Most of us have been living in a fool’s paradise, imagining that everything that we read on the front labels of grocery such as ‘natural ingredients’ or ‘no artificial flavorings or colors’ is plant derived and good for us. Even when we check the list at the back of the packages, and few people actually do that, we are frequently puzzled by various names and codes that we have never really been educated about in schools, college or home. Here are some shocking ingredients to beware of, especially for those of us who are turning to a more vegan and ethical lifestyle. Many of these are labelled as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ or loosely described as ‘solvents’, ’emulsifiers’, ‘anti-caking agents’, ‘colors’ and ‘preservatives’.
- Carmine/ Cochineal or Crushed Bugs E120: Made by crushing beetle insects and found in most cosmetics such as lipsticks, rouge, blush-on or shampoos as well as in colorful food items such as candies, juices, colored ice-creams, cakes, syrups, jams, yogurts, sausages and lollies may give many of us the creeps.
- Animal Bones in Sugar E542: The sweet sugar we eat every single day is made with the use of crushed bones of cattle or pigs in the filtration process in factories so that it is bleached white. Brown sugar is similar as it is made from white sugar. Anti-caking agents in powdered food products and detergents may also contain this and so might toothpaste.
- Gelatin from Pigs or Cows in Sweets and Jellies E441: Porcine or pig gelatin as well as that from other animals bones and skin is commonly used in jellies and gelatin or gummy sweets that we innocently offer to children every other day and also consume as capsules in medication.
- Shellac or Beetle Excretion in Jellybeans and Nail-polish E904: Also called confectioner’s glaze it is made from secretions of lac bugs for the shiny and hard shells or coatings in candies, jelly beans, chocolate or pills and also in polishes and paint.
- Cysteine from Animal or Human Hair in Bread E910, E920, E921: To make stretchier dough in burgers, rolls, biscuits and widely permitted in most baked goods.
- Sheep Secretions or Lanolin in creams E913: Woolly mammals such as sheep secrete lanolin from their sebaceous glands which finds its way into several creams, balms, baby oils and moisturizers. Vitamin D may also be extracted from it for adding to food.
- Wax in Crayons, Candles and Cosmetics E901 and E907: Wax derived from animals such as cows or bees are found in many wax based products including lipsticks, crayons, candles and soaps even if the labels do not always say so.
- Animal Fat in Food E471 and Stearic acids or Stearates E570: Animal fat is regularly found in several brands of baked goods, chips, crisps in the form of margarine, lard from pig belly, tallow from horses and cattle and in many processed foods including local bakery items while stearates from tallows are also found in many cosmetics, shampoos and personal care items as ‘surfactant’.
- Enzymes, Emulsifiers and Softeners in Breads, Cakes E322: Enzymes from the bodies of animals or lecithin from eggs are usually added not just to cheeses but also at times in baked products including breads to emulsify and soften them.
- Glycerin from Animals in Food and Toiletries E422: Triglycerides, glycerol and glycerin are not always plant derived but extracted from animals and many of our personal care products such as toothpastes, condoms and conditioners have it. It is also used as a solvent and sweetener in many processed foods such as cookies and puddings.
- Flavor enhancers E631 and MSG E621: Sodium inosinate in many snacks is made of meat while Monosodium Glutamate found in many flavored crisps, noodles, snacks and sauces has been linked with several health problems.
- Animal Keratin, Guanin, Snail Slime and Collagens in hair and cosmetic products: While Keratin is made of ground hooves, horns and hair of animals, Guanine is made from shiny fish scales to give shimmer to makeup. Squalin from sharks for makeup, Ambergis from whales for perfume, Estrogen from pregnant horses, Snail Slime, Collagen and Retinol for anti-ageing creams are other ingredients used in the cruelty industry.
- Chemical Bleach in White Bread: Chlorine Di-oxide, Benzyl Peroxide, Bromides and other chemicals are typically added to give that white color and smooth texture to your everyday bread.:
- Musk oil and perfume: Derived by abusing and killing of wild animals such as musk deer for the strong smelling anal secretions.
- Castorium from Beaver’s Anal Castor glands for flavoring Ice-creams and desserts: Another one of the ingredients passed off as natural flavorings that is derived from anal secretions of beavers and also used in perfumes.
- Most colors, chemicals and preservatives: Most of the additives such as colors, sweeteners, enhancers and preservatives in foods have been linked with asthma, cancer and hyperactivity and hence classified as dangerous. Similarly SLS or Sodiun Laureth Sulfate, Lye, Fluorides, Parabens, Aluminium and many ingredients in cosmetics, shampoos, lye, anti-perspirants and toothpastes are also recognized as harmful, poisonous and even carcinogenic.
- Wool, Silk, Leather, Feathers or Animal Fur: From clothing to bags, shoes, stuffed pillows and even our shamanic drums and ritual robes may have animal skins, silks, feathers and wool that involve cruelty. Even our household gum may be animal derived.
- Honey: Vomited by bees who process nectar, honey involves destruction of their homes or exploitation in bee farms.
- Pet Foods and Pellets: When feeding our animals out of packages of pet foods, we are unaware of how they have been processed from other slaughtered animals.
- Meat, Dairy, Fish and Poultry: Involving violence, abuse and slaughter of animals these products are discouraged and opposed by most people who believe in compassion. However do remember to also avoid most chocolate, cakes, biscuits and sweets as they usually contain dairy and eggs as well as animal derived additives such as whey.
- Medical Products and Vaccines: Vaccines are known to be made of eggs and pork gel besides having viruses injected in our bodies to make us immune to negative things such as pollution and viruses, and prevent any symptoms from showing up so that negativity remains suppressed inside. Surgical sutures are also often made of animal intestines and are cruelty based.
- Animal venom, exotic ‘medicine’ and collectibles: From ‘kambo’ taken forcibly from frogs to ‘snake oil’, rhino horn, and various other exotic collectibles such as ivory from elephants are also linked to cruelty even if for medicinal, decorative or ceremonial use.
- Dietary Supplements: Vitamin and mineral supplements such as B12, D, Calcium, Omega 3 and many more may be derived from animals.
- Pesticide and GMO based foods: Foods grown with chemical based fertilizers and pesticides as well as genetically modified products are not natural and may contain more negativity as they are designed to be immune to harmful substances.
- Plastics and Synthetics: Non-biodegradable bags, toys, clothes and daily use items have made their way into every room of our homes. We can end their use and develop eco-friendly alternatives to save our planet.
Look out of the ‘Vegan’ labels on products that are vegan, because if not specifically marked so they usually are not Vegan, even if marked ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. Also avoid animal tested products to keep them cruelty free.
Some ideas for switching to a more natural vegan life include:
- Avoiding cosmetics and unnecessary or unhealthy products
- Raw whole organic fruits and vegetables without glazing for food
- Organic neem, licorice or meswak sticks for teeth
- Rock salt and natural herb powders such as neem leaves for bath
- Cinnamon, cloves and cardamom for mouth wash and mouth fresheners
- Shikakai and soap nuts for shampoo and detergents
- Unrefined olive oil for skin care and hair conditioner
- Essential oils for perfumes
- Energy healing and meditation for well-being
- Spiritual or inner instead of outer materialistic pursuits