Reading the list of ingredients is not always enough to determine whether a product is plant-only:
- Many food, cosmetic, and clothing ingredients use names that do not make it clear that they are animal-derived.
- Many micro-ingredients can be made from either plant or animal sources. Glycerides, l-cysteine, lecithin and similar ingredients for example, can be source from animal products or plant sources.
- Natural flavoring, spices, seasoning, dyes and other seemingly innocuous ingredients — even vitamins — may contain animal products or be derived from animal sources.
- Many products use animal ingredients during their processing, even if the final product does not contain animal products. Cane sugar, for example, is bleached in many parts of the United States and other parts of the world using animal bone charcoal. Alcohol, such as red wine and beer, are often filtered with egg albumen or isinglass (derived from fish bladders).
- “Synthetic”, “fake”, “natural”, “organic” and other modifiers do not guarantee that a product is free from animal use.
The following, however, are some of the more common ingredients almost always derived from animal sources.
Further, because a product is plant-only in one locale, it does not guarantee that it is plant-only in another. Checking the source of micro-ingredients with the local manufacturer of a product is the best way to determine the source.
Many cereals in the United States, for example, are fortified with animal-derived Vitamin D3. This is not the case in many other other countries, even when the brand of cereal is the same. A product might be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup in the United States, cane sugar in Canada, and beet sugar in Britain.
Even the same product in the same country may be problematic. For example, the same product in the United States may be sweetened with animal bone charcoal bleached sugar one month, and cane sugar bleached using a different method another month, depending on how the company sources its sugar.
it is also often important to check with the local manufacturer rather than the parent company. Many commercial products are also produced under license internationally. A product may be manufactured and distributed by an entirely different company, one country to the next. Contacting a main or corporate office in a different country may provide you with the wrong information.
In short, if you don’t understand all of the ingredients in a product or are unsuare whether those ingredients involve animal use that’s practicable and possible for you to avoid, that’s a good reason to check with the manufacturer or avoid using it.