Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 16: There's Animal By-Product in My Chewing Gum!

Last night I was sitting in my studio, working on my book when I absent-mindedly grabbed a piece of chewing gum, my fourth that day. When I flipped the package back over, I saw a tiny line of red text that stopped me in my tracks:

What? A milk-derived ingredient? In my gum?! They're certainly not making it easy to be a vegan.

A little Google-exploration brought me to the official website for this gum where I found this:

What is Recaldent®?

Recaldent® is an ingredient derived from casein (pronounced kay-seen), part of the protein found in cow's milk. Its technical name is casein phosphopeptides-amorphous calcium phosphate, or CPP-ACP.

Yum. That sounds awesome. Reading further:

I can't eat dairy products, can I chew Trident Xtra Care®?

If you are allergic to milk proteins, then you should not chew Trident Xtra Care®. However, if you are lactose intolerant, which means you have difficulty digesting milk sugar (lactose), then Trident Xtra Care® is fully digestible and safe to consume.
My taste for this stuff has suddenly disappeared.

I started wondering where the other hidden animal products were. I already knew about gelatin being made from the connective tissue, skin and bones of animals and about the pigment cochineal (carmine coloring) made from crushed up beetles and used in paints as well as a "natural food coloring." Where else were animal by-products lurking?

Let's find out!

  • Guinness stout: They use isinglass (from the swimbladders of fish) to clarify their beers.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Basically soy sauce plus anchovies and tamarind marinated in a brine with molasses and spices
  • Starburst: The candy contains gelatin. Hell, it's not even Kosher (not that I care, really).
  • Snickers. Well it may be Kosher but it's not remotely vegan with skim milk, milk fat, and egg whites.
  • Wine: This is trickier. Some wines are vegan, others aren't, using any one of several substances to clarify or refine the wine, from isinglass, gelatin, casein or albumin from egg whites. Before I buy wine next time I should do some research into which wines are listed as vegan.

Those are just a few of the consumables. The list* of cosmetics and clothing items that use some sort of animal product range from the expected wool sweaters and leather shoes to the bone china handed down from my great-grandmother to pearl necklaces, silk shirts, exfoliating cream, cold cream and toothpaste.


Even here in my studio bits of former animals pop up, from the cochineal in my carmine lake paint to the bristle brushes I use for oils (made from hog bristles) to my treasured kolinsky sable watercolor brushes ( made from the Siberian Mountain Weasel).

I suppose this is evidence of how it takes conscious effort to maintain a vegan diet.

*Note about the list: the source is PETA, and one of the ingredients they listed as non-vegan was benzoic acid. I did some more research and did not find anything to support the idea that animals are used as a source for this. Historically, it seems to have been derived from a plant; now, it is synthesized in the laboratory. Maybe I'm missing something, but I haven't found any indication that animals are a source of this chemical.


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