Common Animal Ingredients Found in Supplements

Animal products are snuck into almost everything.

When most people think of veganism, they think of a vegan diet. However, there is more to being a vegan than just abstaining from meat and animal products in your diet. In fact, animal products can be found in just about everything, and if you are serious about wanting to cut them out of your life, then you need to educate yourself about the duplicitous ways animal products are snuck into seemingly innocent products, like supplements.

What’s in a name?

One of the best ways to know what’s in the supplements you’re buying is to always read the label. However, reading the label is only beneficial if you know what you’re looking for. There are many animal derived ingredients found in supplements that have misleading names. So what can you do to protect yourself from accidentally consuming animal products in your supplements? The experts at My VeeGan have come up with this list of animal ingredients to watch out for.

Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate is used as a filler or a coating lubricant. It comes from stearic acid — a fatty acid that is found in chicken, pigs, cows, butter, milk and fish. However, it can also be found in grains and cocoa, but that’s not typically the case. The only way to ensure that the magnesium stearate in your supplements is not derived from animals is to always buy vegan supplements.


Gelatin is probably the most common animal ingredient that you’ll find in supplements. Made from boiling the stomach, hooves and tissue linings of different animals — typically cows or pigs — gelatin is usually used as a filler for gels and capsules, as well as a coating ingredient. Keep in mind that gelatin is also used in many different sweets and desserts, like marshmallows, so watch out for it on more than just supplement labels.


If you take digestive enzyme supplements, then you’ve probably seen lipase on the label. While lipase can be derived from plants, it can also be derived from the tongues of lambs and calves. Like magnesium stearate, there’s really no way of knowing whether lipase is derived from animals or not, so it’s best to purchase only vegan vitamins.


Pepsin is another ingredient that is often found in enzyme supplements. Pepsin is derived from the stomach glands of calves, pigs and sheep. In some cases, pepsin is used in the manufacturing process of soy protein and gelatin, and since it’s only a part of the manufacturing process and not an actual ingredient, it won’t be listed as an ingredient.


Carmine is used for purely aesthetic reasons — specifically as a dye to give supplements a purple, pink or red hue. Carmine is made from the pigment produced by crushing insects, after they’ve been boiled alive and dried out. There are several names for carmine, including cochineal extract, crimson lake, E120, C.I. 75470 and natural red 4.


Lanolin is derived from sheep and other animals. It is a waxy substance that is secreted by the sebaceous glands of these animals, and it helps to make their coats water resistant. Lanolin is often found in vitamin D supplements. When you purchase vitamin D supplement, be sure to check the label for cholecalciferol and calciferol — which are other names for lanolin.

Caprylic Acid

Caprylic acid is typically used as a coating or filler ingredient in supplements, and it is derived from the milk of cows, sheep or goats. There are plant-based sources of caprylic acid, which include palm oil and coconut oil, but since there’s no way to know what the source of the caprylic acid is on an ingredient list, the only way to be sure you’re getting a plant-based ingredient is to buy only vegan supplements.

Let us help you take the guesswork out of buying supplements.

There are many animal ingredients that are snuck into the supplements vegans everywhere rely on, and if you want to be 100 percent sure that you’re not consuming any of them, it’s time to shop with us at My VeeGan. We offer a variety of vegan supplements to meet all of your nutritional needs, including gummies, multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, D3 and more.