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What is and what isn’t: 5 foods that aren’t actually vegan

Veganism is quite a popular dietary choice in the world. As of January 2021, approximately 79 million people worldwide have chosen to be vegan. Yet, despite how popular it is, veganism seems to have quite a few misconceptions about what foods can be consumed in a vegan diet. So what are some of them that are constantly being misunderstood as part of the vegan diet?

Before we start discussing some of the most notable misunderstood foods, let's first clarify the rules for a vegan diet. According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, a vegan diet consists of foods that are plant-based (such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, and grains) and doesn’t contain any animal products (such as eggs and meat). That’s the base rule - no animal products, regardless if it's direct or indirect.

Keep that base rule in mind. Now let's look into 5 foods that have often been misunderstood to be vegan by people.

1. Chocolate

While chocolate does contain a large amount of cacao seeds which are plant-based, the problem lies in the fact that chocolate often contains dairy products, such as milk, to counteract the bitter taste of cacao seeds and to give a more creamy texture to the chocolate. This applies to both milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Even though dark chocolate has more cacao seeds than milk in the product, it still contains milk. Despite this, there are some companies that do actually make chocolate that’s actually and completely vegan, so make sure to check the ingredients of the product before purchasing it.

2. Bread

The majority of bread is made out of animal products such as milk or eggs. However, in its very basic state, bread can actually be made using water, flour, salt, and yeast, which can be considered vegan friendly. Check carefully if you buy a loaf of vegan bread, or go to a trustworthy vegan store.

3. Sugar

Much like bread, in most situations, refined sugar is considered not vegan as it contains bone char. Although it helps whiten sugar, it’s in fact an animal product and that’s why it’s not vegan. However, an exception to this is raw sugar, which is totally made from plants and therefore considered vegan. So when you’re shopping for sugar and you’re on a vegan diet, a tip would be looking for bone char on the packaging. If it’s not on the packaging, then you know it’s vegan.

4. Miso soup

When you have Japanese food, it’s very common to have miso soup on the side. It’s often known to be vegan, too. The miso paste used for the soup is indeed vegan-friendly. However, in most traditional recipes, it’s cooked with a fish bone base. If you do want to make miso soup and are currently on a vegan diet, using a seaweed base instead of a fish bone base would be a very good alternative.

5. Veggie burgers

Despite the name sounding like it’s quite vegan-friendly, however, not all veggie burgers are. This is due to some veggie burgers that tend to use dairy products such as milk or eggs in the buns. If you do happen to be on a vegan diet and want to try a veggie burger, you should ask the staff whether the burger contains any dairy products before consumption.

These are just some of the many foods that are misunderstood to be vegan-friendly, other examples include honey, cheese, yogurt, candy, and many more. Even drinks such as wine or other alcohol can be not as vegan-friendly as they seem and you think to be. We hope this article has helped you understand the rules and regulations of being on a vegan diet, as well as clearing some misconceptions on certain foods, so as to help make your vegan experience easier.


What Can't Vegans Eat: Essential Vegan Food Rules -

Photo of Vegetable Salad in Bowls - Ella Olsson -

Written by Ian Chan

Edited by Cissy So

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