A vegan lifestyle usually means that one is on the pathway to healthy living. Fresh air, exercise, eating right, making sound financial decisions, having healthy relationships…all of these make a healthy lifestyle.
However, not all food choices are the best choices and when it comes to chemicals and additives in our food we have to be real careful. Many are made from animal byproducts that may be in our food whether we know it or not.
Mono and Diglycerides are pretty common additives, which help extend the shelf life of many products. They are also used to hold food together that would normally not stay together, like water and oil.
One great example is peanut butter. With mono & diglycerides your peanut butter would stay forever rich and creamy, the oils would mesh together and never separate out from the peanut butter. But if you buy REAL peanut butter (where ingredients are only peanuts), you notice the oil is always on the top. You actually have to mix the oil into the peanut butter and if you leave it out a couple days, the oil starts to separate out from the peanut butter again, so you have to remix. Mono and diglycerides prevent the oil separation.
Other places we can find them are:
- other bakery items
- chewing gum
- ice cream
- flour tortillas
What they actually are is a breakdown of fats*. These fats are from animal skins or bones, usually cow or pig, or soy derived. Then are broken down into a white powder to make it easy for transport and food handling. They are also labeled under E471.
Vegans must be careful about label reading. Make sure it is specifically labeled as mono & diglycerides (of vegetable source). When soy is used, however, it will most likely be GMO soy.
Mono and diglycerides derived from vegetable sources will be more expensive.
If possible, this additive should be skipped all together. Mono & diglycerides are a transfat. Transfats have been known to raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of stroke, diabetes and heart attack.
For vegans and anyone health conscious, a general rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, it is probably best to not put it into your body.
*Mono means they have one fatty acid attached to a glycerol molecule and Di means they have two fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Triglycerides have three fatty acids attached to them. Glycerol is a trihydric alcohol having the properties to be able to attach forming the additive.by