Whether you’re entertaining vegan guests, or thinking about making the change yourself, these common ingredients are ones to look out for! If you need more vegan inspiration, check out our Vegan section
What can and can’t I cook for vegan guests?
Most varieties of shop-bought pesto will contain Parmesan or similar hard cheese, meaning that they are not suitable for vegans.
Honey is not considered vegan, as it is the method by which bees conserve food for poor weather and the winter months and is fundamental to the wellbeing of the hive.
Yeast is technically alive, but since it is a fungus and non-sentient it is considered perfectly allowable under a vegan diet. (Plus, the air we breathe contains natural, wild yeasts anyway!)
Many jellies, marshmallows and chewing gum contain gelatine. Others are coated in shellac or contain a red dye called carmine, which is made from cochineal insects.
Dark chocolate is usually vegan. However, some varieties contain animal-derived products such as whey, milk fat, milk solids, clarified butter or nonfat milk powder, so be sure to check the label.
In itself, palm oil is a vegetable product that does not need to involve animals, and therefore is suitable for vegans. However, bad practices within the industry and the devastation of natural habitats have a serious negative impact on many species, so many vegans choose to avoid products containing palm oil.
Common non-vegan ingredients to look out for on labels:
Casein, albumen, bone char, butter fat, carmine, cochineal extract, gelatine, lactose, lard, l-cysteine, mono and di-glycerides, shellac, vitamin D3, whey powder, tallow, suet, isinglass, castoreum, animal-derived enzymes, beeswax, and certain additives including E120, E322, E422, E 471, E542, E631, E901 and E904.
If you do decide to go vegan full-time, you will need a Vitamin B12 supplement, as this nutrient is found only in animal foods. B12 deficiencies can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, nerve problems, and depression. You may also need to consider an Iron supplement, as the non-heme Iron found in plants is less readily absorbed than the Heme Iron sourced from animal-based foods.