You Wouldn’t Expect This! Vegans do not eat or use anything that was once part of an animal’s body, which means that not only do they avoid eating meat, eggs and drinking milk, but they don’t even wear leather products or use cosmetics tested on animals. But even when they are diligent, they may run into unexpected surprises, as one can easily encounter an animal-based product when least expecting it.
Tattoos and chewing gum may not be vegan.
Animal-based products are used even in the making of seemingly harmless drinks.
And what about condoms? They can be non-vegan as well.
You may even need to watch out for money!
Tattoo ink is made of ground animal bones, which when burnt give the ink its blackness. Gelatin is used as a stabilizer and is made of cooked hooves. And even the supposedly vegan inks (which shows in their price) contain shellac, which is a secretion of the lac bug.
Although it isn’t intuitive, gum isn’t exactly a vegan treat. Chewing gums contain a compound called lanolin, which is also often used in cosmetics, and it is a secretion of sheep grease glands. It is what makes wool greasy, protecting sheep from getting soaked in rain. Manufacturers often sneak it onto lists of ingredients under the innocent name of “rubber base”.
Irrespective of whether you prefer beer, wine or juice, it is almost certain that your favorite drink contains a fish-derived compound called isinglass, which is used as a clarifier – it ensures that a liquid isn’t cloudy. On the other hand, various juices are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your health, but are processed from fish.
They used to be made from sheep intestines, which is something that would nowadays pose a problem not only for vegans. But vegans still haven’t won – today’s condoms contain casein, which is a protein derived from milk. It is also added to toothpastes, and its point is to make the condom’s surface smoother. The good news is that there are 100% vegan condoms available these days, but they are harder to find.
Some countries (the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Mexico and more) have started using plastic polymer banknotes, which are harder to counterfeit and are more resistant to damage. However, they contain tallow, which is made from animal lard, most commonly from pigs and cattle. So watch out!
Find out more in a beautiful book To be, or not to be, a vegetarian