Honey Isn’t Vegan & Other Things You Didn’t Know About Veganism
Like how the commonly-used red food dye is derived from crushed beetles. Yeap.| August 29, 2017
“Wait, you can’t eat honey either?” is a question I find myself a.k.a Team KULALA’s resident vegan answering time and again. Let’s iron things out for just a bit: honey is made by bees for bees, and as such, farming bees for honey means taking away their food source. In theory, vegans choose not to eat honey because we avoid anything that supports not just cruelty, but also the exploitation of living creatures, which happens when honey is harvested. It helps plenty that honey substitutes are a dime in a dozen – namely agave and molasses – which makes for yet another reason not to consume it.
When I decided to go vegan three years ago, I realised a couple of things. One of them includes not trusting the ingredient list written on labels, mostly because brands tend to list certain non-vegan things as “natural flavouring” or in E-numbers i.e. the confusing codes for the different additives. (Although, cross-checking the ingredient list is something that benefits vegans and non-vegans alike. Sneaky, sneaky mass commercial food producers.)
Often enough, I have to pull the item up on Google and a revelation ensues. Carmine, for instance, is a commonly-used red food dye made from crushed beetles. Vitamin D3 in boxed orange juice comes from sheep wool. Wine is commonly filtered through egg whites and casein, a protein from milk. It truly is eye-opening when you’re aware of the minuscule things that go into your food.
It might seem a little sad that I’m unable to eat the average gummy bear, marshmallow or even Singapore’s beloved beancurd pudding – the traditional tofu-y one is fine – because it contains gelatine. But! Did you also know that Oreos are vegan, alongside McCormick’s Bacon Bits, Pop-Tarts and Hershey’s chocolate syrup? Ah, where would I be if I didn’t have these on a lousy day that can only be made better by sweet things.
So, the next time you pick out something for a vegan – or if you intend to become a vegan yourself, or if you just want to be super sure about what you’re eating – check the ingredients. The surest way of making sure anything is vegan: Google. Look out for vegan labels as well, or maybe even whip up something yourself – like this no-bake cacao tart courtesy of Bella Koh of The Cat Kitchen – so you’re in control of what goes into your food.
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