If you have been checking my stories on social media, you might have noticed that every week I try to bake something. My aim is to improve my baking skills so that if God willing, I have children of my own, I will be able to bake them nice vegan cakes. Especially since in Offenburg vegan cakes are not that easily available as yet. In the meantime, I realised that what makes cake not vegan doesn’t only depend on obvious ingredients such as dairy and eggs. There is more! I have discovered at least 3 insects that are used in baking products, and we find them or their derived ingredients listed as:
Beeswax or Honey
This ingredient is used in food, cosmetics and anything in between. I took a long time trying to understand why vegans have a problem with bee products such as beeswax. The reason is similar to the factory farming issue, large amounts of bees are farmed for their beeswax, honey, propolis. Also, I don’t know if it’s true as I have also been told in Malta this is not done by bee owners, I have heard that so that the swarm remain in the farm’s hive, they cut the wings of the queen bee. If this is true, in my opinion, it’s a cruel act. Beeswax in baking products might be obvious for you and it might not alarm you as much as the next ingredients.
Carmine (E120, C.I. 75470)
Just as beeswax, carmine is used also in food, cosmetics and anything in between. The disgusting thing about it is that it is not something produced by an insect but it is the insect itself. Carmine is squashed cochineal insects. When squashed this insect creates a red colour that is heavily used in makeup such as the famous red lipstick and food such as red velvet cake, candied red cherries or strawberry flavoured products. If this disgusts you, the next time you are about to buy or consume something red, brown, orange, pink or purple check if it contains carmine.
You might know this name from the gel nail polish range. Although some nail products might contain this ingredient, the Shellac gel nail polish range is vegan, from what I could find. Somehow I had the impression that this ingredient is derived from fish or other sea creatures. Probably because it starts with “shell”. I recently found out that shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. I noticed it in baking products when I started looking for sprinkles. These last few weeks I have been scanning every sprinkles packet in Offenburg supermarket shelves, with the hope to find one that is shellac and carmine free. However, there is no such product in Offenburg supermarket as yet, so I will have to scan the Malta supermarkets when I visit next year.
These are the insects I have learned about for now. If there are others you happen to find in baking, please let me know about them.