Do you really know what’s in the food you eat? Many people would be surprised to learn what’s in some of their most beloved foods and beverages, some of which have many disturbing origins for how those ingredients are collected or where they come from.
As a vegan, it’s important to question where our food comes from and break down ingredients to know what you’re putting into your body and its impact on the world. However, many are shocked to learn that what makes foods like candy, cheese, and ice cream so tasty are the “secretions from a beaver’s anus, bugs, hair, and fish intestines.”
Outside of everyday foods, concoctions such as beer and wine have gone through their own bizarre process to make them.
“All beer and wine contains some arsenic. Certain beer made with rice, rice wine (like sake) and some red or white wines may have higher amounts of arsenic in them than others,” according to Dartmouth College.
“If you choose beer and wine with higher concentrations, consider drinking less of them if your drinking water, food or other sources contain arsenic,” recommends the Ivy League institution — which also notes that such a naturally occurring element can show up in fruits and vegetables.
If those reasons weren’t enough to make you set your cup down, many beers used dried-up fish bladders to reduce the haze or brighten the brew, according to the Evening Standard.
According to the article: “Beer is also commonly filtered with the pool cleaner diatomaceous Earth — also known as petite ocean-dwelling crustaceans.”
“They’re basically just made of these tiny, little microorganisms called diatoms. They’re micro-sized shellfish,” Le said. “We mine this stuff because it’s really great at filtering. It’s just like this random thing that we find in the oceans,” consulting food scientist Bryan Quoc Le previously told The Post, mentioning also that phosphoric acid is used in soda, too.
One of the biggest surprises was castoreum, an additive primarily found in vanilla and berry flavorings and perfumes. This highly fragrant secretion comes from a beaver’s anal glands and has been food-safe for more than 80 years.
“A lot of flavoring is about tricking the brain,” Le told The Post. “Because about 80% of what you eat and experience as flavor is not in its taste itself, but in its smell, as well as its appearance.”
There are so many different types of foods, and adding preservatives and other additives to our foods helps them last longer, makes them taste better, and can reduce food waste by increasing the shelf life of the products we consume daily.
However, when you’re first starting out as a vegan or looking closer at your ingredients list, many people miss these very real animal products in their everyday foods and drinks. While you could argue that we have been finding new uses for animal parts since our caveman days, it’s the fact that most people don’t even realize that these terms are animal products that is by far the most troubling.
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Iryna Bychkiv is the founder and writer of the culinary website Lavender & Macarons, where she shares clean, European-inspired recipes that are delicious, easy to prepare, and made with wholesome ingredients. Iryna loves creating meals that are simple yet healthy and unique, including vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Iryna is also a freelance writer for MSN and Associated Press Wire.