If you’re a strict vegan, or even a budding vegetarian, then we don’t suggest you read this article.

Most of us are aware that gelatin is derived from animal bones; while some common sense will quickly reveal that fine bone china has animal bones included in the final mixture. However, you’ll be shocked to discover that there are many other products which we use and consume that include animal parts or animal-derived substances.

Plastic Bags – They’re the most common thing in the world, and one that has made shopping that much easier and more convenient. Little did you know however, that plastic bags include chemicals called slip agents, which prevent the material from sticking to metal during production and the bags from sticking to each other in post production. Where do these slip agents come from? Animal fat.



White Sugar – Natural sugar is brown in colour, whereas the white version is a processed kind. To create it, bone char from cattle bred in Afghanistan, Argentina, India and Pakistan is used. This doesn’t only refine the sugar, but it also gives it its pearly white colour.



Crayons – In Maltese, crayons are often referred to as tax-xema (wax/candle), and that couldn’t be more of a tell-tale sign. Up until the late Renaissance, most peasants’ only source of light were candles made from tallow – a hard substance derived from animal fat. Crayons use this animal by-product as well, and that is why you can set a crayon alight. Don’t feel guilty, however. This animal by-product would otherwise go to waste.



Hairspray and Hair Gel – I’m so sorry to break this to you, but most hair styling products are made using a chemical derived from… the shells of prawns! Known as chitin or chitosan, this chemical increases shine, volume and prevents split ends. This product can also be derived from various fungi, but of course, it makes sense to use the shells of prawns as they would otherwise be thrown out.



Guinness – Don’t hate me… Yes, some beer is created using animal products, and Guinness is one of them. With a name that is reminiscent of a particular location in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Guinness contains a chemical called Isinglass, which is found in fish bladders. This helps with the fermenting process, as Isinglass gathers stray yeast cells, solidifies them, and drags them to the bottom of the barrel for them to be removed at a later stage.



If you’re shocked and surprised, I’ll just say that this is only the beginning. Hardback books, perfume, nail polish, cake mixes and even red-coloured sweets can and most of the time, do contain animal products.

Don’t worry too much, though. These ingredients are almost always derived from bits that would otherwise be cremated or destroyed.


Were you surprised? Would you like to know about other products that use animal by-products?

Let us know in the comments section below.


More from Eve: 5 products you didn’t know contained animal parts – part 2