Health Is Beauty

Is That Vegan? Surprising Products (Dryer Sheets and Tattoos?) with Animal Ingredients

Go Vegan


I really don’t know how vegans did it in a pre-internet era. That’s how I constantly check everything that I buy, eat, or wear. My smartphone has saved my (coconut) bacon a number of times. It’s incredible how many things have animal products in them. I was somewhat prepared for this by my partner’s gluten-free lifestyle; keeping gluten out of our diet has taught me to question the ingredients in everything, especially processed foods.

But I’ve discovered animal ingredients in some of my favorite non-food items. I was pretty upset, but I know that veganism is not about perfection, it’s about doing your best. So, for my fellow vegans out there, I have compiled a list of sneaky non-vegan ingredients I’ve found in some of my favorite things. But, all is not lost; I have also provided some handy substitutes.


Vegan Tattoo


As you may know, I love my tattoos. I have quite a few, and I plan to get many more (probably one that celebrates veganism, too). Unfortunately, some of my tattoos (and most people’s) may not be vegan. Tattoos, especially those with black ink, have a lot of non-vegan ingredients.

What to watch out for:

Glycerin—Animal fat, used as a carrying agent in inks. Some inks are made with vegetable glycerin, those are obviously okay.

Lanolin—In almost all tattoo transfer paper and many aftercare ointments.

Bone charcoal—Used to make pigment in most black inks.

Beeswax—In many aftercare ointments.

Shellac— Insect resin, used in inks.

What’s the solution?

The following ink companies are listed as vegan on their websites: IntenzeEternal Ink and Stable. If you don’t have a vegan tattoo artist, I suggest finding one who knows about tattooing for vegans, so they can tell you if their in-house supplies are suitable. Make sure they know about the transfer paper; perhaps offer to buy and bring your own, or get them to freehand a tattoo. You may want to bring your own soap, instead of the green soap (which may have glycerin as well). Definitely bring your own razor; the moisturizing strip on many razors has glycerin (glycerin really gets around)!




You may have noticed that wine bottles don’t list any ingredients. Be very wary of things that do not list ingredients, kids! While my knowledge of the process can be summarized as “grapes + time = wine,” I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. Part of the process includes “fining” the wine, which removes things like sediment. This process traditionally involved animal ingredients, but many wine producers are moving towards a better method.

What to watch out for:

Blood—Yes, I’m serious. This is now illegal, but if someone offers you a vintage bottle that says sangre de toro (“bull’s blood”), run!

Casein—A protein found in dairy milk.

Chitin—Not all chitin is sourced from insects, but most is. Mmm… Bug wine!

Egg Albumen

Fish Oil

Gelatin—From cow bone marrow.

Isinglass—From the dried swim bladders of fish. Lovely.

What’s the solution?


What the heck is that?

Barnivore is an online index of almost twenty thousand wines, beers, and liquors. If I need to find a vegan bottle in the wine store, I just type the name into Barnivore and it will tell me whether the brand is vegan. Barnivore has got a mobile app in the works and I. Can’t. Wait. It’s kind of a pain in the tail to type every wine name into Barnivore when ordering a drink at a bar, so I go in prepared with no fewer than three wine options that I ask for. If that fails, I get my favorite cocktail: Grey Goose & Tonic. Grey Goose is vegan; all is right with the world.




I love candles; I keep at least one in every room. I like to burn candles when I’m writing or reading, or snuggling with the boyf’ and cats. I love the crackling sound of the wick and I love the delicious scents. I even love blowing out the candles, because the charred wick smell always makes me think of birthday cake. Candles are good for your soul. But most candles are not vegan.

What to watch out for:


Stearic Acid—a fatty acid; it can be sourced from vegetables too, but not often.

Tallow—Animal fat. Eww. Seriously. Even if you eat meat, I think that’s a little gaggy. “Ooh, mood lighting… and the intoxicating scent of bubbling lard.” It makes me think of the liposuctioned fat soap from Fight Club… By the way, check your soap for these ingredients, too.

What’s the solution?

This is one of those situations where if I don’t know, or can’t figure it out, I just don’t buy it. Like wine, the ingredients are usually not listed on candles. When I want a new candle, I look for brands that I know are vegan. I just bought the basil-scented soy candle from Mrs. Meyers. It doesn’t smell like basil, but it smells yummy and clean and not like bubbling animal fat. I also picked up their lavender hand soap, which doesn’t really smell like lavender (but still smells really nice). All Mrs. Meyers cleaning products are vegan, by the way. Yankee Candles are all vegan, except for the beeswax tapers, but all of their candles smell wayyyy too strong for me. And if you want to support an an indie candlemaker, there are tons of vegan candles on Etsy.

The Honorable Mention for Alarming Non-Vegan Product:

Laundry Day


Dryer Sheets! Yes, really. Almost all dryer sheets list “Fatty acid” as an ingredient. Guess whose fat it is! We don’t actually use dryer sheets (we certainly wouldn’t after this). We skip it entirely and our clothes are just fine. I’ve heard some people use a plastic ball to aerate their clothes in the dryer. I don’t think it’s necessary, but most of my clothes don’t get too wrinkled. You do you, chickadees. For the Eco-Chicks that want a vegan dryer sheet, Honest makes them.

(Ed Note: Dryer sheets are also really, really bad for local air quality and negatively affect anyone with asthma or other breathing issues since the spew toxic, sometimes carcinogenic junk in to the air we breathe. Another solution to dryer sheets is to simply pick or buy untreated lavender flowers, dry them out a bit, cut them up and sew them into a pouch made from rags. Trader Joe’s also sells pre-made versions of them in papery bags that are biodegradable—they last for 10-12 dryer cycles or longer and also make great gifts!)

So, Eco-Chicks, have you ever been surprised by a “secret ingredient” in something? Food item or otherwise? Do you have any favorite vegan brands that you want to share? Tell us all about it in the comments here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

Veronica Goin is the editorial intern at, and a freelance writer living in The Hudson Valley. She has a BA in English and in Visual Art, because she was incapable of choosing between the two. In her free time, she can be found conducting and photographing vegan and gluten-free kitchen experiments. She likes to hike with her partner, rescue stray cats, get tattoos, collect Stephen King books and vintage dresses, and contemplate feminist themes in everything from Jane Austen to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. She is on a holy quest for the perfect vegan sunscreen. Veronica shares way too many kitty pictures on Instagram: @veglovesgf And gets overwhelmed on Pinterest: Asks questions on Twitter: @veglovesgf And writes recipes on