Meat eater out of ignorance: what additives should a vegan be afraid of?

The modern food industry produces a large number of products, and almost all of them contain food additives that play the role of dyes, thickeners, leavening agents, flavor enhancers, preservatives, etc. They, as already mentioned, can be produced both from plant materials and from animals. Which of them to use is decided by the manufacturer, and at the same time, unfortunately, the source of raw materials is not indicated on the packaging. In addition, some manufacturers have realized that buyers are scared off by the letters E in the composition of the products, so they resorted to a trick and began to write the names of additives instead of letters. For example, instead of “E120” they write “carmine”. In order not to be deceived, both names will be indicated here.

E120 – Carmine and cochineal (female cochineal insects)

E 252 – Potassium nitrate (dairy waste)

E473 – Sucrose fatty acid esters (animal fat)

E626-629 – Guanylic acid and guanylates (yeast, sardine or meat)

E630-635 – Inosic acid and inosinates (animal meat and fish)

E901 – Beeswax (waste product of bees)

E904 – Shellac (insects)

E913 − Lanolin (sheep wool)

E920 and E921 – Cysteine ​​and cystine (proteins and animal hair)

E966 – Lactitol (cow’s milk)

E1000 − Cholic acid (beef)

E1105 – Lysozyme (chicken eggs)

Casein and caseinates (cow’s milk)

E441 – Gelatin (bones of animals, most often pigs)

Lactose (milk sugar)

There are also additives that are combined under one name and are made from both animal and vegetable raw materials. At this time, there is no information about this on product packaging, and the manufacturer is not required to provide this information, even if you ask for it. Going forward, the vegan community needs to raise the issue of how to fix this and ensure that the full information about the raw materials is indicated on the packages. In the meantime, the following additives can only be avoided.

E161b – Lutein (berries or eggs)

E322 – Lecithin (soy, chicken eggs or animal fats)

E422 – Glycerin (animal or vegetable fats and oils)

E430-E436 – Polyoxyethylene stearate and polyoxyethylene (8) stearate (various vegetables or animal fats)

E470 a and b – Sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium salts of fatty acids and (the next nine supplements are made from plant or animal fats)

E472 af – Esters of mono and diglycerides of fatty acids

E473 – Esters of sucrose and fatty acids

E474 – Saccharoglycerides

E475 – Esters of polyglycerides and fatty acids

E477 – Propane-1,2-diol esters of fatty acids

E478 – Lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propylene glycol

E479 – Thermally oxidized soybean oil with mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (plant or animal fats)

E479b – Thermally oxidized soybean and bean oil with mono and diglycerides of fatty acids

E570,572 – Stearic acid and magnesium stearate

E636-637 Maltol and isomaltol (malt or warmed lactose)

E910 – Wax esters (plant or animal fats)

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish and seal oil or soy)

Also, these additives can be part of cosmetics, medicines and dietary supplements.

In general, every year it becomes more and more difficult for a vegan to eat products that are produced by the food industry. New supplements appear all the time, so the list is not definitive. If you are serious about your nutrition, then when you see a new additive in the composition of the product, you will have to clarify what raw materials it is made from. 

For convenience, you can print this list of supplements to refer to in the store. Or install on your phone: Vegang, Animal-Free, etc. All of them are free. Each of them contains information on non-vegan ingredients in food.


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