09/12/2013 08:32 am ET Updated Sep 13, 2013

12 Surprising Vegan Foods

The basics are a no-brainer when you're trying to eat a diet free of animal products. But while things like meat, eggs and cheese are easy to avoid, adhering to a vegan diet is far more nuanced than it can seem -- especially when processed foods with long ingredients lists and difficult-to-pronounce names can disguise animal products.

For example, white sugar can be filtered with bone char, charred animal bones that can make sugar appear whiter (although this process is reportedly used less and less in food these days). And certain candies, which may seem vegan-friendly, include the ingredient confectioner's glaze, made from bug secretions.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) includes a number of products with refined sugar, natural flavors or other ingredients that in some instances can come from animals on its list of "Accidentally Vegan" products. The organization explains the position as follows:

While PETA supports a strict adherence to veganism, we put the task of vigorously reducing animal suffering ahead of personal purity. Boycotting products that are 99.9 percent vegan sends the message to manufacturers that there is no market for this food, which ends up hurting more animals.

Vegan individuals will have to choose for themselves whether compounds like these fit into their personal animal-free diet or not, not to mention whether processed foods fit into a nutritious diet to begin with. Still, some of the PETA-approved picks are items you'd never expect to be vegan. Here are just a few.

Surprising Vegan Foods


Foods With More Than 25 Ingredients