Annabel Smith

Non-vegans might raise a quizzical eyebrow at some of the products that fall into the 'accidentally vegan' category, but for those who choose to eat a diet free from animal products it is an unexpected bonus when walking down the supermarket aisle.

So much so that ever-growing lists are springing up on websites, forums and even social media sites devoted to veganism.

Claire Miller compiled PETA Australia's very comprehensive online list and says it is good to make yourself aware. Not many 'accidentally vegan' products are labelled as such. In some cases this is because companies can't guarantee what has churned through the industrial sized blenders or baked in the supersized ovens before the 'accidentally vegan' products had their turn in the production process. Companies may also refuse to guarantee whether additives sourced down the supply chain are of plant or animal origin.

"Most [food] labels are very clear and even some have a vegan symbol," Miller says.

However, Miller encourages vegans to be vigilant label-readers.

"Ingredients do tend to change and companies change their ingredients without informing [the public]," Miller warns.

Here are six 'ninja vegan' products that may surprise you…

Classic Oreos


"Milk's favourite cookie" is sandwiched with a "vanilla cream" filling that contains absolutely no dairy. So stock up the cookie jar and skip the dunking. Miller says Oreos are her favourite 'accidentally vegan' product and she uses them in cupcakes. If you're a sweet tooth, Arnott's strawberry shortcake and lemon crisp biscuits are also vegan.

Pringles: barbecue and buffalo wing 


The word barbecue conjures up whiffs of sizzling steaks and charred snags, but when it comes to snack seasonings it's usually vegie-based. Barbecue Pringles may be "bursting with flavour" but they're not bursting with beef… the packet proudly proclaims a vegan tick. Careful chip packet perusal reveals vegans can indulge their inner pseudo-carnivore guilt-free with the Xtreme Buffalo Wing Pringles, although we're guessing that's not going to be high on their to-do list.

Woolworths Homebrand Garlic Bread


A fluffy baguette with lashings of butter, herbs and garlic … that's garlic bread, right? In this case, not quite. Vegetable oil margarine, which contains no dairy, is used instead of the butter. This product does not feature on all "accidentally vegan" lists as emulsifier 481 is derived from glycerol, so there is a slim chance it may contain animal fats.

Praise 99% Fat Free Creamy Mayonnaise


They say you don't make friends with salad - well with this secret salad dressing you'll be sure to make some vegan friends. Traditionally a thick, creamy concoction of egg, oil, and vinegar, Praise's fat-free variety ditches the egg and replaces it with thickeners and vegetable gums.

Frozen pastry sheets


Ever made puff pastry at home? It's layer upon layer of buttery goodness. Not in the case of many store-bought options. Many frozen pastry sheets ditch the traditional butter content and replace it with a vegetable oil based margarine. So while they may not possess the buttery richness of your typical Parisian croissant, these products are good to go. Pampas shortcrust and puff pastry sheets are confirmed vegan (note: avoid the brand's Butter Puff variety).  

What other 'ninja vegan' products have you come across? Share your discoveries in the comments below.