Animal Ingredients and E-numbers

A lot of animal additives that are used in foods and cosmetics go by a different name so you may not know they are not vegan. Look out for these ingredients:

  • Beeswax/E-901: A wax made by bees. Some vegans don’t see beeswax as not-vegan because it didn’t come from the bee itself, while others avoid it because it exploits bees. Can be found in some foods as a glazing agent (jelly beans, candy coated sweets, etc.); found in other products such as candles, lip balm, and lotion.
  • Carmine/cochineal/E-120/Natural Red 4: Made from crushed cochineal beetles. Used in red food colouring. Often found in food and sweets that are red and pink.
  • Casein: A milk protein that is mostly found in dairy products. It was once widely used in many soy cheese alternatives. That is rare now but always check the label as it has been in the ingredients of some foods labelled “dairy-free” before.
  • Collagen: Made from skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. Often used as lip fillers, as you may already know.
  • Gelatin/E-441: Made by boiling the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. Found in a lot of gummy sweets, including Haribo and marshmallows. I have found Beef Gelatine in strong mints, and Fish Gelatine in those silver ball cake decorations.
  • Honey: Similar to beeswax, it doesn’t exactly come from bees but is made by bees so can be seen as exploitation. It is found in some cereals, granola bars, and various other sticky/sweet foods.
  • Keratin: The protein that is the main constituent of hair, feathers, wool, horns, claws, hoofs, etc. Found in a lot of hair products.
  • L-cysteine/E-910/E-920/E-921: An amino acid synthesised from hair, feathers, horns, etc. Used as a proving agent and preservative in some factory made breads.
  • Lactose: A sugar found in milk. Not to be confused with Lactic acid, which is vegan friendly.
  • Lanolin/E-913: A waxy, greasy substance found on sheep’s wool. Can be found in moisturisers and cosmetics, and some multivitamins and fortified food.
  • Lard: Animal fat. Can be found in baked goods.
  • Shellac/E-904: A resin secreted by the lac beetle. Found on the coating of sweets (Jelly beans and tic tacs come to mind).
  • Tallow: Animal fat. Can be found in soap, crayons, candles, and a small amount is present in the new UK bank notes.
  • Whey: A milk by-product. Found in some cereals, protein bars and powders, and crackers.
  • Vitamin D3: can be made with Lanolin. If the product doesn’t specify that it is vegan, it probably isn’t.

If I have missed any out, please let me know in the comment section.

I will soon be doing a series of lists of vegan alternatives to certain foods like different types of meat and cheese. Let me know what you would like to see on those lists.

Farewell, until we meet again.


Sources and further reading

Unicorn cake

A more extensive look at the steps I took to make this cake. I completely made it up as I went along.

Check out the video I made of the process here!

To start, I drew out a quick sketch and added colour and annotations to say how I wanted it to look.

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I wanted a rainbow for the layers and silver icing in the middle to be like unicorn blood from Harry Potter. It was a good in theory but did not turn out so well in practice. The icing just turned a pale grey.

After I figured out all the details, I had to find a good vanilla cake recipe because all the cake recipes I have used in the past have ended up being crumbly and dry. I needed one that would hold up 7 layers. I found one from Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery. This recipe is the best cake I have ever had! Highly recommended!

So I had the plan and the cake, all I needed was the right sized cake tins, colour for the layers and icing, and fondant icing for the ears. I used regular fondant icing from Tesco. I knew that the colour would have to be strong and not too thin a liquid otherwise it would mess up the mixture (been there before with a red velvet cake). I opted for some gel food colouring from amazon which judging by the pictures, was decent quality. I also ordered 8-inch sandwich tin, silver gel colouring, and gold powder colouring. By this point, I decided to do a chocolate-filled ice cream cone for the horn, instead of icing, as it was easier and had a really cool pattern on it.

I had everything prepared so I waited for my birthday to come.

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I made the cake layers one mixture at a time so I wouldn’t have cake mixture sitting around with nowhere to put it. It worked out better that way because I had time to prepare the next thing and do some cleaning up.

As the cake layers were cooling, I made the “silver” icing (100g butter, 200g icing sugar, too much silver colouring which didn’t really make a difference) and melted a bit of jam. I put jam and icing on each layer, just enough to make it stick together, any more then the cake would have been unnecessarily sweet. I assembled the cake on a cake board on a Lazy Susan so it could spin while I was decorating it. Whatever icing didn’t go in the middle, I used to kind of cement any holes or breakage and left it overnight to set because decorating was another day of work.

To decorate, I started with a layer of white buttercream icing all around. To do that, I used about 100g TREX and 100g stork with 400g icing sugar (I may have put more, I didn’t really measure it), and a tiny bit of soya milk (possibly about a teaspoon). I used a palette knife to smooth it out, something I hadn’t done prior to this cake and it didn’t go spectacularly well.

Next, I melted some chocolate to fill up an ice cream cone, that I would use as the horn. I put a bamboo skewer through it and put it in the fridge. Once it was set, I covered the cone in some gold powder (which didn’t really come out very gold, unfortunately) and placed it in the middle of the top of the cake.

I then used royal icing to mould the ears and eyes. This was actually pretty fun because I like to sculpt. I broke off two bits of icing about the right size and cut off bits to make it into the right shape. Then, I smoothed out the surface and coloured the front bit with gold powder. I put a cocktail stick through them both and placed them next to the horn.

Finally, the hair. It was so hard and it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, to be completely honest. But it still looked good so whatever. I made some buttercream icing (1 part margarine, 2 parts icing sugar) and mixed some colours in with it. I think I did 50g margarine to 100g icing sugar per colour. I put them into a piping syringe, like this one, and just piped some spirals all over the place. My hands were very tired by the end of it.

The final result:       20181030_214544.jpg20181030_214616.jpg20181030_214915

If you want me to keep making fun cake projects, be sure to like this post. If you have any ideas of what cake I could make next, or any other recipes you want me to try out, leave a comment below.

Farewell, until we meet again 😄