If you are a vegetarian or a vegan the chances are that you automatically know when something presented to you as vegetarian is no such thing. For example if someone gave you a chicken stew claiming it was made with Tofu you would be able to tell from the smell and texture that it was meat rather than Tofu you were being asked to eat. However, if you were presented with a Tofu stew that had been flavoured with chicken stock the chances are you would not realise this and would inadvertently end up eating hidden meat. Luckily, this kind of deceit is something you will rarely if ever come across these days.
If you are eating out, especially in countries where Vegetarianism is not common, it pays to check that the vegetarian dish you are ordering really does not contain meat products. Inadvertently ordering meat has happened to me in Spain on several occasions. On each occasion it was down to a lack of thought or understanding on the part of the waiter serving me rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead me. Once when I ordered vegetarian paella I thought twice and asked the waiter how the paella was flavoured only to find out it was flavoured with fresh chicken stock. When I explained the problem to the waiter he was nonplussed, and it was not because of my bad Spanish, he genuinely could not understand why I would consider chicken stock a meat product. From that story you can see why when eating out in restaurants it is always wise to ask a bit more about vegetarian dishes.
Flavourings and additives are another place you can find hidden animal products. Practically every vegetarian knows that Gelatine is made from animal bones, but there are other flavourings and additives that are less obviously not for vegetarians. For example did you know that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies?, which is fine if you are a fish eating vegetarian, but not if you are vegan. Lutein that is used as a food colouring does not sound like egg, but that is what it is. Albumin which is used to thicken foods is also an animal product that either comes from egg whites or animal blood. However, there are also plant sources for albumin, so if you see albumin on a list of ingredients it does not always mean it is not suitable for vegetarians.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements present another challenge for vegetarians because they are another source of hidden animal products. Again most vegetarians know to avoid capsule tablets and supplements because the capsule is likely to contain gelatine made from bones. However how many know that some forms of Vitamin D such as vitamin D3 are made from liver or fish oils?. If you are buying vitamins and minerals or other supplements it is worth looking for those that are suitable for Vegans. If you are not sure write to the manufacturer and ask them how vegetarian friendly their products are.
Being vegetarian has got a lot easier over the years because labelling has improved, but as you can see there are still some hidden animal products in food and other products. To be completely safe stick to products which are labelled as suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Visit Yorkshire Pantry for vegetarian recipes. If you love cupcakes you will find plenty of cupcake designs and recipes that are suitable for vegetarians at Yorkshire Pantry too.