Seven 'Vegetarian' Foods with Hidden Meat in Them

If you're vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, you may be trying to avoid consuming meat as much as possible. Whether it be for health reasons or ethical implications, it is important to be aware that meat may be present in a product without it being clearly written in the ingredients.

Assorted Chips

That's right. The bag of Lay's chips in your pantry may not be completely vegetarian. Many potato chip seasonings contain cheese. Cheeses are commonly classified as dairy rather than meat, but the cheese seasonings used by major potato chip, Cheez-It, and snack companies actually isn't vegetarian. This cheese contains rennet, which is sourced from the stomachs of animals like calves and goats. It helps curdle the milk used for making the cheese. Chips containing these cheeses actually contains the stomach lining of slaughtered calves. This ingredient is improperly labeled on the packaging of chips as well; snack companies label this stomach lining as 'enzymes' which indicates that this rennet was used as an ingredient in the chips.

Certain Foods with Red Food Dye

Certain red food dyes that give your food an appealing color may actually contain... insects! Red food colorings, inclusing those labeled as 'cochineal' or 'carmine' are actually not chemically derived. Rather, they are made from the crushed shells of these insects. Make sure to check your yogurts, candies, dairy-based drinks, and canned goods for these ingredients before consuming them!

Some Vanilla Flavors

That delectable and sweet flavor in some of your candies and ice cream may not actually be sourced from a plant! In rare situations, the vanilla in your food may be sourced from castoreum: a fragrant ingredient sourced from the anal glands of beavers. This may not be explicitly labeled in ingredients, so make sure to research before you bite into your favorite sweet!


As aforementioned, cheeses, especially parmesan cheese, may contain rennet derived from the ground stomachs of young calves. Foods with cheeses, like Kraft mac-and-cheese, will lbael this rennet as 'enzymes'. Unless a company specifies that the enzymes it uses are 'microbial' or 'plant-based', it is safe to assume they contain animal rennet. Great alternatives are Publix-brand shredded cheeses, Cabot cheese, and vegan cheeses.

Marshmallows and Some Yogurts

Those pillow-y sweet treats are actually not vegetarian! Marshmallows and foods created with them (e.g. Lucky Charms) contain gelatin. Gelatin is composed of various collagen-created animal body parts, including hooves, bones, skin, and tissues. Some yogurts, including Yoplait! also include gelatin for the consistency of their products. Alternatives include Publix brand yogurts, most Greek yogurts, and vegan marshmallows!


You read that correctly. That glistening-white color of sugar is derived from bone char. Bone char from cattle is used to filter sugar and give it a pure white appearance.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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