Bon Appetit – Vegetarians Beware

Do you know Carmine? No, we’re not talking about Carmine Rosato, one of the fictional Mafioso from the Godfather movies. This carmine is far deadlier, responsible for millions of deaths every year. The casualties, however, are bugs. Tons and tons of bugs which, when mashed up, are used to add red or pink coloring to all sorts of products—particularly food (yogurt, juice, candy, pie fillings, and more) and cosmetics (shampoo, lipstick, ointments, pills, and more).

Although the FDA requires that carmine be listed on ingredient panels, very few people—including many unsuspecting vegetarians—have any idea of its sordid origins and have been blissfully ingesting carmine for years. And according to a really entertaining article, vegetarians have a lot more to watch out for. Here are a few examples.tamh eating bugs

  • A product of the scent glands of beavers, castoreum shows up in many foods, drinks, and cosmetics.
  • This stuff shows up in yogurt, ice cream, Jell-O (of course), and gummi candies (bears, fish, or whatever). It’s made from a number of animal byproducts, including hooves, bones, and tendons.
  • A product derived from dried fish bladders used in wine and beer making
  • Most of us have never heard of it, but if you’ve eaten cheese, you’ve most likely eaten rennet too. It’s made from the stomachs of calves.
  • Most of us know shellac as that stuff we brush on to wood to give it a glossy finish. But that’s not the only place shellac (which is made from certain female bugs native to Thailand and India) shows up. It’s also used to give jelly beans and fresh fruit their shiny glow.

The good news is that there are non-animal-based alternatives to all of these delicacies. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to stay that way, you’ll have a better with foods labeled as kosher.

Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.
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