Why Your Non-Dairy Creamer Might Not Be Vegan

If you're trying to eat an entirely vegan diet, eschewing all animal products and byproducts, you're going to have to become a label detective. There are plenty of foods out there that sound like they should be vegan, but surprisingly, still contain some animal byproduct. And yes, that includes things labeled "non-dairy" at the grocery store.

Dairy is the most common culprit when it comes to foods that sound vegan, but secretly contain animal byproducts. Whey and casein are both byproducts of milk, and tend to be used as binding ingredients or, in the case of whey, to add grams of protein to certain foods as well as mixed into breads and other baked goods. They're tasteless on their own, so you won't know that you're drinking something with casein or whey in it unless you check the ingredients. In the case of non-dairy creamers, casein is often still on the ingredient list (via The Spruce Eats).

What's in coffee creamer?

For example, a common coffee creamer that's non-dairy and lactose-free is Coffeemate's creamer. While it's true that it doesn't contain milk, it does contain sodium caseinate, a milk-derived protein (via Spoon University). For a lactose-intolerant person, Coffeemate is fine. But for a vegan, it's off-limits.

If you are vegan, look for a label that actually says that your non-dairy creamer is, indeed, vegan. It may also be billed as dairy-free, but unless it's specifically vegan, check the ingredient list for those sneaky wheys, caseins, sodium caseinates, and micellar casein (via Coconut Cloud).

It's hard to find a vegan creamer for your coffee because most vegan milks tend to be thin and runny, and require binding and thickening agents in order for them to have that cream-like consistency. But luckily for those who are switching to a vegan diet, more brands are coming out with vegan-friendly creamer options, including Starbucks, Silk, Ripple Foods, and So Delicious (via PETA).