5 Products With Hidden Animal Ingredients

Jell-O, Capsules and more.

5 Products With Hidden Animal Ingredients


Sweet, wobbly, and semi-transparent, Jell-O has been a favourite dessert since the mid-17th Century. Evidence of gelatin, its main ingredient, has even been found in an ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s grave. Once a symbol of affluence, gelatin was a luxury only the wealthy could afford due to the labor-intensive process of preparation. However, despite its popularity, it’s not suitable for vegetarians as it’s derived from animal bones and skin. Today, alternatives made from plant-based gums or seaweeds are available for those following a vegetarian diet.


If you’re reaching for a capsule to soothe a headache, consider its ingredients. Gelatin, derived from animal skin, bone, and tissue, is a common component in both over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceutical capsules. Its structural versatility and natural compatibility make it an ideal material for capsules. However, this poses a problem for vegetarians and certain religious groups. As a result, starch-based vegan-friendly alternatives, known as HPMC capsules, have been developed.


If you have a sweet tooth, you might be surprised to learn that sugar often contains bone char, a black granular material produced by charring animal bones. Used for filtering and decolorizing sugar, bone char is commonly found in many types of sugar, including brown and confectioner’s sugar. While the use of bone char is prevalent in the US, other countries like the UK, EU, and Australia have largely phased it out.


Ever thought you’d be smoking beaver secretions? Many pre-rolled cigarettes contain castoreum, a substance harvested from the castor sacs of beavers. Used to enhance the flavour of cigarettes, castoreum is also found in a Swedish drink called bäversnaps, a beaver musk-flavoured schnapps.

Beer and Wine

If you enjoy a glass of beer or wine, you might be consuming isinglass, a gelatin-like substance collected from the dried bladders of freshwater fish. Used in the fining or clarification of various beers and wines, isinglass helps to remove insoluble items prior to bottling, speeding up the production process. For those who prefer not to consume fish products, vegan beers and wines are available.