Reading Labels

Reading Labels

The food industry uses the most unthinkable ingredients sometimes, so it pays to read labels at first to find out which brands are truly vegetarian. Once you know your brands, you can relax a little.

“Vegetable” soup often has chicken or beef broth; a few brands of veggie burgers use eggs and dairy; margarines sometime contain animal products and many egg-replacers contain eggs (who’d have thought?). Also, watch out for lard in beans (very common!) and breads which contain lard, tallow, animal shortening etc.

“ovo-lacto vegetarian” indicates that it contains eggs and/or dairy products; “lacto vegetarian” indicates that it contains dairy products, but no eggs; “vegan” indicates a product with no eggs or dairy products, and usually, no honey. Products labelled as vegan are “safe” for all vegetarians.

Attached is a list of ingredients (food as well as non-food). However, below is an example of what to be wary of……

Cochineal Extract


Snapple produces three flavours with Cochineal Extract. It comes from boiling or chemically treating the shells of beetles (an insect). It is a brilliant red dye. The three flavours are Mango Madness, and the two new Island Splashes. Call up Snapple and ask them to use a fruit extract instead of an insect extract. Snapple apparently raise these beetles in a special farm. I don’t understand the logic in using animals in what are supposed to be “Natural Fruit drinks”.

According to Tropicana customer service, anytime natural flavours or colours are stated in their ingredients, it is a combination of the items listed above in the ingredients, and if cochineal extract is added then it is listed separately but some of the flavours have beta-carotene.

Cochineal is also used by Dole in “100% Natural Pine-Passion-Banana Juice”, advertised as Paradise Fruits.

Ribena Twist

Also contains Cochinel. However original Ribena, doesn’t.

Many “red” drinks contain Cochinel- so beware!

Coka-Cola reputedly has carrots as part of the “vegetable extract”. This is unconfirmed as far as I know but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

We ourselves have to be extremely diligent. Let us not take anything that we don’t know exactly what it is, and where it came from. Let us live simple.