Is Natural Flavor Vegan And Vegetarian? The Nasty Truth

is natural flavor vegan

Natural flavor sounds innocent and even healthy, but is natural flavor vegan and vegetarian?

Natural flavor is an umbrella term that describes many ingredients, including meat, eggs, and dairy. So it’s not definitely a vegan or vegetarian ingredient although it may be depending on the product.

Many brands use natural flavor to hide ingredients that are not vegan and vegetarian. -And it can also include nasty ingredients that nobody would never buy intentionally. Two of them are beaver anal glands and beetles, among others.

However, sometimes natural flavor merely regular non-based ingredients. So it depends on the individual product. You need to either contact the company or do online research to make sure it’s without animal products.

What Is Natural Flavor

Natural flavor is an ingredient you often see on product labels. It seems very innocent. After all, it says natural right in the name and natural is typically a good thing. -But is it though?

It’s an umbrella ingredient used to describe everything natural. The term natural flavor is not well defined officially. So it merely means ingredients are natural. The issue with that is that natural flavor can be used to describe almost all foods.

Seafood, meat, eggs, are all considered natural in the eyes of the law. So you really don’t know what you get with the natural flavor ingredient.

The FDA does have a Code of Federal Regulations which covers which foods are considered natural. Here’s the full list.

Examples Of Natural Flavor

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Spices
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs, yeast, buds, and other plant materials.

As you may realize by now, natural is not always good. At least not when it comes to US regulation. Natural flavorings may be natural, but they are often with animal products. -And brands are legally allowed to list animal products as a natural flavor.

Another vital aspect of this list is that it can have meat. So even the most innocent looking of foods could have actual meat. One example of natural flavor with non-vegan ingredients is Doritos. View this article about Doritos to learn more about natural flavor in chips.

Determine If Natural Flavor Is Vegan

natural flavor

The main issue is that you don’t know what you purchase. So it’s sometimes impossible to tell if you make a vegan choice. -You can try to contact the brand and ask if there are animal products hidden in the natural flavor.

Some Brands Won’t Tell

However, even then companies don’t have to tell you anything. Many brands highly protect their proprietary ownership of recipes. So they are often reluctant to disclose the hidden ingredients — at least some brands.

Some brands won’t tell you their ingredients, but they will say whether or not it’s vegan. They cannot tell you that it’s a vegan product if it’s not. So that’s the best method to determine whether or not the specific natural flavor ingredient is vegan.

Look Online

Another method is merely to look online. Some brands have websites where they disclose which products are vegan. -And blogs, like this one, have already determined it for many products.

One example is natural flavor in Silk’s vanilla almond milk. I was able to contact the company and determine only vegan ingredients are present. You can read that article here.

Are Natural Flavors Safe

Natural sounds good, but many harmful things are unsafe. For one, I wouldn’t necessarily wrestle a snake, though it’s natural to some extent. So are all-natural flavorings safe?

Luckily is natural flavor ingredient is regulated. So it cannot come from anything that’s outright dangerous. It’s not exactly healthy, either though. It doesn’t make that big of a difference in your diet as a whole.

The Natural flavor ingredient rarely dominates a food that much. There’s a reason it’s called flavor, as it’s used to add flavor. So it’s rarely large quantities -at least in my experience.

Which Products Have Natural Flavor

You may not have noticed it until now, but the natural flavor is everywhere. You see it on the labels of chips, drinks, cereals. It’s a ubiquitous ingredient. In fact, I have researched many food items, where the downfall was the ingredient natural flavor.

It’s especially an issue when companies are not open about the ingredients. Here are some examples of foods that often contain natural flavor.

It’s funny in a way. The less natural your food is, the more chance there is for the ingredient natural flavor to be present. It’s usually foods with many different ingredients, and chips are especially bad in this regard.

These are just some of the examples.

Natural Flavor Labels

You don’t always need to avoid natural flavor; sometimes it’s plant-based. However, it’s essential to know if products have natural flavor because it does require a bit of research to identify the ingredients contained in the term.

So what does a natural flavor label look like? Here’s an example of an ingredient list with natural flavor.

Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Contains Less Than 2% of: Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin a Palmitate, Vitamin D2), Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum, Ascorbic Acid (to Protect Freshness).

Is Almond Milk Vegan?

This specific example is from Silk’s vanilla almond milk. That’s what it usually looks like, and it can mean both animal and plant-based products. In the case of Silk, it’s an entirely vegan ingredient, but it’s not always the case. –Read that article for more information about almond milk the vegan diet.

Beaver Anus Is A Natural Ingredient


So natural flavor is neither dangerous nor is it necessarily an animal product. That may be true, but the ingredient can contain some nasty stuff. One of these is the beaver’s anal gland.

That’s right, natural flavor can legally contain beavers anal gland. An ingredient that nobody would never buy intentionally, let alone eat. -And the worst thing is that most brands would likely not tell you if this is present.

Luckily, it’s not a prevalent ingredient. Mainly because it’s costly and I assume others can easily replace it. So it may not be common, but natural flavor can include some really nasty stuff.

Here are some other nasty ingredients in natural flavor.

  • Coal tar
  • Beetles
  • Rodent hair
  • Sheep secretions

They are not dangerous, but there’s definitely a reason to list any of these as natural flavor in contrast their real names.

Is Natural Flavor Vegetarian

Natural flavor is not always vegetarian. It can include non-vegetarian elements such as meat or seafood, alongside the more obscure, beetles, and anal glands.

So vegetarians need to show caution when products have natural flavor. Contact the company to determine if animal products are included. -Or do some online research.

Many brands have labeled products, either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. So look for online resources like that to make sure your purchase is vegetarian.


Natural flavor is an umbrella term that describes many ingredients that may or may not be vegan. So vegans generally need to avoid this or do thorough research before purchase.

You may also want to avoid this regardless of your diet. It can contain some ingredients that you would never eat otherwise. -And it’s not always possible to get the exact ingredients.

Brands want to protect their recipes, so it’s not definite that they will tell you what the term includes.

Scroll to Top