9 'vegan' foods that aren't actually animal-free

What, FIGS?!

Unexpected Non Vegan Foods
(Image credit: Rex)

What, FIGS?!

Switching to a vegan way of life is becoming more and more popular, which means loads of meat-eaters who are interested in having a life free from anything animal-related now trying to navigate this new way of eating/living.

It’s not easy — being vegan involves prep, perseverance and a whole lot of Googling. There are loads of foods you’d expect to be vegan-friendly but, thanks to some rogue ingredients, they’re actually not.

Here are the 9 most surprising non-vegan foods…


Yes, figs — the fruit — aren’t technically vegan or even vegetarian. A female wasp has died inside every single one. During pollination, the wasp gets stuck inside the fig and the body is then broken down by an enzyme called ficin.

Refried Beans

And you thought your burrito (‘hold the chicken/beef/pork/soured cream/cheese’) was vegan, mais not… Often the base of refried beans contains lard, so remember to check just in case.


Et tu, pesto? Though it might seem like the perfect Bolognese alternative, the pine nut-based sauce often contains Parmesan. As we know, animal rennet (mammal’s stomach lining) is often used to make Parmesan.

Chocolate Mousse

Granted, it hasn’t been served much since the 90s dinner party era, along with profiteroles and mini quiches, but watch out for the potential gelatin in chocolate mousse.


Vegan kids and grown-ups don’t love it so, thanks to the gelatin. If you’re nodding along to ‘gelatin’ like it’s one of the less gross ingredients, let’s recap — it’s a flavourless ingredient made from boiling raw materials from cows and pigs like skin, tendons, ligaments and bones in water.

Worcestershire Sauce

It’s a cruel world. Though vegetarian or vegan food often lacks the natural taste of a meat dish, condiments aren’t a safe food group. Check the ingredient list… Anchovies.

Caeser Dressing

Same again — bloody anchovies!


The high street dark chocolate doesn’t technically have any animal product in it, though the brand warns against cross contamination from milk chocolate.


It will surely come as a crushing blow to all vegan(uary)s to know they shouldn’t be drinking wine. It’s not the ingredients, but the clarification process involves animal products, like fish bladders, gelatin, milk powder and dried blood powder. Don’t fret entirely — though fairly few, vegan wines do exist.

KUDOS, Vegans.