Below is a list of things vegans should look out for:

  • albumen/albumin: egg white. Use/s: food binder
  • alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): naturally occurring chemicals derived from fruit or milk. Use/s: cosmetics
  • ambergris: morbid concretion obtained from the intestine of the sperm whale. Use/s: perfumes
  • amniotic fluid: fluid surrounding the foetus within the placenta. Use/s: cosmetics
  • anchovy: small fish of the herring family. Often an ingredient of Worcester sauce and pizza toppings. Use/s: flavor enhancer
  • angora: fiber obtained from rabbits or goats. Use/s: clothing
  • aspic: jelly derived from meat and fish. Use/s: glazing agent
  • astrakhan: skin of still born or very young lambs from a breed originating in Astrakhan, Russia. Use/s: clothing
  • bristle: stiff animal hair, usually from pigs. Use/s: brushes
  • casein: Ammonium Caseinate. Calcium Caseinate. Potassium Caseinate. Sodium Caseinate. The principle protein of cow's milk. Use/s: texturizer for ice cream, frozen custard, ice milk, fruit sherbets, and in special diet preparations.
  • cashmere: fine wool from the cashmere goat and wild goat of Tibet. Use/s: clothing
  • castoreum: obtained from the sex glands of beavers. Use/s: fixative in perfumes
  • catgut: dried and twisted intestines of the sheep or horse. Use/s: stringed musical instruments, surgical stitching
  • caviar: roe of the sturgeon and other fish. Use/s: a relish
  • chitin: organic base of the hard parts of insects and crustacea, e.g. shrimps, crabs. Use/s: conditioners and skin care products, thickener and moisturiser in shampoos
  • chamois: soft leather from the skin of the chamois antelope, sheep, goats, deer, etc. Use/s: cleaning cloth
  • cochineal (E120): dye-stuff consisting of the dried bodies of scale insects. Use/s: red food and drink colouring
  • cod liver oil: oil extracted from the liver of cod and related fish. Use/s: food supplement
  • D3 (cholecalciferol): vitamin derived from lanolin or fish oil. Use/s: vitamin and food supplements
  • down: underplummage of fowls (especially duck and goose). Use/s: filling quilts, pillows, sleeping bags, padded clothing
  • eider down: small, soft feathers from the breast of the eider duck. Use/s: filling quilts
  • elastin: protein uniting muscle fibres in meat. Use/s: moisturiser in cosmetics
  • gelatin: jelly obtained by boiling animal tissues (skin, tendons, ligaments etc) or bones. Use/s: confectionery, biscuits, capsules, jellies, photographic film, match heads
  • glycerin/glycerol (E422): clear, colourless liquid which may be derived from animal fats, synthesised from propylene or from fermentation of sugars. Use/s: solvent for flavours, texture improver, humectant
  • hide: animal skin (raw or tanned). Use/s: clothing and footwear, clothing accessories, upholstery
  • isinglass: very pure form of gelatin obtained from the air bladders of some freshwater fishes, especially the sturgeon. Use/s: clarifying alcoholic drinks, jellies
  • keratin: protein found in hair, horns, hoofs and feathers. Use/s: shampoos and conditioners, fertilizer
  • L'cysteine hydrochloride (E920): manufactured from animal hair and chicken feathers, or synthetically from coal tar. Use/s: shampoo, improving agent for white flour
  • lactose: milk sugar. Use/s: tablet filler, sweetener, 'carrier' for flavouring agents &emdash; especially in crisps
  • lanolin: fat extracted from sheep's wool. Use/s: cleaning products, an emollient and emulsifer used in cosmetics & emdash; especially lipsticks
  • lard: fat surrounding the stomach and kidneys of the pig, sheep and cattle. Use/s: culinary
  • leather: tanned hide (mostly from cattle but also sheep, pigs, goats etc). Use/s: clothing and footwear, clothing accessories, upholstery
  • lecithin (E322): fatty substance found in nerve tissues, egg yolk, blood and other tissues. Use/s: emulsifier in baked goods and confectionery
  • lutein(E161(b)): substance of deep yellow colour found in egg yolk. Use/s: food colouring
  • mohair: cloth or yarn made from the hair of the angora goat. Use/s: clothing
  • musk: substance secreted in a gland or sac by the male musk deer. Use/s: perfume
  • oleoic oil: liquid obtained from pressed tallow. Use/s: margarines
  • oleostearin: solid obtained from pressed tallow. Use/s: soap and candle making
  • oestrogen: female sex hormone from cow ovaries or pregnant mares' urine. Use/s: cosmetics, body building supplements, hormone creams, hormonal supplements
  • pearl ('Mother of', or 'cultured'): concretion of layers of pain-dulling nacre formed around a foreign particle within the shell of various bivalve molluscs, principally the oyster. Use/s: jewelry and decorative
  • pepsin: enzyme found in gastric juices. Use/s: cheese-making
  • placenta: organ by which the foetus is attached to the umbilical cord. Use/s: cosmetics
  • progesterone: sex hormone. Use/s: hormone creams and supplements
  • propolis: bee glue. Used by bees to stop up crevices and fix combs to the hive. Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
  • rennet: extract of calf stomach. Contains the enzyme renin which clots milk. Use/s: cheese making, junkets
  • roe eggs: obtained from the abdomen of slaughtered female fish. Use/s: a relish
  • sable: fur from the sable marten, a small carnivorous mammal. Use/s: clothing, artists' brushes
  • shellac (E904): insect secretion. Use/s: hair spray, lip sealer, polishes, glazing agent
  • silk: cloth made from the fibre produced by the larvae ('silk worm') of certain bombycine moths, the harvesting of which entails the destruction of the insect. Use/s: clothing, cosmetics
  • sodium 5'-inosinate: occurs naturally in muscle. Prepared from fish waste. Use/s: flavour enhancer
  • sperm oil: oil found in the head of various species of whales. Use/s: candle making
  • spermaceti wax: fatty substance found mainly in the head of the sperm whale, other whales and dolphins. Use/s: medicines, candle making, cosmetics
  • sponge: aquatic animal or colony of animals of a 'low order', characterised by a tough elastic skeleton of interlaced fibres. Use/s. bathing aid
  • squalene/squalane: found in the liver of the shark (and rats). Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
  • stearate: salt of stearic acid Use/s: body building supplements
  • stearic acid (E570): organic acid prepared from stearin
  • stearin(e): general name for the three glycerids (monostearin, distearin, tristearin). Formed by the combination of stearic acid and glycerin; chiefly applied to tristearin, which is the main constituent of tallow or suet. Use/s: medicines, skin softener in toiletries and cosmetics
  • suede: kid-, pig- or calf-skin, tanned. Use/s: clothing and footwear
  • suet: solid fat prepared from the kidneys of cattle and sheep. Use/s: cooking
  • tallow: hard animal fat, especially that obtained from the parts about the kidneys of ruminating animals. Use/s: soap and candle making
  • testosterone: male hormone. Use/s: body building supplements
  • urea: waste nitrogen formed in the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
  • vellum: fine parchment prepared from the skins of calves, lambs or kids. Use/s: writing material
  • vitamin A (retinol): derived from fish liver oil or egg yolk. Use/s: cosmetics, food supplement
  • volaise: ostrich meat
  • whey: residue from milk after the removal of the casein and most of the fat. By-product of cheese making. Use/s: margarines, biscuits, crisps, cleaning products
  • wool: hair forming the fleecy coat of the domesticated sheep (and similar animals). Use/s: clothing

To add to hal9000fx's list:

This list deals mainly with cosmetic/pharmacueticals, where the ingredients are a bit harder to decipher. The following are all animal derived, some of these are probably quite obvious, others not so. In any case, even when buying supposedly "animal-friendly" products one needs to be careful. I've come across many a soy based alternative to cheese/butter that still contained casein.


From the National Anti-Vivisection Society's "Personal Care with Principle," Spring, 1992

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