Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not-eating of animal flesh. And should include milk which is liquid animal flesh. But do you keep track of what the industry feeds you by way of animal organs and glands in one form or another?
Different industries use the animal brain, spinal cord, pancreas, stomach, liver, lungs, kidney and ovaries, endocrine, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.
The glands are extracted and frozen. The surrounding fat and connective tissue are trimmed off. They are placed on waxed paper and kept at −18 °C. When the glands arrive at the pharmaceutical plant they are chopped and mixed with different solutions for extraction, or placed in a vacuum drier. After drying, the glands are milled into a powder and made into capsules, or used in liquid form.
Brains and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. This is the raw material to make vitamin D Cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then labelled as “fortified with vitamin D.”
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance, used in the formulation of eye and face makeup, shaving preparations, and shampoo.
Bile is obtained from the animal’s gallbladder. It is used for the treatment of indigestion, constipation and bile tract disorders and to increase the activity of the liver. Bile from cattle or pigs is sold as a dry extract or in liquid form. Some ingredients of bile, such as prednisone and cortisone, are extracted separately and used as medicines.
The liver is the largest gland in animals. The liver of mature cattle usually weighs about 5 kg, while that of a pig weighs approximately 1.4 kg. Liver extract is produced by mixing raw ground liver with slightly acidified hot water. The stock is concentrated into a paste in a vacuum at a low temperature, and is used as a raw material by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of vitamin B12, and as a nutritional supplement used to treat anaemia. Heparin, which is used as a blood thinner in humans, is extracted from the liver, lungs and the lining of the small intestines.
Progesterone and oestrogen are hormones extracted from pig ovaries and used to treat reproductive problems in women and in anti-wrinkle face creams.
Relaxin is a hormone taken from the ovaries of pregnant cows, and is used during human childbirth.
The pancreas of pigs and cows provides insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism and is used in the management of diabetes. If you are diabetic and have been injecting yourself, then you have been keeping yourself well (since 1921) with the use of cow and pig extracts. More than two tons of pig parts are needed to extract just eight ounces of purified insulin.
Glucagon, extracted from the cells of the pancreas, is used to increase blood sugar, and to treat insulin overdoses, or low blood sugar, caused by alcoholism. Chymotrypsin and trypsin are enzymes from animal or fish pancreas, specially cod, and used to improve healing after surgery or injury. Trypsin is used to dissolve blood clots, prevent common colds, and in the food industry to improve the workability of dough in baking, manufacture of sauces to add flavour, cheese, beer and non-allergenic baby food.
Adrenaline or epinephrine is extracted from the adrenal glands of hogs, cattle, and sheep. Injected, it increases blood flow to the muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar.
Arachidonic Acid is a fatty acid taken from animal liver and marketed as a bodybuilding supplement. It is also used in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.
Elastin and collagen is a protein taken from the neck ligaments and aortas of cattle or pigs and marketed as skin anti agers (one of the many fake promises on the market).
Lipase and rennet are two enzymes taken from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. They are used in cheese-making, as clotting agents and in digestive aids. Pepsin comes from pig stomach and has the same uses as rennet.
Palmitic acid and oleic acid are fatty acids which can be obtained from both animal and vegetable fats. Oleic acid is usually taken from tallow, which is animal fat (also used for candles).You will find it in candy, ice cream and some beverages and condiments, soap, shampoos, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks and skin creams.
Oleyl alcohol, sold under the name of Ocenol, is a fat found in fish oils which is used in the manufacture of detergents, as a plasticizer for softening fabrics, and as a carrier for medications.
Panthenol, also called pro vitamin B 5, is a common moisturising ingredient used in skin care products, including cosmetics, hair sprays, shampoos, conditioners, nasal sprays, eye drops, lozenges, and cleaning solutions for contact lenses. It is also recommended by tattoo artists as a post-tattooing moisturising cream. It is taken from animal liver and kidneys, lobster, fish shellfish and chicken, but can also be from vegetables, mushrooms, legumes and lentils.If the product does not specify that it is from non-animal sources then take it for granted that it is.
Squalene is the gooey oil squeezed out of shark livers. The beauty industry loves Squalene because it is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving a greasy residue, so you’ll find it in many moisturizers, sunscreens, and oils, hair dyes. Pristane, obtained from the liver oil of sharks, from which its name is derived (Latin pristis, “shark”), is used as a lubricant, skin and hair conditioner and anti-corrosive agent in cosmetics.
Polypeptides are strings of amino acids linked together. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. Commercially they are derived from animalprotein and are used for hair conditioning
Polysorbate is an amber/golden-coloured viscous liquid made from dehydrated sugar alcohol and oleic acid, a fatty acid found taken from cows, sheep and pigs, but can be from vegetable fats if specifically said. Polysorbates 60 and 80 are the most commonly used in food production. The additive increases the shelf life of baked goods and improve its colour and volume. They are commonly found in baked goods, frozen desserts, and imitation coffee creamers. They are often used in cosmetics to make essential oils soluble in water.
Stearic Acid, when animal-derived, is a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep and, abroad, from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters. It is used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, and food flavouring.
It is not just pigs, cows and sheep that are killed for their organs and glands. Male Musk deer produce a gland oil called musk, which is stored in a hairy pouch just the size of a golf ball, in front of the penis. They are killed for that. The dried gland is chopped into small pieces and left in high-strength alcohol to mature for months. Musk is still used by the fragrance industry. The perfume industry also uses castoreum, which is a secretion from the glands between the pelvis and the base of the tail of the killed beaver.
“Natural Sources” is a very deceptive word. If vegetarian, the food writes clearly that it is from vegetable sources. But, most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources such as organs, glands, fat, protein, and oil. There is a reason that companies write their products in such small type that it is almost impossible to read them, but do try. Your one complaint and insistence on a non-animal alternative could save thousands of lives.
*About the author: Maneka Gandhi is a minister in the Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She is also a leader of animal welfare movement in India. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org