Research has shown that their are 7.3 million people in the United States who follow a vegetarian diet, and 22.8 million who tend to follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. (1) Numerous studies have been published in the past few years explaining the health benefits of the vegetarian diet. More and more people are doing their homework, and desire to assure that their body gets adequate nutrition.
If you are vegetarian, vegan, have food allergies, or are health conscious, it is important to know and understand what food additives you may be consuming!
What makes this process harder is the amount of processed food in our grocery store! Even if a food is not processed, we have no idea how it was treated during the growing process. Approximately 15 million people suffer from food allergies. (2) Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or just desire to eat healthier, consider buying organic, reading labels, or making the below items out of scratch.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, steer clear of white sugar. This item is not only a processed food, but it contains “natural carbon” that is actually bone char! Stick with coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup or other natural sugar alternatives. (3)
If you buy orange juice from the store, you definitely want to read the label. Buy organic without additives if you are vegan or vegetarian. Some orange juices contain Omega-3s that are sourced from anchovies, tilapia and sardines. If Vitamin D is added, this is often sourced from lanolin, a waxy substance in sheep’s wool. (3)
Who doesn’t like ice cream? Have you ever wondered about the “natural flavor” that is added to vanilla ice cream? Most would think….vanilla beans! Nope! It’s actually castoreum, which is a fragrant, brown slime that beavers use to mark their territory. It also happens to have a musky vanilla smell! Try investing in a homemade ice cream maker, checking ingredients, buying from a local creamery, or stick to a vegan ice cream. (3)
Most people know to be careful in consuming refried beans. While beans are a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians, these beans often contain pork fat. If eating out at a Mexican restaurant, ask to substitute black beans. If you are at home, make your own refried beans from scratch. (3)
This one is a shocker! For those who have a shellfish allergy or who are vegan or vegetarian, your bananas may be treated with a spray made from shellfish. Bananas are sprayed with Chitosan, a bacteria fighting spray made from shrimp and crab shells. It is essential to purchase organic bananas. If you are allergic, you may have gone your whole life thinking you were allergic to bananas, only to find out you are really allergic to shellfish! (3)
If you are allergic to shellfish, buy organic bananas to avoid eating bananas treated with a shellfish spray!
If you enjoy Dunkin Donuts, Einstein Bros, Pizza Hut, or McDonald’s, you may want to consider an alternative breakfast or meal routine. The bagels at Dunkin Donuts and Einstein Bros. contain dough conditioner, which is sourced from duck and chicken feathers. Pizza Hut crust has the same problem, and McDonald’s honey wheat rolls, cinnamon rolls, and apple pies are all conditioned by feathers. Prep healthy foods in advance, or if eating out consider healthier, local, vegan or vegetarian options. (3)
If you eat hard red candy, the candy coated shell has Natural Red #4, which comes from the female Dactylopius-coccus Costa insect! It’s also known as “cochineal,” “carminic acid,” or “carmine.” Sadly, the list goes on and on. Avoid hard coated candy that has confectioner’s glaze, as this is made from shellac. Shellac comes from the back end of a female lac bug. Your favorite beer or wine could be made with fish bladder. Some peanuts have collagen added that is made from animals, and many potato chips use chicken or pig fat. For your next birthday, try a different dessert, or make your cake from scratch since some cake mixes contain pork fat. (3)
If you desire to eat healthy and avoid certain foods, the best way is to eat whole foods made at home or by a trusted restaurant, friend, family member or deli!
Avoiding processed food, eating organic, shopping at the farmer’s market, and making food from scratch is a great way to assure that you are getting proper nutrition without the additives!