Are you ever really sure that the lettuce sandwhich you're eating in an anti-meat protest is actually beef-free?
MM reveals what popular consumer products are unsafe for vegetarians, despite being seemingly green.
Sorry veggie Guinness drinkers, but your Friday night treat isn’t made in a meat-free zone. It seems that when the brew is clarified, it’s treated with isinglass.
‘What on earth is isinglass?’ I hear you say with wonder in your eyes. It is in fact a commodity obtained from the dried out bladder of a fish. Tasty. Or not perhaps.
It’s probably bad enough that it comes from a fish let alone from a fish’s bladder. That’s perhaps a double obscenity to anyone trying to lead a vegetarian life.
Isinglass is also used in the production of many fine wines, so make sure you’re drink-aware next time you fancy a tipple.
Don’t panic veggies. I’m not about to tell you that you may never enjoy a bean-y brunch again, but you should be aware that many a bean is baked with a big old chunk of pork to enhance its flavour.
Just make sure you grab the tin with the veggie trademark that makes us feel all warm and happy inside, to be sure that there were no pigs in sight on your beans’ journey from field to plate (unless they were living a free-range life in an adjoining field, covered in mud and eating from a trough).
It’s the cheese in it. Parmigiano-Reggiano (to be spoken in an Italian accent) – or parmesan to you or I – is made with rennet, a concoction of enzymes which every mammal produces in their stomach to digest their mummy’s milk.
To make matters worse, most traditional cheese makers use a baby cow’s stomach to source this vital ingredient which solidifies this tangy cheese. It’s pretty easy to make your own pesto though! You can just leave the cheese out and save a few calves. Consider your good deed of the day done and spread the veggie word.
Caesar salad dressing
I’m afraid Caesar salad dressing is another no-go for all true veggies, especially the sort found in all of the lovely restaurants we eat in.
Some varieties of this dressing contain anchovies and bacon so your best bet is to check with the restaurant if you’re eating out. In general, a Caesar salad is covered in parmesan and Worcestershire sauce (another sneakily non-veggie sauce), so it’s perhaps a dish to avoid unless you make it yourself.
Too many meaty ingredients trying to catch out the unsuspecting vegetarian diner.
Shop-bought cakes and biscuits
This one’s a bit controversial. As a general rule, the reason that sugar is white is because it is filtered through burned cattle bones (a sufficiently sinister image, even for the non-veggie).
This process allows a decolourisation of the sugar, so that it is nice and fresh and white. So if you’re buying ready-made cakes and biscuits, you might want to do a bit of research into which brands use an animal-friendly sugar.
If this proves too labour intensive then it simply means you must make your own. They always taste better anyway and your teeth will be beautiful and strong when you stop eating refined sugar.
Another thing to be aware of when you’re out doing your weekly shopping is that when a product is labelled as being made with ‘natural colouring and flavourings’, there is a strong chance that it contains animal derivatives.
If it’s bright red, it’s probably made using Cochineal (E120), which is a dye made from crushed insects. Lovely. Again, look for the green leaf.