Hello, my lovely green hearts! Luna Verdant here, your go-to gal for all things vegan. Today, I stumbled upon a topic that piqued my curiosity and I believe it’s worth discussing in our compassionate community. The culprit in question is E120, a common food additive that might be lurking in your pantry right now!
What is E120?
E120, also known as carmine, cochineal, or carminic acid, is a red coloring derived from an unexpected source – the cochineal beetle. This tiny creature, native to the lush tropical regions of South and Central America, has been the center of a colorful, yet questionable practice. The red pigment we refer to as E120 colour is extracted from the fluid of these beetles. It’s then mixed with substances like tin to enhance its stability, making it a favorite amongst food producers and artists alike.
The Hidden Hue in our Food
This crimson additive finds its way into a plethora of food items. It’s what gives that vibrant red hue to cakes, cookies, and even beverages. It’s even found in more obscure products like sausages, dried fish, and maraschino cherries. One surprising find was its presence in Smarties E120 – yes, those rainbow-colored chocolate candies!
It doesn’t just stop at edibles; E120 has also found a home in cosmetics and art paints, broadening its spectrum of use while narrowing the choices for us vegans.
Is Carmine E120 Vegan?
This vibrant red pigment has been a staple in many a pantry, yet when it comes to veganism, it’s a shade we’d rather not indulge in. Let’s delve into why carmine is off the menu for us, compassionate souls.
The Colorful Origin of Carmine
Carmine has a colorful, albeit unsettling origin. It’s created from the dried and pulverized shells of female cochineal insects. These tiny beings, native to the warm embrace of Latin America, thrive on cacti. The red trail of carmine is an outcome of the death of millions of these insects, harvested annually to grace our food and cosmetics with a touch of red.
A Rainbow of Uses, A Spectrum of Concerns
The extensive use of carmine is a testimony to its popularity. It’s that elusive red in yogurts, ice creams, fruit pies, and even our beloved cupcakes and donuts. The spectrum doesn’t end at food; carmine finds its way into the cosmetics industry, kissing many lipsticks with its red allure. The red hue stems from carminic acid, which forms a significant part of the bugs’ weight, serving as a deterrent against predation by other insects.
However, the crimson charm of carmine comes at a cost not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Our ethics of compassion and harmlessness extend to all beings, making carmine a non-vegan entity due to its insect-derived nature.
Seeking Shades of Compassion
Though carmine might mask itself under aliases like “natural red four,” “crimson lake,” or the more cryptic E120 on food labels, the quest for compassionate alternatives is not a futile one. There’s a palette of vegan alternatives like natural red colors derived from anthocyanins and the humble beetroot waiting to be discovered.
Being aware is the first step towards making choices that resonate with our ethos. As we step away from carmine, we step closer to a world where the colors we enjoy are devoid of harm and full of compassion.
Carmine Side Effects
Carmine has been a favorite among many due to its vibrant hue and natural origins. However, not all that’s natural is benign, and carmine comes with its own set of concerns. Here are some of the side effects associated with this red dye:
- Allergic Reactions: Carmine can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Symptoms may range from mild skin irritation and hives to more severe reactions like asthma or anaphylactic shock. The reactions can be attributed to the proteins or impurities present in carmine preparation, not the carminic acid itself.
- Dietary Restrictions: For vegans, vegetarians, and those with certain religious or dietary restrictions, carmine is a no-go due to its insect-derived nature. It adds a layer of complexity when it comes to food choices, requiring a keen eye on labels to avoid unwanted animal derivatives.
Unmasking the Crimson Veil
Despite its natural badge, carmine’s side effects are a call to action for us to seek healthier, more ethical alternatives. The potential allergenic reactions linked to carmine are a stark reminder that not all natural additives align with our health and ethical standards.
Earlier We Have discussed E Numbers Not Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans
|E Number||Name||Derived From||Commonly Used In||Suitable for Vegans?||Suitable for Vegetarians?|
|E120||Cochineal or Carmine||Insects (Cochineal)||Food Coloring||No||No|
|E542||Edible Bone Phosphate||Animal Bones||Certain Candies, Cheeses||No||No|
|E904||Shellac||Lac Bug Secretions||Confectionery Glaze||No||No|
You can see our educational blog post Navigating Through E Numbers in Food: A Vegan Guide for all the E Number information
Towards a More Compassionate Color Palette
The revelation about E120 was an eye-opener for me, reinforcing the idea that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to making informed vegan choices. It’s essential to delve deeper, question the ‘natural’ tag, and seek plant-based alternatives that align with our compassionate lifestyle.
I’ll be on the lookout for vegan-friendly colorants and share my finds with you. Together, we’ll continue to paint our plates with a spectrum of cruelty-free choices, one compassionate choice at a time.
Until next time, keep coloring your world with kindness!
Love and leafy greens,
We also have blog posts on :Is 19 Crimes Wine Vegan?, Is Daim Vegan?, Is Guar Gum Vegan? , Is Rapeseed Oil Vegan Are Wine Gums Vegan?, Is Ready Brek Vegan?, Any Quality Street Vegan?, Are Bon Bons Vegan?, Are Brain Lickers Vegan?, Navigating Through E Numbers in Food ,Are Pom Bears Vegan?,Are Twiglets Vegan? Is Tequila Rose Vegan?, Are Fruit Salad Sweets Vegan?, Are Polos Vegan?, Is Amstel Vegan?, Is Candy Floss Vegan?, Is Irn-Bru Vegan?,Is No7 Vegan? Are Calippos Vegan?,Are Quavers Vegan?, Are Wotsits Vegan?, Is Elemis Vegan?, Are Drumstick Squashies Vegan?, Are Nik Naks Vegan?, Can You Freeze Vegan Cheese?
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