyone wants to smell like the “dried secretion from the genitals of otter, beaver, musk deer, and civet cat genitals.” Many scents are starting to use the synthetic version of musk, but you still have to be cautious of what you are buying. Since most fragrances don’t list their ingredients, however, it is easiest to stick to all-natural and cruelty-free versions.
Although the primary ingredient in most condoms – latex – comes from plants, most condoms also contain casein and glycerin. Casein is derived from a milk protein and glycerin, as noted above, is derived from the fat in animal bones, not sexy ingredients by any means. Not to mention there is also the option of lambskin condoms made from the intestines of sheep. There are cruelty-free options, though. Glyde has a 100 percent vegan product and there are other options as well.
Goodbye childhood! That smell we so strongly associate with the joys of coloring is actually the smell of stearic acid or processed beef fat. This chemical is used in crayons because it allows them to have their waxy, solid consistency.
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Ice Cream Has Meat in It? 7 ‘Vegetarian’ Foods That Actually Contain Meat Products
When you became a vegetarian, you quickly learned it wasn’t just about skipping pepperoni on that pizza. You have to start scanning labels for ingredients like capric acid, tallow, rennet, glycerin, whey, suet, stereate, and emulsifiers – because eating animal fat by any other name would be just as carnivorous. What you may not know is that plenty of common foods widely considered to be veg-friendly (or perhaps we should say veg- adjacent) actually contain animal fat, not just dairy fat. That means flesh. Read on to learn more.
Ice cream is the one comfort food that temporarily heals all wounds. Unfortunately, you may be noshing on Bessie under all that chocolate sauce. Many brands of ice cream contain capric acid, a fatty acid that’s obtained from animal fats. Check the label!
I hate to break it to you – I really do – but that chocolate sauce you pour over your sundaes may not be any better than the ice cream underneath it. Emulsifiers are present in chocolate, which may or may not be derived from animal fat. The problem is that most labels don’t specify the difference, so you’re better off sticking to ones that do.
Animal rennet is used in the production of many different kinds of cheese. What is animal rennet, you ask? It’s a coagulating enzyme that’s extracted from a freshly-slaughtered calf’s stomach. But, that doesn’t mean you have to struggle through a life without cheese. Just buy vegetarian cheese instead, which substitutes microbial or fungal enzymes for animal rennet.
Have you ever seen a pork tart behind the glass at your local café? You might want to take a closer look. Many pastries are prepared using lard, which is rendered fat from a pig’s abdomen or kidneys. Similar baked goods may also contain capric acid.
There’s no better way to appease an oral fixation than with a big lump of chewing gum, but gnawing on toothpicks might be a better option for vegetarians. If you see lanolin, stearic acid or glycerin on the label, you may as well snack on a stick of beef jerky. All of these ingredients are made from animal fat.
Ever wonder why you can’t just eat a handful of potato chips? I used to think it was the salt, until I discovered that many brands are soaked in tallow (fat from membranous tissue in cattle) before hitting the shelves at the grocery store. And, here you thought you were just chomping on some greasy, deep-fried potatoes. I find this to be incredibly unfair.
Believe it or not, hard candies like these aren’t entirely free of animal products, and many of them contain calcium stereate. This ingredient is actually derived from tallow, better known as animal fat.