Gummy bears. Picture: Pexels
Gummy bears. Picture: Pexels

The foods vegetarians can't eat

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Oct 12, 2021

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When you are a new vegetarian or trying to go plant-based, it is easy to make mistakes. Chances are, you have already messed up by eating something you thought was safe, only to realise later that it contained, say, chicken broth.

Becoming vegetarian can feel like you are giving up a lot of foods, but you might be surprised what you can and cannot eat on a vegetarian diet. But whether or not you are a vegetarian, you definitely need to find out about the different products and ingredients in the food that you eat.

Consider looking into your favourite fruits, vegetables, and candies; you will be surprised to find that they contain ingredients that you would not expect.

In fact, you would be shocked to discover that a good number of foods contain animal products, which makes them unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians. To help you out, we have put together this list of foods vegetarians cannot eat.


Many soups, especially in restaurants, are made with chicken stock, beef stock, or fish stock. And you will find ham stock in most split pea soups.

Worcestershire sauce

Everyone’s favourite condiment is not a favourite of vegetarians: Many varieties are made with anchovies, along with malt vinegar, molasses, sugar and spices. Certain brands even list the fish on their labels.

Jelly babies

Sorry if you love these sweets – they are not for you. Most likely, gummy bears contain gelatin, which comes from animal bones, connective tissue and organs.

According to Wikipedia, some jelly babies are made with pectin or starch instead of gelatin, so these are veggie-friendly. Of course, a no-gelatin rule means you also need to look at the ingredient lists of any gummy chews that you eat.


Many people are disappointed to learn that not all cheeses are vegetarian. Some cheeses such as Parmesan, gorgonzola, pecorino romano, camembert, gruyere, and manchego are made using animal rennet.

Animal rennet is a set of enzymes produced in the stomachs of unweaned calves and works to curdle the casein in milk. It is possible to find cheese made with plant rennet, just do your research if this is important to you.


Another shocker! How can a fruit not be vegetarian? Blame it on the pesticides. Some bananas contain a spray-on coating called chitosan that is supposed to extend the shelf life of bananas, according to Science Daily.

However, this coating is a derivative of shrimp and crab shells, posing a problem for vegetarians.

Salted peanuts

Some brands use gelatin as an additive to help the salt and other spices adhere to the peanuts. Gelatin is derived from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hooves and connective tissues. Always buy plain peanuts in the shell.

Plus, a study published in the journal Appetite found that eating shelled nuts can save you up to 22% of your calories.

Panna cotta

This milky, jiggly dessert is always so tempting. But traditionally, gelatin is used to set the milk, so, unfortunately, panna cotta is not vegetarian.

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