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Knowing What Contains Animal Products

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/6/2011

A vegan lifestyle is hard for those who do not know what contain actual animal ingredients. Learn about a few of the more unknown animal containing products.

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    Using Animals

    For many people the industries involved in factory farming for meat or any other animal products are too damaging to the environment to justify any involvement. More and more people are beginning a vegan lifestyle in response, which eliminates any and all animal products from use. This can be a very difficult process because it is often hard to identify what has animal products in it. Here are some of the most common items that contain animal ingredients.

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    Gelatin

    One of the most commonly overlooked items is gelatin. This substance comes from ligaments or bones of livestock, and is in a number of food and household products. These include candle wax, fruit gelatin, film, vitamin pills, and many types of candy. There are a number of alternatives such as seaweed, fruit pectin, and cotton gum.

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    Glycerin

    Glycerin, commonly found in soaps and plastics, is usually produced with some sort of animal fat. There are now a number of vegetable types by products that will produce a glycerin like substance.

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    Condiments

    Many types of food or ingredients added to food in preparation and serving contain animal products. Honey is one of the most obvious but not normally considered items, which is a substance that is produced by bees, and also included royal jelly. Conventionally produced molasses aids animal fatty oils to reduce the production foam when processing, but this tends to not be the case with organically produced molasses. Agave nectar is often used as an alternative to both of these.

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    Milk Products

    Though it is obvious that milk is not part of a strict vegan diet but certain things from milk are added to a lot of “non-dairy" items. Whey protein is in quite a bit of baked good preparation, but a similar substance can be extracted from soy beans. Rennet is an enzyme that often comes from the stomachs of cows and other livestock and is put in things like “dairy free" cheeses. There are a number of vegetable based substitutes available now. Milk proteins are often used in cosmetic products, so make sure to find items that use vegetable proteins instead.

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    Vitamins

    Conventional dietary supplements and vitamins commonly use animal products in different parts of their development. Vitamin A, which is often isolated and included into a number of cosmetic items, is usually derived from various animal organs. A whole variety of Vitamin B, D, and H all have common animal sources. The best way to approach this problem is to look for specially labeled vitamins that indicate they only have plant sources. This is also true of biotin, riboflavin, and many omega oils.

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    Linens

    Common clothing contains large amounts of fibers that come from animals. Silk, which comes from silk worms, and wool, which spun from sheep, are the most obvious of these. This is not a hard transition to make, just make a list of the type of materials you need to avoid and look our for those while you are shopping.

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    Insulin

    The medical field tends to be more saturated than most with animal sourced ingredients. Insulin used to treat diabetes usually comes from a pig, so ask for synthetics and better nutritional alternatives to prescription insulin.