The first six months or so of going vegan were completely shocking. Not only was I exposed to an overload of horrible acts performed on animals but also to an uncountable number of ingredients that I had never noticed before. Once my eyes were open I could never again be blissfully ignorant.
My, what many called extreme label reading started when Anzia, our little vegan was given a lollipop when she was about four. Up to this point all of her food had been homemade except for the occasional organic lollipops that her grandma gave her. So we were out shopping and a store owner offered her a lollipop for being the best behaved kid they had seen all day. She was super excited and we gave in. Minutes after beginning to eat it she had an allergic reaction which we later learned was from the calcium stearate in the lollipop. Calcium stearate is derived from dairy and yes, Anzia is extremely allergic.
After that I was paranoid. Not only were we vegan but we needed to know what all the strange ingredients were in every single thing we ate. I became that person that called to see where lactic acid was derived from in the jars of olives we were buying to learn that they fermented in a process using either cornstarch or beet sugar. Since then I have also bought a food additives app for my phone that tells me about all those weird ingredients that you otherwise need a biology degree to figure out.
With everything I have learned the weirdest ingredient to me is still Confectioners Glaze or shellac. How the heck did anyone come up with the idea that if you take the excrement from a beetle and add it to candy it will make it shiny? Why do we need shiny candy anyway? While reading today to write about this I also learned that some coffee beans may be covered with shellac. WTF? Not to mention a bunch of our produce.
What do you find to be one of the weirdest ingredients that is added to food that could otherwise be vegan?
Follow the conversation on Facebook.