5 surprising things that are NOT vegan.

Posted by smol on

Every day’s a school day here at smol HQ and since launching in 2019 we’ve certainly had our eyes opened at the number of cleaning items containing animal ingredients. 

A big surprise was fabric conditioner

We think it’s one of laundry’s dirtiest secrets that the key ingredient in most brands is actually rendered fat from cows, horses and sheep. It’s a cheap ingredient and sticks to the fibres of your clothing and this is why it’s popular with manufacturers.

We knew from the start that we didn’t want to go down that route so it took a while to perfect our formulation but we knew it would be well worth the wait. Our wonderful fabric conditioner is 100% animal fat-free so you can smell less farmyard and more floral, fruity and fabulous!

vegan, Veganuary or just viewing. 

Whether you’re a committed, full time vegan, testing the waters for Veganuary or just like to know what ingredients you’re using in more detail… picking your way through what’s vegan and what’s not can feel like a challenge.

And you’ll find your research throws up some surprising results.

Check out these 5 items that you might think are vegan, but which often aren’t:

fizzy drinks. 

Many fizzy and soft drinks use dyes from insects to achieve their eye-catching orange and red colours. That may come as a surprise to many of us!
The female cochineal insect feeds on red cactus berries of the prickly pear found in Mexico and South America. The red berries concentrate the colour in their bodies and it is this which gives many foods and drinks their appealing red hue.

It takes around 70k cochineals to make 1 pound of dye.

If you are looking to avoid insects as an ingredient then keep your eyes peeled for words like carminic acid, carmine or cochineal extract.  


Why are marshmallows so light? 

Because they contain lots of tiny air bubbles, held in place by sugar and the proteins from egg white and gelatin. Air doesn’t weigh much of course, so holding it in place is key to making a light weight product where large volumes still weigh next to nothing.

If you’re wanting to follow a vegan lifestyle then egg whites are already not an option. But what about that gelatin?

Gelatin is a mix of peptides and proteins that are collected by breaking down the collagen that has been harvested from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals like cows, chicken, pigs, and fish.

Interestingly, marshmallows did not use gelatin when it was first created. It was actually made with marshmallow root, hence the name.

apple juice. 

Some apple juice is clarified using fish bladders or to give it its proper name isinglass.

Isinglass is a substance that filters the juice, giving it a clearer, less cloudy appearance.

It comes from the swim bladders of certain tropical and subtropical fish. 

In addition some of the apples that have been pressed to make the juice in the first place may have been waxed with beeswax (from bees) or shellac (from bugs) before being juiced.

white sugar. 

Bone char or bone charcoal is used by the sugar industry as a method to achieve the white coloration that they desire for their sugar cane. It is often called natural carbon but it is essentially cattle bone.

Not just white sugar, but even brown sugar processing isn’t free from bone char, since brown sugar is simply made by adding molasses to refined sugar.


Just like apple juice, wines and beer can be clarified using isinglass.

It is used to precipitate yeast out of suspension, leaving beer clear. 

As mentioned, it comes from the swim bladders of certain tropical and subtropical fish and brewers refer to this material as isinglass finings. The finings bind with any floating yeast particles into a kind of jelly, which then sinks to the bottom of the liquid.

It does this very quickly and can also do this repeatedly which is valued by manufacturers of cask-conditioned ales, where the casks may be disturbed several times prior to serving. 

smol to be safe.

Of course all smol products are vegan and cruelty-free, so no insects or fish bladders here!

If you’re following a vegan lifestyle, testing out Veganuary or simply want to use less animal products then check out our FREE TRIALS and sustainable cleaning range, safe in the knowledge there are no animal ingredients.

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