Beef fat? WTF?!

As a vegetarian, I am accustomed to reading labels. The ubiquitous chicken is snuck into a lot of products where you'd hardly expect to find it. Canned soups are a literal minefield; vegetable soup is seldom vegetarian. I love black-eyed peas but I know to check the can to ensure that bacon has not been added. Refried beans are often married to lard. The list goes on and on.

One aisle at the grocery store where I thought I was off the hook, however, was the bakery section. No one is sneaking chicken parts into brownies, or at least logic would seem to dictate that they shouldn't be doing so.

Nonetheless, I recently learned that I cannot eat Hostess' 100 Calorie Packs. I had purchased them several times and it never occurred to me to read the label. I like to have a small snack midway through the morning at work, and this seemed to be the perfect option. They're sweet, and most varieties are only one point on the Weight Watchers plan.

My favorite was the chocolate. But oh, such a betrayal.

Here are the ingredients:

Sugar, Water, Polydextrose, Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate {B1}, Riboflavin {B2}, Folic Acid)], Egg Whites, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cocoa, Glycerin, Maltitol Syrup, Cornstarch, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less of: Soy Protein Isolate, Soybean Oil, Corn Flour, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Cottonseed Fiber, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Salt, Chocolate Liquor, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Sulfate, Agar, Locust Bean Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sweet Dairy Whey, Maltodextrin, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Leavenings (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate), Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum, Soy Flour, Natural and Artificial Flavors (Contain Caramel Color), Potassium Sorbate and Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Soy Lecithin.

It's probably for the best that I can't eat them. I don't recognize most of the other ingredients, so I figure that can't be a good sign. I've now replaced this snack with low-fat string cheese or a serving of baby carrots. But still . . . why does a wee little cupcake need to contain beef fat? Why why why? The world has gone mad.