A-Z Of Animal Derived Ingredients

Whether an ingredient was derived from an animal is not always clear. Many companies remove the word “animal” from their ingredients list instead using long words which are confusing (and also misleading) to avoid putting off consumers and increase profit margins. Animal ingredients are used not because they are better but because they’re cheaper. 

There are tons of ingredients that aren’t vegan and some are more sneaky than others. Let’s start with the basics:

  • Beeswax. Honeycomb – Wax obtained from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. From virgin bees. Very cheap and widely used in lipsticks and other cosmetics. Derivatives: Cera Flava. Alternatives: paraffin, vegetable oils and fats, ceresin (aka ceresine, earth wax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax & Japan wax.
  • Cod liver oil – is derived from the liver of codfish. It is used as a nutritional supplement.
  • Gelatine – also known as Gelatin, is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs.
  • Honey – Food for bees, made by bees. Can cause allergic reactions. Used as a colouring and an emollient in cosmetics and as a flavouring in foods. Should never be fed to infants. Alternatives: in foods—maple syrup, date sugar, syrups made from grains such as barley malt, turbinado sugar, molasses; in cosmetics—vegetable colours and oils.
  • Lactose – Milk sugar from milk of mammals. In lotions, foods, tablets, cosmetics, baked goods, medicines. Alternatives: plant milk sugars.
  • Lard – Fat from hog abdomens. In shaving creams, soaps, cosmetics, baked goods, French fries, refried beans, and many other foods. Alternatives: pure vegetable fats or oils.
  • Milk protein – It is derived from the Milk from captive female mammals. Milk Protein is used in nutritional supplements.

And the not so obvious…

  • Alanine (See Amino Acids)
  • Albumen – in eggs, milk, muscles, blood, and many vegetable tissues and fluids. In cosmetics, albumen is usually derived from egg whites and used as a coagulating agent. In cakes, cookies, candies, etc. Egg whites sometimes used in “clearing” wines. Derivative: Albumin.
  • Albumin (See Albumen)
  • Ambergris – From whale intestines. Used as a fixative in making perfumes and as a flavouring in food and drink. Alternatives: synthetic or vegetable fixatives.
  • Amino Acids – The building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. In cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos, etc. Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.
  • Aminosuccinate Acid – (See Aspartic Acid)
  • Animal Fats and Oils – In foods, cosmetics, etc. Highly allergenic. Alternatives: olive oil, wheat germ oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, safflower oil.
  • Bee Pollen – Microsporic grains in seed plants gathered by bees then collected from the legs of bees. In nutritional supplements, shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants. Alternatives: synthetics, plant amino acids, pollen collected from plants.
  • Biotin. Vitamin H. Vitamin B Factor – In every living cell and in larger amounts in milk and yeast. Used in supplements. Alternatives: plant sources.
  • Blood – From any slaughtered animal. Used as adhesive in plywood, also found in cheese-making, foam rubber, intravenous feedings, and medicines. Possibly in foods such as lecithin. Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.
  • Bone Char – Animal bone ash. Used in bone china and often to make sugar white. Serves as the charcoal used in aquarium filters. Alternatives: synthetic tribasic calcium phosphate.
  • Bone Meal – Crushed or ground animal bones. In some fertilizers. In some vitamins and supplements as a source of calcium. In toothpaste. Alternatives: plant mulch, vegetable compost, dolomite, clay, veggie vitamins.
  • Calciferol (See Vitamin D)
  • Caprylamine Oxide (See Caprylic Acid) – also known as Caprylic Acid or Octanoic Acid, is a fatty acid found in goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk as well as in coconut, palm, and other plant oils. It is used as a dietary supplement, to make esters for the production of perfume, and in the manufacture of dyes.
  • Capryl Betaine – refers to Caprylic Acid, a fatty acid found in goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk as well as in coconut, palm, and other plant oils. It is used as a dietary supplement, to make esters for the production of perfume, and in the manufacture of dyes.
  • Caprylic Acid – Also known as Octanoic Acid or Caprylamine Oxide, it is a fatty acid found in goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk as well as in coconut, palm, and other plant oils. It is used as a dietary supplement, to make esters for the production of perfume, and in the manufacture of dyes. Derivatives: Caprylic Triglyceride, Caprylamine Oxide, Capryl Betaine. Alternatives: plant sources, especially coconut oil.
  • Caprylic Triglyceride – refers to Caprylic Acid, a fatty acid found in goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk as well as in coconut, palm, and other plant oils. It is used as a dietary supplement, to make esters for the production of perfume, and in the manufacture of dyes.
  • Carbamide – also known as Urea, is usually synthetic but can be extracted from urine excretion and other bodily fluids of animals. Carbamide is used in deodorants, mouthwash, hair dye, lotions, shampoos, and other cosmetics. It is also used to “brown” baked goods such as pretzels.
  • Carmine. Cochineal. Carminic Acid (See Colors) – Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods. Alternatives: beet juice, alkanet root.
  • Carminic Acid (See Carmine)
  • Carotene. Provitamin A. Beta Carotene – A pigment found in many animal tissues and in all plants. When used as an additive, typically derived from plant sources. Used as a colouring in cosmetics and in the manufacture of vitamin A.
  • Casein. Caseinate. Sodium Caseinate – Milk protein. In “nondairy” creamers, soy cheese, many cosmetics, hair preparations, beauty masks. Alternatives: soy protein, soy milk, and other vegetable milks.
  • Caseinate (See Casein)
  • Castoreum – is a secretion from the castor sac of beavers. Castoreum had been used in perfumes and in food as a substitute for vanilla and sometimes for strawberry or raspberry flavourings. However, when used in food, it is usually just referred to as “natural flavouring.” Castoreum in food is not common anymore however is still used in some fragrances, cigarettes, and homoeopathic medicines.
  • Chitosan – A fibre derived from crustacean shells. Used as a lipid binder in diet products; hair, oral, and skin-care products; antiperspirants; and deodorants. Alternatives: raspberries, yams, legumes, dried apricots, many other fruits and vegetables.
  • Choline Bitartrate – is used as a dietary supplement. It can be derived from animals or plants or be synthesized.
  • Cochineal – is a scale insect from which the pigment Carmine is made. Cochineal is used in the manufacture of food, juice, candy, cosmetics, paints, and artificial flowers.
  • Collagen – Fibrous protein in vertebrates. Usually derived from animal tissue. Alternatives: soy protein, almond oil, amla oil (see alternatives to Keratin)
  • Colours. Dye – Pigments from animal, plant, and synthetic sources used to colour foods, cosmetics, and other products. Cochineal is from insects. Widely used FD&C and D&C colours are coal-tar derivatives that are tested on animals because of their carcinogenic properties. Alternatives: grapes, beets, turmeric, saffron, carrots, chlorophyll, annatto, alkanet.
  • Cysteine, L-form – An amino acid from hair that can come from animals. Used in hair-care products, creams, some bakery products, and in wound-healing formulations. Alternatives: plant sources.
  • Cystine – An amino acid found in urine and horsehair. Used as a nutritional supplement and in emollients. Alternatives: plant sources.
  • Dexpanthenol – can be derived from animals, plants, or be synthesized. It is used in cosmetics, as a dietary supplement, and to aid digestion.
  • Diglycerides – contain fatty acids often derived from slaughtered cows, pigs, and other animals. They may also be derived from vegetable fats or be synthesized. Diglycerides are common food additives, usually used as emulsifiers.
  • Duodenum Substances – From the digestive tracts of cows and pigs. Added to some vitamin tablets. In some medicines. Alternatives: vegetarian vitamins, synthetics.
  • Dyes – (See Colors)
  • Ergocalciferol, also known as Vitamin D2 – is usually derived from plants but can be derived from fish liver oil, milk, egg yolks, and other animal products. All the D vitamins can be in creams, lotions, cosmetics, vitamins and more.
  • Ergosterol (See Vitamin D)
  • Fats (See Animal Fats)
  • Fatty Acids – Can be one or any mixture of liquid and solid acids such as caprylic, lauric, myristic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. Used in bubble baths, soap, detergent, cosmetics, food. Alternatives: vegetable-derived acids, soy lecithin, safflower oil, bitter almond oil, sunflower oil, etc.
  • FD&C Colors (See Colors)
  • Fish Liver Oil – Used in vitamins and supplements. In milk fortified with vitamin D. Alternatives: yeast extract ergosterol, sun exposure.
  • Gel – (See Gelatin)
  • Gelatin. Gel – Protein obtained by boiling cow and pig skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones in water. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics. Used as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (e.g., Jell-O). In candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, yoghurts. On photographic film and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules. Sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. Alternatives: carrageen (carrageenan, Irish moss), seaweeds (algin, agar-agar, kelp—used in jellies, plastics, medicine), pectin, dextrins, locust bean gum, cotton gum, silica gel, Vegetarian capsules & digital cameras.
  • Glycerin. Glycerol – A byproduct of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat). In cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpaste, soaps, ointments, medicines, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, and plastics. Derivatives: Glycerides, Glyceryls, Glycreth-26, Polyglycerol. Alternatives: vegetable glycerin (a byproduct of vegetable oil soap), derivatives of seaweed, petroleum.
  • Glyceryls – are derived from Glycerol which can be derived from animal fats, plants, or be synthesized. Glyceryls are used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food additives.
  • Honeycomb (See Beeswax)
  • Isinglass – A form of gelatin prepared from the internal membranes of fish bladders. Sometimes used in “clearing” wines and in foods. Alternatives: bentonite clay, “Japanese isinglass,” agar-agar & mica
  • Keratin – Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. In hair rinses, shampoos, permanent wave solutions& supplements. Alternatives: almond oil, soy protein, amla oil, human hair, Rosemary and nettle.
  • Lactic Acid – Typically derived from plants such as beets. When animal-derived, found in blood and muscle tissue. Also in sour milk, beer, sauerkraut, pickles, and other food products made by bacterial fermentation. Used in skin fresheners, as a preservative, in the formation of plasticizers. Alternatives: plant milk sugars, synthetics.
  • Lecithin – is a fatty substance that can be derived from slaughtered animals, egg yolks, or plants (often soy). Lecithin is used in food additives, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.
  • Lipase – An enzyme from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. Used in cheesemaking and in digestive aids. Alternatives: vegetable enzymes, castor beans.
  • Lipids – include many types of fat substances found in animals and plants. Lipids are used in cosmetics, foods, and in nanotechnology. Lipids as an ingredient will usually be listed more specifically.
  • Lipoids. Lipids – Fat and fat-like substances that are found in animals and plants. Alternatives: vegetable oils.
  • Marine Oil – From fish or marine mammals (including porpoises). Used in soapmaking. Used as a shortening (especially in some margarine), as a lubricant, and in paint. Alternatives: vegetable oils.
  • Methionine – Essential amino acid found in various proteins (usually from egg albumen and casein). Used as a texturizer and for freshness in potato chips. Alternatives: synthetics.
  • Monoglycerides. Glycerides. (See Glycerin) – From animal fat. In margarine, cake mix, food, cosmetics. Alternative: vegetable glycerides.
  • Musk (Oil) – Dried secretion painfully obtained from musk deer, beaver, muskrat, civet cat, and otter genitals. In perfumes and in food flavourings. Alternatives: labdanum oil and extracts from other plants with a musky scent.
  • Myristal Ether Sulfate (See Myristic Acid)
  • Myristic Acid – Organic acid typically derived from nut oils but occasionally of animal origin. Used in shampoos, creams, cosmetics & food flavourings. Derivatives: Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Ether Sulfate, Myristyls, Oleyl Myristate. Alternatives: nut butters, oil of lovage, coconut oil, extract from seed kernels of nutmeg, etc.
  • Myristyls (See Myristic Acid)
  • “Natural Sources.” – Can mean animal or vegetable sources. Most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil. Alternatives: plant sources.
  • Nucleic Acids – In the nucleus of all living cells. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, vitamins & supplements. Alternatives: plant sources.
  • Oils (See alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils)
  • Oleyl Myristate (See Myristic Acid)
  • Panthenol. Dexpanthenol. Vitamin B-Complex Factor. Provitamin B-5 -Can come from animals, plants or synthetics. In shampoo, supplements, food. Derivative: Panthenyl. Alternatives: synthetics, plants.
  • Panthenyl (See Panthenol)
  • Pepsin – In hogs’ stomachs. A clotting agent. In some cheeses and vitamins. Same uses and alternatives as Rennet.
  • Polysorbates – Derivatives of fatty acids. In cosmetics, foods.
  • Propolis – Tree sap gathered by bees and used as a sealant in beehives. In toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, supplements, etc. Alternatives: tree sap, synthetics.
  • Rennet. Rennin – Enzyme from calves’ stomachs. Used in cheesemaking, rennet custard (junket) and in many coagulated dairy products. Alternatives: microbial coagulating agents, bacteria culture, lemon juice, or vegetable rennet.
  • Resinous Glaze (See Shellac)
  • Shellac. Resinous Glaze – Resinous excretion of certain insects. Used as a sweet glaze, in hair lacquer and on jewellery. Alternatives: plant waxes, Zein.
  • Sodium Caseinate (See Casein)
  • Sodium Steroyl Lactylate (See Lactic Acid)
  • Stearamide (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearamine (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearates (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearic Acid – When animal-derived, a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep, etc. May also be of plant origin, including from cocoa butter and shea butter. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hair care, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavouring. Derivatives: Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazoline. Alternatives: can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.
  • Stearic Hydrazide (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearone (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearoxytrimethylsilane (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearoyl Lactylic Acid (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearyl Betaine (See Stearic Acid)
  • Stearyl Imidazoline (See Stearic Acid)
  • Vitamin A – Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, butter, lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics. In cosmetics, creams, perfumes, hair dyes, vitamins, supplements. Alternatives: carrots, other vegetables, synthetics. (Vitamin A exists in two forms: see also Carotene, Retinol).
  • Vitamin B12 – Can come from animal products or bacteria cultures. Twinlab B12 vitamins contain gelatin. Alternatives: vegetarian vitamins, fortified soy milk, nutritional yeast, fortified meat substitutes.
  • Vitamin D. Ergocalciferol. Vitamin D2. Ergosterol. Provitamin D2. Calciferol. Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D can come from fish liver oil, milk, egg yolks, and other animal products but can also come from plant sources. All the D vitamins can be in creams, lotions, other cosmetics, vitamin tablets, etc.
  • Whey – A serum from milk. Usually in cakes, cookies, sweets, bread & used in cheesemaking. Alternatives: soybean whey.

While I hope this list is useful, I want to emphasize that no one can avoid every single animal ingredient. Being vegan is about helping the animals and the planet, not purity. Use this list as a guide, and just do your best to avoid animal ingredients.

To make things easier you could stick to products with the vegan society stamp (or try to find those as much as possible) and also stick to good old plants.


Thanks for reading!

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