Being vegan can be difficult sometimes, especially when there are non-vegan ingredients in foods that definitely seem like they would be vegan.
This is why it is important to check the packaging and ingredients list of everything because you don’t want to accidentally eat something you shouldn’t!
The question is, is gelatin one of these foods? Or, is it safe for vegans to eat? We will answer all in this article, so read on for more!
Is Gelatin Vegan?
Gelatin can be found in many types of candy (Check out Are Starburst Vegan?). However, it is not actually vegan!
Gelatin is actually made by grinding down animal parts like ligaments, tendons, skin, bones, and cartilage in order to get the collagen from them.
These parts are boiled and treated with some base or strong acid. After this, the remaining substance is filtered until the collagen is accessible.
Once the collagen has been extracted, it is dried and ground down until it forms a powder.
This powder is sifted to make gelatin before colors and flavors are added. After this, the gelatin is boxed for cooking and baking purposes.
There is actually believed to be a long history of gelatin.
40,000 years ago, in the Upper Palaeolithic period, there is a theory that some hunter-gatherers would boil the bones and skin of animals in order to eat broth that was rich in protein.
There are also references to gelatin in cookbooks from the 1300s!
Then, in the 1800s, there were different cooks and inventors in the US, UK, and France who discovered more ways to process gelatin into both powders and sheets, which allowed housewives to be able to create both savory dishes and desserts at home.
So, if you are vegan, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to eat gelatin!
Is Clear Gelatin Vegan?
You may have seen clear gelatin around and wondered whether or not it is vegan. However, “clear” gelatin is simply gelatin.
As gelatin is a naturally colorless product that has color added to it. So, clear gelatin is not vegan because it is still made with animal-based products like bones, skin, etc.
Can Vegetarians Eat Gelatin?
Vegans cannot eat gelatin because they do not eat anything that comes from an animal.
Meanwhile, vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, but will still eat animal based-products like eggs, milk, cheese, etc.
So, there is some debate as to whether or not vegetarians can eat gelatin.
Gelatin is not suitable for vegetarians because it comes from animal parts, which vegetarians do not eat.
So, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you need to look for alternatives to your favorite gelatin candies (You might also want to check Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?)!
Are Animals Killed To Make Gelatin?
Sometimes, yes. Animals are killed for gelatin. It is often the case that the processing plants for gelatin will get their products directly from slaughterhouses that are close by.
However, there are other gelatin plants that produce their own gelatin that source their gelatin directly from their own slaughterhouses.
Vegan Alternatives To Gelatin
Luckily, there are many vegan and plant-based alternatives to gelatin. They have a texture that is similar to gelatin, so vegans and vegetarians do not need to miss out on this delicious food!
Let’s check out these ingredients below!
Algae is cooked and then pressed in order to make agar! Agar is firm and less wobbly in its texture when compared to gelatin.
However, agar can be difficult to use for inexperienced cooks because it needs to be heated properly to dissolve, and only then can it be used in a recipe.
However, you can find powdered forms of it which may be easier to work with. This powdered form of agar is also easier to measure.
Whereas, with flake and bar forms of this plant-based gelatin alternative you need to first dissolve them in water and then place them in a spice or coffee grinder, before waiting an hour for them to set.
Carrageenan is a great kosher alternative for gelatin. It comes from dried seaweed and can be used in reci0pes for mousses, ice cream, jelly-like candy, pudding, and even soup!
Carrageenan will provide both texture and body to all of these recipes. It does not have much flavor and it sets in a much softer way than gelatin.
Carrageenan melts in the mouth, making it perfect for desserts even for the most enthusiastic of meat-eaters!
Tapioca (Also check out Is Boba Vegan?) is an excellent plant-based alternative to gelatin but, much like agar, it needs to have the right consistency to work well in recipes.
Here are some more examples of vegan and plant-based gelatin substitutes. You can find all of these in supermarkets or in online stores:
- Guar Gum
- Xanthan gum
Are There Any Brands That Sell Vegan Gelatin?
Unfortunately, no. Vegan gelatin does not yet exist and so there are no brands that sell it.
However, there are many alternatives to gelatin that can be found in your local grocery store, supermarket, or online.
Gelatin is a product that can be found in various candies (Also check out Are Skittles Vegan?) and desserts, providing lots of fun shapes and textures.
However, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you will have to give them a miss! This is because gelatin is in fact not vegan, and it is not vegetarian, either.
Gelatin is made from animal bones, cartilage, skin, and other parts, which are boiled and treated in order to extract collagen.
The collagen is then dried and ground until it makes a powder, and then color and flavor are added to this powder to make gelatin.
So, it is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians because neither of these groups will eat the parts of an animal.
However, there is some good news! There are plenty of vegan gelatin-like alternatives on the market today.
While vegan gelatin does not yet exist, vegans and vegetarians will still be able to use ingredients like tapioca, agar, and carrageenan to make their favorite desserts!