Life can be tough for veggies. As if the smell of bacon wasn’t tempting enough, there are all sorts of foodie traps waiting to ruin all their good intentions with a poorly advertised piece of animal. If it wasn’t already hard enough to ignore all the delicious meaty morsels out there, these sneaky ingredients have a habit of making any meal a potential minefield. It’s enough to drive anyone mad.
Dishes waiting to launch an anti-veggie ambush are actually more common than you might think. As it turns out, there are a load of ingredients that, whilst they may seem veggie friendly, are just trying to lull you into a false sense of security. To help anxious animal lovers everywhere prepare for the worst, here are eight foods that you may think are vegetarian, but definitely aren’t.
1. French Onion Soup
You might think that there’s nothing more to a classic French onion soup than water and, well, onions. You would be sorely mistaken. Traditionally, this dish is actually made with beef broth, making it about as vegetarian as a Big Mac. In most restaurants, the dish will be made in exactly the same way.
2. Pre-made pie crusts
There’s nothing better than cutting a few baking corners and buying your own pre-made pastry. Unfortunately, this is a disaster for veggies. Pre-made pie crusts are not, as in traditional recipes, made with butter, but are in fact comprised of lard. This gives them greater shelf live, but obviously detracts from their veggie friendly reputation.
A staple of Mediterranean cooking, tapenade looks like an innocent pile of chopped up olives. But, as we’ve already seen, looks can be deceiving. Most tapenades also include anchovies for added salty flavour - delicious, but definitely not vegetarian.
4. Chocolate Mousse
As anyone who’s ever tried to make one at home will agree, getting chocolate mousse to set properly can be a real pain. That’s why supermarkets go for a meaty shortcut. The chances are that, if you opt for a pre-made and store bought pud, it will involve gelatin as a setting agent.
5. No Fat Yoghurt
Yoghurt’s distinctive glossy sheen and texture is almost impossible to achieve without fat. Therefore, if you take the fat out, you have to get creative with what you use instead. This is why most producers will use gelatin in their zero fat yoghurt products - again, a big no-no for any would be veggies.
6. Pad Thai
You could be forgiven for thinking that a meat-free pad Thai is automatically a safe space. Unfortunately, almost all Thai cooking has a meaty staple at its core. Fish sauce is used in almost every dish and, as the name implies, is decidedly un-vegetarian. Ordering any vegetarian Thai food, therefore, can be a serious challenge.
7. Parmesan Cheese
As painful as it might be to admit, even cheese is off-limits to true vegetarians. Traditional hard cheeses such as Parmesan and Grana Padano are made with a coagulating agent known as rennet. Extracted from calves’ stomachs, this unappetising addition may well have ruined pasta for thousands of would be veggies around the world.
Learning that all of your favourite foods are no longer safe is enough to make anyone reach for a drink. Unfortunately, even here you’re not safe. Many alcoholic drinks, including wine and Guinness, are actually made with a substance known as isinglass - fish bladders used to strain the alcohol and remove impurities. When even your favourite bottle of red isn’t safe, you might as well give up totally.
If this collection proves anything, it’s that going veggie is far harder than it looks. Once you do a little digging, it becomes clear that a load of tasty treats are actually totally off limits. All you can do is take extra care and carefully read your labels. You never know where meat might turn up.