215 Things That Are Surprisingly Not Vegan

Photo taken by my very talented friend,  Yuri Kiddo

Photo taken by my very talented friend, Yuri Kiddo

It often happens that when it comes to discussing vegan products, we go right for food.  “Is this dessert made with butter or eggs?”  “Can vegans eat mayonnaise?”  “What’s the deal with honey?” “Do vegans still eat something if there’s only traces of milk solids in something?”

On occasion, however, leather boots, wool clothing, or medicines will come up as alternative topics of animal-product-use chatter, but, for the most part, people recognize that vegan “stuff” usually implies what’s on their plates.

The deeper I dive into learning about what’s going in my body, the more the truth unfolds about what goes into a hell of a lot of other things we use every single day.  Spoiler alert: I’m even talking about animal products in items you use in the shower or on your car.

Companies often do a really good job with their marketing teams to disguise their products’ true contents.  They do this by using over-complicated jargon on labels (can you even pronounce every ingredient used on a label?), distracting customers with award-winning stickers, organic brands, or keeping any indication of animal-product-use off their tags altogether.

When I learned about the surprising reality of things not inherently vegan, I felt really deceived by common household companies that had my trust for years.  My guess is that a lot of other vegans don’t know these things include animal products either.

I feel like I’m swimming upstream a lot of the time as a vegan knowing that so many things we buy and consume are made starting with the death of an innocent animal purely for our benefit and ease of consumption.  The worst part is that most of society lives in ignorance about the harm they are inflicting by simply buying what’s on sale or because it’s the only option that is presented to them.  I used to be exactly like that without even realizing.

This list is not exhaustive and the items on it do not exclusively get made with animal products.  A lot of these items, nonetheless, very often originate from the byproducts of animals raised in captivity solely for our exploitation.  Some items, like medicines, are listed twice, but mainly so you can see that they can derive from various animals and several of their body parts.

Brace yourself; there are some shockers here...


Made with cow fat:

1.     Chewing gum

2.     Candles

3.     Detergents

4.     Fabric softeners

5.     Deodorant

6.     Shaving cream

7.     Perfume

8.     Cosmetics

9.     Crayons

10. Paint

11. Oils & lubricants

12. Biodiesel

13. Plastics

14. Waterproofing agents

15. Cement

16. Chalk

17. Explosives

18. Fireworks

19. Matches

20. Fertilizer

21. Antifreeze

22. Insulation

23. Linoleum

24. Rubber

25. Textiles

26. Medicines

Made with cow milk:

27.     Adhesives

28.     Plastics

29.     Cosmetics

30.     Medicine

Made with cow skin:

31.     Gelatin

32.     Flavorings

33.     Sheetrock

34.     Wallpaper

35.     Adhesives

36. Medicines

37. Confectionary

Made with cow hair:

38.     Air filters

39.     Brushes

40.     Felt

41.     Insulation

42.     Plaster

43.     Textiles

Made with cow bones:

44.     Refined sugar

45.     Charcoal

46.     Fertilizer

47. Glass

Made with cow blood:

48. Pasta

49. Imitation eggs

50. Cake mixes

51. Dyes & inks

52. Adhesives

53. Minerals

54. Medicines

55. Laboratory materials

Made with cow brain:

56.     Anti-aging cream

57.     Medicines

Made with cow hooves/horns:

58.     Adhesives

59.     Plastics

60.     Pet food

61.     Photo film

62.     Shampoo & conditioner

63.     Emery boards

64.     Lamination

65.     Wallpaper

66.     Plywood

Made with the internal organs of a cow:

67.     Instrument strings

68.     Tennis racquet strings

69.     Hormones & enzymes

70.     Vitamins & medical materials


Made with pig ears:

71.     Chemical weapons testing items (due to pigs’ similarity to human tissue)

72.     Dog snacks

Made with pig snouts:

73.     Dog snacks (usually deep fried)

Made with fatty acids from pig bones:

74.     Fabric softener

75.     Shampoo

76.     Candles

77.     Paint

78.     Soap

79.     Corks

80.     Photographic film

81.      Moisturizers

82.     Shoes (bone glue used to improve the texture and quality of some leathers)

83.     Toothpaste

Made from pig bones:

84.     Yoghurt

85.     Marshmallows

Made with pig hair:

86.     Paint brushes

87.     Bread (protein from pig hair is used to soften dough)

Made from pig bladders:

88.     Tambourines

Made from the mucus in pig intestines:

89.     Heparin (used to stop the formation of blood clots)

Made from pig pancreases:

90.     Insulin (closest to human in chemical structure)

91.     Valves for human heart surgery

Made from pig blood (porcine hemoglobin):

92.     Cigarettes

Made from pig collagen, which can be converted into gelatin as a gelling agent:

93.     Ice cream (gelatin regulates the sugar crystallization and slows down the melting process)

94.     Beer (used as a clarifying agent, which reacts with bitter substances and tannins to absorb cloudy elements, leaving clear drinks)

95.     Fruit juice (absorbs cloudy elements to give clear drinks)

96.     Bullets (bone gelatin is used to transport gunpowder or cordite into the casing)

97.     Medicine tablets

98.     Paper (bone gelatin is used to improve stiffness and reduce moisture)

99.      Face masks (with collagen to help reduce wrinkles and lines)

100.     Energy bars (treated collagen is a cheap source of protein for body builders)

101.      Cream cheese (gelatin is used to keep it stable)

102.      Whipped cream (gelatin gives it texture)

103.      Sweets (porcine gelatin is used as a binding and gelling agent to ensure the “right” texture is found in liquorice, wine, gums, chewing gum.

Made from pig waste:

104.         Fuel to produce electricity


Made from chicken feathers:

105.         Plastic (feathers are often heated, mixed with other materials and molded into plastic)

106.         Powder makeup (feather fiber is ground into a powdery talc making the keratin useful in beauty products)

107.         Diapers (used as an absorptive layer)

108.         Pork rind imitations

109.         Dishes

110.          Furniture

111.           Clothing

112.          Circuit boards

113.          Wall insulation

114.          Filters

115.          Planting pots

116.          Hurricane-proof roofing

117.          Shoe soles

118.          Lightweight auto dashboards and glove compartments for fuel efficiency

119.          Mattresses

120.          Jewelry

121.           Animal feed and fertizilation

122.          Bio-diesel

123.          Pillows

124.          Upholstery padding

125.          Paper

Made from or with chicken eggs:

126.         Therapeutic vaccines

127.         Production of antibodies and pharmacological proteins

128.         Marshmallows


Made from sheep wool:

129.         Clothing (shirts, socks, jackets, sweaters, rugs, blankets, and much more)

130.         Yarn for knitting

131.         Tennis ball covers

132.         Oil absorbent in oil spills

Made from sheep bones, hooves, and horns:

133.         Gelatin

134.         Tape

135.         Brushes

136.         Pet food ingredients

Made from sheep skin:

137.         Leather (used in car upholstery, clothing and shoes)

Made from sheep organs & fat:

138.         Tennis rackets (strings)

139.         Candles

140.         Soap

141.         Skincare products (lanolin – an emollient found in sheep’s wool)

142.      Fabric softener


Made from horse hair:

143.         Ropes

144.         Jewelry

145.         Woven fabric

146.         Linen & bedding

147.         String instrument bows

148.         Navajo pottery

149.         Woven vases & baskets

150.         Purses (Angelina Jolie once bought a $5000 horse hair purse from Akris – yuck!)

151.         Hats

Made from horse bones:

152.      Sugar (there’s a reason why it’s as white as bone – natural charcoal aka bone char made from horses and cows is used as a filter to bleach it)

153.      Jell-O

154.      Marshmallows

Made from horse fat:

155.         Fabric softener

Made from horse skin/hyde:

156.         Leather

Made from horse hooves:

157.         Glue

158.         Jello/jelly

Made from horse blood:

159.         Tetanus vaccines

160.         Therapy drugs (such as Premarin)


Made from rabbit hair/fur:

161.         Clothing items

162.         Yarn

163.         Toys

Made from rabbit skin:

164.         Fertilizer

165.         Glue

166.         Leather

Made from rabbit heart:

167.         Sauces & gravy

Made from rabbits feet:

168.         Keychains

169.         Good luck charms

Made from rabbit guts:

170.         Chicken feed

Made from rabbit bones:

171.         Chicken feed

172.         Fake archeological sites for kids

173.         Jewelry

Made from rabbit heads:

174.         Feed for buzzards and birds of prey

175.         Skulls may be used for fake archeological sites for kids


Made from fish:

176.         Oils used for healthcare products

177.         Isinglass (ground-up sturgeon or cod bladders that clarify beverages)

178.         Lipstick & nail polish (the shimmer often comes from herring scales)

179.         Fishmeal & livestock feed (for farmed fish, pigs, chicken, and fur animals)

180.         Oil lamps

181.          Fertilizer

182.         Pet food

Made from mollusks:

183.         Dye

Made from whales:

184.         Bone used for jewelry, ornaments, corsets, umbrellas

185.         Guts used for perfumes

186.         Sperm oil used for leather making, candles, soaps, cosmetics

187.         Whale oil used for processed margarine & shortenings

188.         Tendons used for tennis racquet strings

Made from sharks & rays:

189.         Shark fin soup & other "delicacies"

190.         Skin used for leather wallets, purses, shoes, furniture, and other leather products

191.         Shark teeth, jaws, skin used for souvenirs and jewelry

192.      Energy drinks

193.      Pet supplements

194.      Vitamins

195.      Lotions

196.      Dog chew toys

197.      Lipsticks & lip balms

198.      Deodorants

199.      Sunscreen

200.      Medicinal creams

201.      Vaccines

202.      Face cream & other cosmetics


Made from honey:

203.         Sweetener

204.         Hand lotions

205.         Soaps

206.         Natural cough suppressant

207.         Forms of energy

208.         Some carbohydrates

Made from beeswax:

209.         Candles

210.          Lipstick

211.         Lotions

212.         Shoe polish

213.         Crayons

214.         Chewing gum

215.         Floor wax

Does this list freak you out as much as it freaks me out?  After doing some investigating, I’m blown away by the amount of every-day things we use that include animal skin, organs, hair, guts, blood, and hooves.  Some of the ones that really strike a chord with me are chewing gum, cosmetics, fabric softener, photographic film, toothpaste, and crayons!

As I was researching products created from sea life, I was appalled by the facts about the creatures that die in the name of fishing.  Turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, etc. are often caught in the nets of fishers "just" trying to bring people their sushi.  Our everyday practices and consumptions seem to come with a cruel back-story hidden from our awareness.

Now I feel like I need to do a complete product detox and figure out which products I can use that don’t derive from an animal.  I’ll be sure to write a post about not only cruelty free products (because they’re not always free of animal products, gahh!), but also vegan-friendly products, as I learn about them.

Hopefully this journey of cruelty-free-living that I’ve embarked on is helping you consider or do the same.  The less we contribute to animal cruelty, the more compassionately we can live and exist in this world.

Please leave your comments below about how this article made you feel or anything I may have missed on the list.  I hope this list encourages you to be a more conscious consumer as I strive to be, too.  I will continue to share anything I learn about being a better eco-warrior, health advocate, and voice for the voiceless (the animals).


Lots of love.

Kelsey Powell2 Comments