The Veggie Table: 8 Sneaky Foods Vegetarians Should Avoid

By: Janel Ovrut Funk

Red Wine Glass on White

Red Wine Glass on White [url=][img][/img][/url]

©Eric Hood

Eric Hood

Whether you're following a vegetarian diet or cooking for a veggie-inclined friend, it's a no-brainer that you want to stay away from foods that contain meat. But what about lesser-known animal ingredients? Many processed foods that seem veg-friendly may not be. Check out our list for foods you might not know about.

Worcestershire sauce – This sauce is usually used to spice up grilled or barbecued meats. But if you love a good Bloody Mary, it may be made with Worcestershire sauce, which includes anchovies in its ingredients. Fortunately, there are vegan versions out there, so grab a bottle and enjoy it on your veggie burgers, grilled tempeh, or in a homemade Bloody Mary.

Vegetable Pad Thai – This noodle dish is typically listed in the vegetarian section of Thai restaurant menus, but authentic Pad Thai is made with fish sauce. While a vegetarian sauce could be used, it’s in your best interest to double check before you place your order and wind up with something fishy.

Caesar dressing – This classic dressing is another anchovy-packed condiment that is typically used on a seemingly-vegetarian Caesar salad. Unless, of course, you find a tasty vegan or vegetarian version that satisfies your salad standards.

Refried beans –You probably know many  prepackaged refried beans are high in fat, but it’s actually animal lard that makes these beans bad for a vegetarian. There are many lard-free varieties out there. My favorite is Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Refried Black Beans (pictured).

Sweets made with gelatin – When I first went veg I knew that the animal ingredient gelatin was found in marshmallows and Jell-O, but after digging through ingredient lists, I found it is in other sweets, too. Some mint candy, yogurt, chewy fruit candy (like Skittles and Starburst). Gum with a hard shell contains gelatin, too.

Soy cheese – If you’re a vegetarian, you might still eat cheese and dairy products. But if you’re a vegan, you likely choose cheese alternatives, such as soy cheese. Many soy cheeses on the market contain the ingredient casein, which is a milk protein. Casein is used in cheese alternatives because it helps to bind and melt the cheese. There are casein-free options, like Teese Vegan Cheese that tastes great and melts, too!

Wine and beer - Not all wines and beers are made using animal products, but those that do might not list it on the label. No animal ingredients are present in the final beverage, but some beers and wines are refined using a product called isinglass, which comes from fish, or may be filtered with bone char. This handy guide will help you find vegan wine and beer. Cheers to that!

Gel-cap medications – Did you know that anything "gel-cap" contains gelatin? I sure didn’t. Look for non-gel-cap versions of the medication you’re prescribed and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

TELL US: Have you found any other vegetarian un-friendly foods that surprised you?

Janel Ovrut, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel. Catch up on her previous posts here.   Learn more about all our contributors »

Next Up

8 Foods You Should Be Keeping in Your Freezer

Your freezer is for more than preserving foods — it can enhance them, too!

8 Common Herb Gardening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Growing herbs is easy, if you avoid these basic blunders. Get advice for growing culinary herbs like basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill and more from herb gardening experts.

8 Things That Should Be On Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

Go past the everyday clean with these tips.

Why You Should Be Eating More Prebiotic Foods

These gut-healthy foods are just as important as probiotics.

8 Big-Batch Recipes You Should Make for the Long Weekend

We’ve got you covered from breakfast through dessert!

7 Foods We Should Eat More of in 2023

From zero-proof drinks to convenient weeknight sheet pan recipes, here’s what dietitians hope we’ll all eat more of in 2023.

All the Foods You Should Be Pairing with Pumpkin Beer

Get the best Food Network recipe to pair with your favorite fall brew.

7 Foods We Should Be Eating More of in 2022

Instead of buying into "superfoods," lean into foods that are convenient, nutritious and widely available.

10 Best Baby Products Food-Loving Parents Should Register For

These are all of the baby products I swear by as a new mom.