You’ll rethink everything you thought you knew about going vegan.
Credit: Jennifer Causey

Head to the grocery store, and it will look like eating vegan these days is just too easy.

Everywhere you turn there’s vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise, and even vegan sausage. But there's also a lot of misinformation about how to be—and what constitutes—a plant-based lifestyle.

There are disagreements over whether honey is vegan, and vegans are constantly asking questions about how vegan-friendly specific products are. It can be crazy confusing.

At Cooking Light we’re all about incorporating more plant-based ingredients in our diets. So, we dug into the depths of the internet to find some of the most pressing vegan questions and myths. Some have definitive answers, while others boil down to your personal dietary choices. Here are seven myths about veganism we’ve attempted to put to rest.

Myth: Vegans Need to Take Supplements

When you make any kind of major health change, like cutting out all animal products from your diet, it’s important to discuss your habits with your doctor. Vegans have to be particularly careful they’re eating a healthy vegan diet, which may include supplements if you and your doctor decide it’s best for you. However, many nutrients that were once seen as impossible for vegans to consume, like vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, are more readily available than ever before. You can often get vegan-friendly foods fortified with these vitamins, like cereal, soy milk, and meat substitutes. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about the best way to reach your vitamin and mineral quotas.

Myth: Meat and Dairy Replacements Are Vegan 

Products will often use phrasing like meat-free or dairy-free to appeal to vegan and vegetarian customers, but some ingredients may still be present that make these foods not safe for vegans. Beware of dairy-free cheese products, which often contain casein and whey (milk derivatives). In addition, some popular veg-friendly brands are only acceptable for vegetarians. Be sure to check packages for ingredients like milk and eggs, unless the package is specifically labeled vegan.

Myth: Vegans Don't Eat Oysters or Mussels

Actually, some do! Some people have made the argument that these bivalves are (or should be) acceptable for vegans. Why? When people choose to be vegan, it's often for environmental, nutritional, or ethical reasons. And research has found eating oysters and mussels is environmentally sustainable as well as nutritious, and there's some evidence that they don’t feel pain—which removes some of the ethical concerns.

But, of course, not all vegans agree. Most still consider animals of any kind off limits. The truth boils down to this; your diet is your business. If you feel strongly about cutting out oysters and mussels, then by all means please do. If you want to keep them in your diet, then that’s also your decision.

Myth: Red Candies Aren’t Vegan

It’s true, there is a red food dye known as carmine or cochineal that is made from a bug. But, do not worry. There are plenty of red candies that don’t include the ingredient and instead use red dyes that are free of insects. Some vegan-friendly candies include Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish Fish. Just remember to always check the label.

Myth: Wine Is Vegan

Ingredients wise, wine seems like it would be totally safe for those avoiding animal products. The issue comes in the process of fining, which clarifies the wine making it less cloudy when bottled. Often times, wine makers will use proteins when fining wine that are derived from eggs, dairy, or fish—making the bottle non-vegan. Those who are strict vegans can purchase wines labeled vegan, kosher, or unfined.

Myth: Pasta Labeled “Noodles” Aren't Vegan

Most noodles you buy in the store are going to be simply wheat and added vitamins, so they’re generally acceptable to vegans. On occasion, a boxed dry pasta will list it may contain eggs or dairy products, and this is up to the individual to decide if it’s vegan. Additionally, many fresh pastas (found in the refrigerated section) contain eggs in the dough and stuffed pastas often include cheese or meat. When ordering at a restaurant, assume fresh pasta isn’t vegan, but boiled-from-dry pasta is. Alternatively, you can always check with your waiter if there are eggs in the noodle base.

Myth: Kettle Corn Isn’t Vegan

Consumers typically associate popcorn with butter, so naturally you would assume kettle corn isn’t vegan. The truth is, most kettle corn recipes are actually just vegetable oil, salt, and sugar with corn kernels. So, it’s totally okay to grab yourself a bag. Of course, always double check ingredients as some brands do include butter in their recipe.