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Chocolate mousse and 9 other surprising foods you thought were vegetarian, but aren’t

Take a closer look at some of your favourite foods, and you might be surprised to see some animal ingredients.

by: Katy Rose | 10 Jul 2018
chocolate mousse not vegetarian

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Long rambling labels of ingredients can be at best, boring and at worst, downright confusing. We investigated some familiar foods that seem as if they should be vegetarian, but actually contain animal derived products. 

Parmigiano Reggiano
Traditionally, and by law, true Italian Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet. Rennet is an enzyme extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach of young calves butchered for veal meat production.

Look out for: try local Parmesan-style cheeses that use vegetable substitutes such as “Non-Animal Rennet”

Worcestershire sauce
This tasty condiment made from vinegar, onions and molasses also contains anchovies. 

Look out for: Contains Anchovies

During the winemaking process substances are added to the wine to modify, adjust or stabilise the end product. Animal proteins are the best for this, and winemakers will use substances such as egg albumen (the white of the egg), casein (from dairy milk), gelatine (from animal bones and cartilage) and isinglass, a type of collagen extracted from the swim bladders of various fish. 

Look out for: wines clearly labelled as “vegan”


Flavoured yoghurts
Yoghurts often contain thickeners, especially if it is a low fat or fat free variant. Fruit flavoured and children’s yoghurts often contain animal gelatine. 
Look out for: E441, the E number code for animal gelatine

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Traditional basil pesto in the style of Pesto Genovese contains grated Parmigiano Reggiano. See above. 

Look out for: added cheese or cheese that is made using “Non Animal Rennet” 

Gummy bears

Gummy sweets often contain gelatin from an animal source such as from pork or beef. In addition, a common and vibrant red food colouring carmine, is used in a number of confectioneries. Carmine is extracted from the female Cochineal beetle. Yes, a bug. 

Look out for: E120, the red dye used as a food colouring E441

Beer is almost always clarified with isinglass, a fish derived protein. See Wine above. 

Look out for: beers clearly labelled as “Vegan”or “Suitable for vegetarians”

Chocolate mousse 
Store bought chocolate mousse is very often stabilised with animal derived gelatine. 

Look out for: E441, the E number code for animal gelatine

Marshmallows are a fun treat, but almost always contain animal gelatine.

Look out for: E441, the E number code for animal gelatine

Olive tapenade
Traditionally, tapenade contains anchovies. 

Look out for: Contains Anchovies

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