Interesting ingredients

So between a conversation on here and in talking to a vegetarian friend of mine, it's occurred to me that there are a lot of things that occur in common foods that people don't know about. Originally this was all the animal products that people don't know about in their food, but I'd be interested in hearing any other ones. I'll start with a few off the top of my head:

Caesar salad dressing: contains anchovies
Worcestershire sauce: contains anchovies and tamarind
Jello/gelatin: Processed animal bones and/or hooves.

Anyone have some other odd ones to add? I'd especially like to make sure I don't inadvertently feed one of my vegetarian friends something with meat.

Forums: 
Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

I don't see why it would worry anyone.

As far as other sneaky meaty products go... I don't know. Imitation crab meat is still surimi- fish paste. That's all I've got. Blum 3

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Tamarind is just a fruit, just thought people might find it interesting that a fruit from India/Thailand/etc. was in worcestershire sauce. On a side note I found about about another interesting one:

Rennet, a product in many types of cheese, especially those produced in Europe. It's derived from the stomaches of calves killed for veal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennet

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

Rennet is one of the biggest reasons most cheeses are not kosher (goes against mixing meat and dairy)

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I was going to list some highlights, but the whole article might be useful. This article lists commonly hidden non-vegetarian ingredients that you should watch out for. Some are obvious, but at least a few were a surprise to me, like the animal bone products used to filter white sugar or the animal fat in soap. Usually you can read the list of ingredients on a product, but not always. I'm not a vegetarian myself, but both of my sisters are, as was my best friend growing up, and I had a close friend/co-worker who was vegan. I learned a lot of interesting things from him about veganism (Which I don't think is a word. Does anyone know the correct term for that?).

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

I love getting into conversations with self proclaimed vegans trying to tell me I'm evil because I eat meat and how much better they are. Until I start pointing out their leather purse, leather belt, leather shoes, etc...

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with people that decide that's their lifestyle. You never know when someone may have to have given up meat because of health issues. Something like someone with ciliac does with gluten. But don't rub it in my face when you are not truly living the lifestyle you are pushing on me.

PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

If someone wanted to push it in my face I think I would be annoyed, and PETA generally pisses me on off several fronts, but I think there are some damned good reasons for at least some forms of vegetarianism. Hell, I've gone vegetarian for periods just because I didn't feel like I was getting enough exercise to justify needing the protein from meat (though I would occasionally eat fish). I also spent about 4 months vegetarian just because I wanted to force myself to learn to cook with vegetables and without meat products, though I called a halt to that when I realized that with 2-4 hours of exercise a day I physical could not get enough protein without meat.
Now, I'm just an omnivore; I'll occasionally go a week or two without meat, and then some times I'll eat meat in every meal. It all depends on what I feel like having.

MsGamgee's picture

Embodiment

PETA has two campaigns going on right now that don't enrage me so much as make me giggle hysterically every time I hear about them.

1. Replace the milk in Ben & Jerry's ice cream with human breast milk.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24404821-38198,00.html

2. Force people to begin calling fish "Sea Kittens."
http://www.peta.org/sea_kittens/

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

I'm cooking up some really tasty sea-kitten right now. I would have gotten some abortion donuts as well, but, ya know, gluten...

MsGamgee's picture

Embodiment

did enrage me. Really, pro-lifers? Y'all can't even have donuts now? There seems to be NO FUN ALLOWED in moralistic preaching. Oh, wait: duh.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

Breast milk? Really guys? I wouldn't drink someone else's breast milk unless we were married, and I certainly wouldn't buy ice cream made from it. At least the guys at Ben & Jerry's aren't crazy.

Also, they have stories for kids on sea kittens, and it is the most depressing thing I have ever seen. I can understand being animal friendly and not wanting to eat veal or something, but seriously? Fish aren't cute, no matter what you call them, and they can be part of a healthy diet. Chickens, too. Yum! (And I hear chickens are so dumb that if it's raining, they'll look up and drown. Maybe it's an urban legend, but it's a funny one, and it makes me feel less bad about killing chickens. Seriously? Rain is your kryptonite?)

My vegan friend wasn't nuts and all pushing his views on other people, so I was interested in hearing his perspective because he wasn't preachy about it, but I definitely lived with some people that would throw red paint on your clothes for wearing fur or leather. This was in contrast to my previous roommate who wore nothing but sexy, sexy leather.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Chickens have heads the size of a large walnut. With brains small enough to fit in those skulls, of course they aren't that smart Wink

Speaking from personal experience, tho, the real reason I will never have a problem with eating chickens is that they are some of the meanest critters in the barnyard. Take a look at a flock of free-range chickens and you'll see at least a couple really ugly ones with half their feathers horribly missing. Know why? Cos the other chickens plucked them out while they were beating the shit out of the poor hen! There's a reason they call it the "pecking order", folks...

errgh.... I tried to say something more, but it keeps turning into an anti-'ethical veganism' rant (as opposed to health-related or openly religion-motivated vegetarianism), so I'm gonna shut my mouth now.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I always say that if chickens could figure out a way to get you down to their level, they'd eat you. (They'll eat anything.) Don't get me wrong, I loved my "girls," a lot. They were very sweet chooks. But they were birds of VERY little brain. Smile

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I have three girls in my backyard, and one of them tried to eat my toddler's finger (she stuck it through the chicken wire). So, yeah. They'd eat us.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

I was once herding 5-6th graders around my college campus for a program called Girl Start. We unfortunately passed a militant vegetarian who was busy passing out fliers. About two seconds after the first kids went by, there was a wave of "EWWWWW!!" We couldn't yoink the pamphlets out of their hands fast enough. >_

Hope none of them were too scarred...

attercob's picture

Petitioner

Maybe I'm unusually well informed but I knew about these ingredients going back to when I was a kid. Does anyone have some really unexpected ingredients?

A random bit of trivia is that we had a tamarind tree in our front yard when I was growing up. We'd sometimes eat the fruit... which grow in brown pods that get brittle when ripe. It's more like a bean in appearance and the fruit has large seeds packed like peas in a pod. The stuff you eat is a dark brown pasty material in the pod around the seeds. It's ok to eat off the tree but not something to really go out of your way for.

Kittae's picture

Postulant

See, that's awesome, and I bet adventurous kids would appreciate a tasty tree like that in their yard. I-m so happy I love tamarinds, especially when you get the candies at Mexican stores that have chili pepper in the middle. I dunno, the two just seem to go together so well. But then, my favorite 'fruit' taste is red beans/ azuki.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

Thai and Vietnamese food regularly contains fish sauce (nam pla); I'm not vegetarian (anymore) but I don't like seafood or fish and I can taste even tiny amounts. Even just lots of curry pastes have fish IN them, so at many restaurants there are some dishes that can't even be made truly vegetarian, and strict vegetarians or vegans should always ask.

Chinese food often uses chicken broth in their basic sauces, and then of course many, many 'vegetable' soups use chicken broth, french onion soup traditionally uses beef, etc. Always ask about soups!

The gelled coating on fresh fruit tarts frequently contains gelatin (I make my tarts with strained peach jam or red currant jelly, but that's not the commercial norm). And as for cheeses, yep many of them contain animal rennet but some cheeses, usually fresher ones (mozzarella for example) almost never do and so are fairly safe bets. I've never, ever seen fresh (in water) mozzarella made with rennet.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

From what I've seen almost all Thai curry pastes call for shrimp paste, and some a little fish sauce. That said, if you really like coconut milk curries and the like, look in to Malaysian or Indonesian curries (or send me a message and ask me and I'll dig out a few recipes). Most of these only really use chiles, galangal, ginger, shallot, and a few other vegetarian ingredients in the curry pastes, and fish sauce seems to be fairly rare/unheard of (still a little new at these cuisines) in the food in general. Some of these are spectacular recipes too (I have a Malaysian beef curry that I really have to make a point of making a lot of if I want left overs).

attercob's picture

Petitioner

Actually, just skip the paste. You can but the spices that go into it for cheaper and recipes are easily found online. You can find many recipes that don't include ingredients you object to, or you can omit/substitute on recipes that include the stuff you don't want. Plus, if you eat the curried food often you will have the opportunity to adjust the spice mix as you like to something you might like better than the paste.

Swedgin's picture

The fish sauce generally gets its name from anchovy extract. You can replace the impact that the fish sauce has on the palate in the dish largely by using salt. I use a kosher sea salt, and with some practice you can adjust it so that the fish sauce is not really missed.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

All of the recipes I have call for making your own curry paste. Instead of just mixing it up for the recipe at the time, however, I usually make enough for two or three uses and freeze the others so I have them for when I want to be able to make stuff quickly later. If I'm feeling really ambitious I'll make up a few different kinds and freeze a bunch Blum 3 As far as fish sauce, I find that at least in Thai cooking it just adds something that you can't get just from salt; I can see cutting it if you don't eat meat or have a problem with fish, but otherwise I would add it.

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

Weird things MeiLin and I have to worry about:

Soy sauce contains wheat
Almost all canned soups contain wheat
Almost all rice and corn cereals contain barley malt (barley has gluten as well)
Some types of tea contain barley
some types of instant mashed potatoes contain wheat
most imitation crab meat has wheat in it
some types of frosting has wheat in it
TONS of sauces have wheat in it. We've stopped going to Red Lobster because all their sauces, except BBQ have wheat in them.

Kosher things

not an ingredient thing, but if you look on most gelatin packs, there's a random K on it. It's supposed to trick people into thinking it's Kosher, but in fact, it must have a 'seal' something that looks like a symbol, something that can be trademarked, (letters themselves cannot be trade marked), so you can reference the organization that certified it.

almost all imitation crab meat has some crab in it.

some all chicken, or all beef sausages are still encased in pig intestine (I know it sounds gross, but that's how sausage is made, meat packed in the intestine. Personally, it sounds resourceful to me).

Davik's picture

Embodiment

It's interesting that most soy sauce has wheat in it, because there's no reason for it. If you can find meju (fermented soybean paste) without wheat in it, you could make soy sauce without wheat, though it takes 2 months Blum 3

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

Yeah, this one company does make gluten-free soy sauce, but for some reason its REALLY salty (which I found out the 'ruin-your-stirfry-dinner' way). I think there is something with 'malt' about the brewing process though...

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I'm thinking that most people don't know how soy sauce is made, so here's the recipe that I'm honestly dying to try if I ever decide I have two months and a 10 gallon container to spare:
3/4 bushel sea salt
10 gallons water
4 blocks meju
3 pieces oak charcoal, plus several smaller pieces
1 gallon grain syrup (think corn syrup)
10 toasted jujubes
5 dried hot chiles

Add salt to water, stir to dissolve and let sit 2-3 days. Place a few pieces of burning charcoal in earthen ware crock. Pour grain syrup on top. Add meju and salted water. Add the rest. Cover with mesh or gauze. Allow to sit in the open for ~60 days, checking saltiness occasionally. Remove meju blocks with a strainer, and strain remaining liquid. Boil remaining liquid to 1/3 of original volume, and adjust saltiness. You now have soy sauce Blum 3 Recipe from Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall - "Growing up in a Korean Kitchen" (this cookbook is amazing, but requires an incredibly high level of culinary ability)

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I haven't noticed any difference between it and the regular kind.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

So, I wouldn't want my first post to be a self-righteous vegetarianism rant, BUT, I am a pescatarian (meaning I dont eat meat or poultry, but I do eat sea creatures. Come on, I squish bugs all the time, and shrimp are just big bugs). I rarely announce that I dont eat meat unless I need to make sure I CAN eat something. People tend to get defensive. OH MY GOD, I am not going to try to convert you!!! RELAX. It is my choice, for my reasons, and I dont care if you are shoving a hamburger in your face! It makes me so mad at other vegetarians for making people think that I am going to be a whack job too.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Thanks for speaking up. We need voices for common sense and free choice in all the different food/diet camps, so I'm glad to hear yours, too.

Also, welcome to the forums!

Add new comment

Get an exclusive free ebook from the world of the Intimate History! Exclusive content, contests, new releases and more.