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Is This Vegan? These Foods Are Often Mistaken for Being (or Not Being) Vegan

Surprise! Some foods you assume are vegan are, in fact, not. But we can help—here are the answers to your most pressing vegan questions.

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Pouring aromatic honey into jar, closeupAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Is Honey Vegan?

Honey itself poses no problems for vegans, but the way in which most honey is processed and sold makes the product not vegan. Unless you are hosting a cruelty-free bee colony in your backyard (or know someone who is making their own honey without harming any bees), this is one to avoid. Thankfully, you can swap in molasses, rice syrup or sorghum for honey in just about any recipe—like this Honey Poppy Seed Fruit Salad.

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Two bowls of peanut butter and peanuts on dark wooden background from top viewbaibaz/Shutterstock

Is Peanut Butter Vegan?

Most peanut butter is vegan. Keep an eye on the ingredients before you buy—most peanut butters are made from peanuts and oils, but occasionally non-vegan ingredients can slip in. Check the label and make sure your peanut butter doesn’t contain honey or any dairy-based ingredients, then indulge in your favourite treat—like this post-workout chocolate peanut butter smoothie.

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Homemade hazelnut spread in wooden bowl.beats1/Shutterstock

Is Hazelnut Spread Vegan?

While peanut butter is vegan, hazelnut spreads like Nutella are not. PETA notes that Nutella contains both whey and skim milk, meaning that it’s not vegan. The organization recommends using Earth Balance or Justin’s brands for vegan alternatives to Nutella.

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Sugar on wooden table. Selective focus; Shutterstock ID 167256818; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHbitt24/Shutterstock

Is Sugar Vegan?

Unfortunately, this question is not easy to answer. It depends on the company that processed the sugar. Several brands use bone char to process their sugars, making them non-vegan, but others have eliminated this method altogether. You’ll need to research the company that processes your sugar of choice to determine if your sugar is vegan, or you can opt for a brand that is guaranteed vegan. (You may also want to decide if you should go for brown sugar or white sugar.)

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Milk and dark chocolate on a wooden tableSebastian Duda/Shutterstock

Is Chocolate Vegan?

This one depends. Any chocolate product that contains dairy or sugar could be non-vegan, so look for chocolate brands that include very few additives. Dark chocolate is generally a safe bet—it has amazing health benefits, after all.

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buttermargouillat photo/Shutterstock

Is Butter Vegan?

No. Butter is primarily made from cream, which eliminates it from the vegan diet. Thankfully, there are lots of butter substitutes on the market. We recommend trying Earth Balance’s whipped buttery spread instead.

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A lot of colorful candyVeronika Sekotova/Shutterstock

Is Candy Vegan?

It depends! Determining whether your favourite candy is vegan is all about reading that ingredient list and knowing what to look for. Many candies get their bright colors and crunchy exteriors by incorporating an oil secreted by beetles (we know, we’re sorry you had to read that, too). But PETA notes that many popular candies, like Smarties and Sour Patch Kids, are vegan.

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Dry thin crackers in a wrapping paper and on a sackcloth.OnlyZoia/Shutterstock

Are Crackers Vegan?

Most of the time, yes! Some of our favourite brands—like Ritz crackers—are vegan, meaning we can keep eating peanut butter on Ritz and calling it a wholesome vegan dinner, right? Maybe not, but it makes a satisfying dairy-free snack.

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Chocolate and cream sandwich cookies on pink pastel background, top view.Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Are Oreos Vegan?

Oreos are great for vegetarians, but unfortunately, vegans will need to pass them by. PETA used to recognize Oreos as a vegan-approved snack, but the brand announced its products may be cross-contaminated by milk during the production process, making them non-vegan.

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Bowls of various cereals and milk from top viewbaibaz/Shutterstock

Is Cereal Vegan?

Some cereal is perfectly acceptable for vegans. Popular varieties like Cheerios, Cap’n Crunch and Mini Wheats are vegan, while brands like Kashi and Cascadian Farms make almost exclusively vegan-friendly cereals. You can also make homemade cereal with vegan ingredients.

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Hard Pretzels or Salted pretzels snack for party in white basket.PosiNote/Shutterstock

Are Pretzels Vegan?

For the most part, pretzels are considered vegan. You’re safe to stick to popular brands like Rold Gold, but if you’re purchasing a freshly baked pretzel, be sure milk, eggs and butter haven’t been used in the baking process.

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Bowl with tasty marshmallows on white tablePixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Are Marshmallows Vegan?

Marshmallows are not vegan. Most brands are made with gelatin, which is made from animal byproducts. There are several vegan marshmallow brands that our editorial team loves, including Dandies (available at Bulk Barn), which swap the gelatin for seaweed to achieve that same texture we love in a marshmallow. Once you find a vegan option, whip up our delicious Marshmallow and Strawberry Gratin.

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White wine pouring into glasses, closeupAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Is Wine Vegan?

Surprisingly, no—wine is not vegan. Though fruit and yeast are the predominant ingredients, there are a load of animal byproducts used to refine and ferment the final product, making most wine a non-vegan beverage. Fear not, however—you can still enjoy a glass by picking up a vegan wine brand.

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microwave popcorn, on traditional tableclothPeter Vanco/Shutterstock

Is Popcorn Vegan?

Yes. This delicious snack is vegan, as long as you don’t overload it with non-vegan additives like butter. In fact, it has some amazing health benefits, making it one of our favourite snacks.

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Potato chipsRuslan Mitin/Shutterstock

Are Potato Chips Vegan?

As with your favourite candy, you’ll need to do some research to see if your favourite potato chip brand is vegan. Most plain potato chips are safe, but once you start adding bold flavours, you may be introducing non-vegan ingredients like cheese or whey.

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Homemade peach ice cream, sorbet, top view; Shutterstock ID 533648374; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeNataliia Leontieva/Shutterstock

Is Sorbet Vegan?

Sorbet can be vegan, but keep an eye out for telling ingredients like honey, dairy, eggs and milk chocolate. Talenti makes a sorbetto line that is largely vegan with a few exceptions, while Haagen-Dazs’ sorbet line is certified vegan.

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Glass jars with different kinds of jam and berries on wooden table5 second Studio/Shutterstock

Is Jam Vegan?

Mostly, jam is vegan. Jam is made from preserved fruits and pectin, which is a compound that comes from fruit. Sweeteners are added for flavour, so make sure your jam doesn’t contain honey. Once you get into jelly territory, keep an eye out for gelatin, a common non-vegan ingredient found in jellies. And once you find a vegan one, use it to make our brioche peanut butter and jam sandwich.

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Melted caramel with pieces of caramel candy with salt on a wooden table.nelea33/Shutterstock

Is Caramel Vegan?

For the most part, caramel is not vegan. Some caramels require little more than sugar and heat, while others incorporate heavy cream or butter to thicken and add creamy texture. Simple caramels are vegan if you can confirm the sugar was refined without bone char, but most caramels are not vegan.

Next, learn the essential food items you need for your vegan shopping list.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home