Vegan advice: Sneaky terms

03 Dec 2020

Need advice on anything vegan? Send your questions to (subject line: Vegan advice).

Read more questions and answers at our Ask me anything VEGAN advice column.

Q: Hi Georgia, My question is whether you can recommend any handy resources that help with all the little sneaky terms they write on the labels to hide animal products? I have always been a label checker and would like to think I have gotten much better at spotting all the terms but here I am having just discovered that even my bread could contain animal products. Gross! Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated 🙂 - Label Sleuth

Dear Label Sleuth,

Thanks for your question. Ensuring that the foods you buy are vegan can be a frustrating and annoying process, even for people who take the time to thoroughly read labels. There are a lot of sneaky terms out there that you might not immediately recognise as being from animals, but they are. Here is a list of some of the most common ones to keep any eye out for.

  • Casein - a milk protein
  • Lactose - a milk sugar
  • Whey - a milk by-product
  • Collagen - from the skin, bones and connective tissues of animals such as cows, chickens, pigs and fish
  • Elastin - found in the neck ligaments and aorta of bovine, similar to collagen
  • Keratin - from the skin, bones and connective tissues of animals such as cows, chickens, pigs and fish
  • Gelatine/gelatin - obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments and/or bones and is usually from cows or pigs
  • Aspic - industry alternative to gelatine; made from clarified meat, fish or vegetable stocks and gelatine
  • Lard/tallow - animal fat
  • Shellac - obtained from the bodies of the female scale insect tachardia lacca
  • Honey - food for bees, made by bees
  • Propolis - used by bees in the construction of their hives
  • Royal Jelly - secretion of the throat gland of the honeybee
  • Vitamin D3 - from fish-liver oil or sheep's wool; note that vegan versions are available and are made from lichen
  • Albumen/albumin - from egg
  • Isinglass - a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, and is used mainly for the clarification (fining) of wine and beer
  • Cod liver oil - in lubricating creams and lotions, vitamins and supplements
  • Pepsin - from the stomachs of pigs, a clotting agent used in vitamins

To be sure products are vegan, check for a vegan certified logo on the label, such as Vegan Australia Certified..

Georgia xx

Georgia Bamber is a vegan success coach based in the Southern Highlands NSW. Certified in coaching and plant based nutrition she knows a thing or two about embracing a vegan lifestyle. You can find out more about Georgia and how she can help you at

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter Sign Up

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram