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For Immediate Release June 20, 1997
Contacts: Jeanne Bartas (410) 366-VEGE
Tamara Richter (410) 366-8343


Carmine, cysteine, cane sugar, carrageenan, candelilla wax... What are those ingredients in your food? Which is from animal fat? From Insects? Which are vegetarian?

Vegetarian Resource Group researcher Jeanne Bartas for the past year has investigated 200 of those mysterious ingredients on your food labels. Her work has resulted in a helpful 28-page reference guide for you.

What makes this food ingredients dictionary unique is that it lists the commercial source. Though ingredients come from many sources, Ms. Bartas tried to find out which is generally used by food manufacturers. For example, beta-carotene exists in many animals and in egg yolks, but generally the commercial source is primarily vegetable or synthetic.

Though lecithin exists in egg yolks and tissues of animals, at least one company extracts it from soybeans. But be wary that lipase is typically derived from hogs.

So what's the answer to the above questions? Carmine is a food coloring derived from beetles. According to several manufacturers, cysteine (used in baking) is derived from human hair. Cane sugar may be filtered through bone char. However, beet sugar is not processed this way.

Carageenan is a seaweed product which is a common jelling agent. Candelilla wax is derived from plants and used as a produce coating. (It may be combined with other chemicals.)

For information about over 200 ingredients such as cochineal, maple syrup, monoglycerides, and polysorbates, send $4 to Guide to Food Ingredients, The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Or order using the online order form.

The Vegetarian Resource Group is a non-profit organization which educates the public about vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is the abstinence of meat, fish, and fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who don't use any animal products, such as dairy or eggs. For more information about vegetarianism, write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Call (410) 366-8343. Web site is www.vrg.org


Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Food Ingredients is a 28-page handout published by The Vegetarian Resource Group. To order, send $4 to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Below are samples of the 200 definitions. Also given are a summary of some of the vegan and vegetarian ingredients. For more information, call (410) 366-8343.


Commercial Source: vegetable. Used in: baked goods, confections, ice cream, medicines. Definition: A thick brown syrup which is a by-product of the sugar cane and sugar beet industries. Molasses intended for human consumption has not been filtered through bone char. Vegan


Commercial source: animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable. Exists in: synthetic form. Used in: bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, confections. Definition: A common food additive used to blend together ingredients, such as oil and water, which normally do not blend together. May Be Non-Vegetarian

Product information: Archer Daniels Midland Co., a large manufacturer of monoglycerides, reports that they use soybean oil.

Myristic Acid

Also known as: n-tetrade-canoic acid. Commercial Source: Typically animal (cow- or sheep-derived). Exists in: most animal and vegetable fats. Used in: butter, butterscotch, chocolate, cocoa and fruit flavorings for beverages, ice cream, candy, gelatin desserts, baked goods. Definition: A component of fats used in the food and personal care products industries. Typically Non-Vegetarian

Natural Coloring

Commercial source: Typically vegetable, sometimes animal (insect). Used in: beverages, dry mixes, confections, processed foods, ice cream, margarine, baked goods, cereal, pasta. Examples: annatto, turmeric, paprika, beet, carmine, cochineal. Definition: An additive usually extracted from plant sources which imparts color to foods and beverages which naturally have those colors. Typically Vegan

Natural Flavor

Commercial Source: vegetable or animal (meat, fish, fowl, eggs, or dairy). Used in: processed foods, beverages, cereals, salad dressing, condiments, baked goods. Definition: An additive derived from plant or animal sources which imparts flavor. May Be Non-Vegetarian


acid casein
calcium caseinate
royal jelly
sodium caseinate
Sucanat Granulated with Honey

acesulfame K
acesulfame potassium
acetic acid
acid calcium phosphate
acrylate-acrylamide resin
acrylic acid
activated charcoal

VRG Home | About VRG | Vegetarian Journal | Books | Vegetarian Nutrition
Subscribe to Journal | Vegetarian Game | Vegetarian Family | Nutshell | VRG-News
Vegetarian Recipes | Travel | What's New | Bulletin Board | Search www.vrg.org | Links

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Last Updated
September 20, 1998

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The contents of this web site, as with all The Vegetarian Resource Group publications, is not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional.

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