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Front Page » September 22, 2011 » Focus » Vegetarian? Be careful of food claims
Published 1,157 days ago

Vegetarian? Be careful of food claims


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Vegetarians and vegans face the challenge of finding foods that fit with their lifestyles and ideals. There are many foods that aren't vegetarian- or vegan-friendly but might appear to be so. That's because these foods contain certain ingredients that are largely animal-based products.

Here are some ingredients used in common foods that can be troublesome.

*Rennet. Sometimes called rennin, this is an enzyme used in the making of cheese. It is often derived from mammal stomachs, such as the fourth stomach in cows. Rennet is used to coagulate milk products so that they turn into the curds that make many different cheeses. Some cheesemakers offer vegetarian alternatives that rely on vegetable or microbial enzymes. Rennet may not only be in cheese. It might be an ingredient in some chocolate candy bars as well.

*Gelatin. Gelatin is made from the structural protein called collagen that is found in many animals. Most gelatin is derived from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hooves, and collective tissues. Gelatin is obviously in gelatin desserts, but can also be found in puddings, whipped creams (to stabilize them), and marshmallows.

*Albumin. This is the protein component of egg whites. Albumin is added to thicken or add texture to foods. Many baked goods or icings contain albumin through the addition of cream of tartar, which is a powdered albumin product.

*Lard. Different foods are cooked in animal lard rather than vegetable oils. It's best to check with a restaurant or the packaging of a processed product to see if a food was fried or cooked in lard.

*Isinglass. This is gelatin from the air bladder of certain freshwater fish. It can be used to clarify some alcoholic beverages, including wine.

*Lanolin. This is a waxy substance made from sheep's wool. It can be found in chewing gum, ointments and cosmetics.

*Tallow. Also known as oleic acid or oleinic acid, this substance is made from the solid fat of sheep and cattle separated from the membranous tissues. It can be used in margarines, soaps, ice creams, spice flavoring for baked goods, and other food products.

*Royal jelly. This is a substance formed by the glands of bees. It is now being touted as a very important natural health food for it's antioxidant properties.

*Caesin. This is another milk protein that coagulates with the addition of rennet. It is used in many creams, cheeses and dairy products.

*Bone char. Sugar is bleached using a process of running it through bone char, sometimes refered to as natural carbon. You'll have to read the packaging to determine if it's in there.

*Cochineal, carminic acid or carmine. This is the pigment that makes red candies red. Practically anything colored red is made with this ingredient, which comes from the female Dactylopius coccus costa, or cochineal insect ... a type of beetle.

*L. Cysteine. This enzyme is used as a dough conditioner in many products, including doughnuts and bagels, particularly those from fast-food giants. This enzyme is made from the feathers of ducks and chickens.

*Chicken and beef fats. Even seemingly vegetarian and vegan foods can contain meat. That's because beef and chicken fats and flavorings are used in everything from barbecue flavored potato chips to vegetable soups.

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