Turns out, there are hidden ingredients and food processing steps that may make foods you presumed were vegan actually contain small amounts of animal byproducts. This is due to trace elements and additives used when making certain foods.

This may depress you (as in, wait, I thought I was eating vegan when I chose the pasta with red sauce—hold the cheese!), so we're sending it with a warning label. If you're trying to avoid ALL animal products (aka live a strictly vegan lifestyle) then this is relevant to you. However, if you are leaning into plants and living a more plant-based life, and are not concerned with trace elements of animal products in your food supply that end up on your plate, then simply file this under: Good to know.

For instance, casein, a dairy byproduct that makes cheese so addictive, could still creep its way into foods that have nothing to do with dairy.

Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

If you are concerned, allergic to dairy, or have an aversion to harming animals to provide human food, then read on. This interesting piece from America's Test Kitchen's excellent blog by the same name, provides need-to-know info on food manufacturing techniques, and gives you an alternative to the non-vegan options, so at least you'll know where to turn for a healthier non-animal choice—which is better for your health and that of animals.

The three foods to watch out for are sugar, pasta and wine. Most sugar is likely filtered through animal bone char to bleach it. Certain pastas may be made with eggs. And wine could be made with agents including casein, albumin (a protein), gelatin, and isinglass (fish bladder–used to filter sediment). For more details and alternatives to these products (like brown sugar, for instance) you will want to read the whole story here. And if you are seeking the real deal on what is or is not vegan, check out this app, Is it Vegan?

And we just found out, as an aside, that if you want to eat a purely vegan version of the Impossible Burger at Burger King you don't just have to hold the cheese and the mayo. You need to ask them to cook it on a different grill. Our experience is that if you ask the server to kindly cook it on one of the grills that's not used for meat products, they will usually accommodate you if they can. Talk about having it your way!

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