At first glance, you’d imagineall these everyday foods SHOULD be vegetarian, but the truth is they may not be!


The rule is, if you care about your food being 100% vegetarian, always check the label before you buy.

1. Bananas

Always buy organic, as non-organic bananas may have been sprayed with Chitosan, which is made from shrimp and crab shells. The spray helps preserve bananas from over-ripening.

image of woman looking at a banana


2. Breakfast cereals

Some sugar-coated cereals contain beef gelatine, which is used to make the sugar stick to the cereal.

3. Cake mix

Look at the ingredients list to see if lard is listed – or your cake may contains pork or beef.

4 . Figs

Sometimes, after a wasp has pollinated the fruit, it may get stuck – and die – inside the fig. You won’t be able to see it, as an enzyme in the fruit converts the wasp into protein, but it could be there!

image of woman eating a fig


5. Guinness

The famous beer is filtered though isinglass (made from fish bladder) though, after 256 years, Guinness has plans to stop using this method sometime in 2016.

6. Jelly and soft sweets

These types of sweets contains gelatine made through a process which involves boiling animal skin and bones. It’s also in sweets like foam shrimps and marshmallows.

7. Miso soup

More often than not, miso soup contains dashi, a cooking stock made using dried kelp and fish flakes.

8. Olive tapenade

Beware of anchovies sneaking into some recipes. Always check the label.

9. Parmesan cheese

Some hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, are made using animal rennet, which is an enzyme  from the lining of a calve’s stomach.

10. Pesto

Pesto is usually made with Parmesan cheese (see above). So, for a veggie-friendly product, always look for a Vegetarian symbol on the jar.

11. Red sweets

Lots of red sweets get their colour from cochineal, a colouring made from ground beetles. It also appears on labels as E120 or Carmine.

12. Refried beans

In traditional Mexican restaurants, most make their refried beans with lard. However, if you are buying a tin from your local supermarket read the label!

13. Soft drinks

Your favourite fizz may not be vegetarian. On the Coca Cola website, it states, ‘a few of our drinks contain small traces of fish gelatine, which is used as a stabiliser for the beta-carotene colour.’ These products are Lilt, Lilt Zero, Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar and Schweppes Orange Squash.

image of fizzy orange drink


14. Toothpaste

Some toothpaste contains suet made from animal fat, or glycerol, a sweetener derived from animals. Watch out for E422 Glycerol or Glycerine on the label. UltraDEX Low-Abrasion Toothpaste, £6.15, carries the Vegetarian Society Approved trademark.

image of woman brushing teeth


15. Wine

While it’s mainly made from grapes, sometimes animal products are used in the refining of wine – which could be gelatine, isinglass, chitosan, casein and egg albumen.

16. Worcestershire sauce

It’s anchovies that give Worcestershire sauce it’s unique ‘unami’ savoury flavour.

17. Yogurt

Non-fat and low-fat yogurt often contain gelatine to give them a creamy, rich texture.