Gelatin is used in many food products often hidden where you least expect it but, does gelatin come from animals and can vegetarians eat gelatin?
Gelatin is a by-product of the meat industry that is made with the bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin of cows, pigs, and sometimes fish. You will find gelatin in many foods as a thickener and a stabilizer that holds foods together and gives them a distinct texture.
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Can You Eat Gelatin As A Vegetarian
Vegetarians can not eat standard gelatin that is derived from animal sources.
Why Can’t Vegetarians Eat Gelatin?
Gelatin is a by-product of the meat industry that is made by boiling bones, ligaments, skin, and tendons from cows, pigs, and sometimes fish.
What Is Gelatin
Gelatin is animal collagen, ground-up bones, ligaments, skin, and tendons that have been processed into a ground-up powder.
Why Is Gelatin Used In Food
Gelatin is used in food as a thicker and stabilizer.
You will often see gelatin used in dishes that contain a lot of liquid but, you still want it to hold its shape.
Desserts like panna cotta are a perfect example.
How Is Gelatin Made
The leftover bones, skin, ligaments, and tendons from the meat industry are then cut up into small pieces and boiled in hot water.
Acid is added to the boiling mixture and is left for days in order for the collagen to be released from the bones.
This mixture is then boiled again at high heat and the liquid is evaporated.
What’s left is a solid chunk that is ground into your gelatin powder.
The gelatin powder is then packaged and sold to food manufacturing companies and to consumers.
Do Some Vegetarians Eat Gelatin
Unfortunately, many vegetarians consume gelatin unknowingly, especially at the beginning of their vegetarian journey.
Many food products contain gelatin as an ingredient although it is not obvious unless you read every label.
You would never suspect that foods like pop-tarts or breakfast cereals would contain gelatin.
Is Gelatin Considered Meat
Gelatin can contain meat and meat by-products, it isn’t considered meat but it absolutely is an animal product just like meat.
Are Animals Killed To Make Gelatin
Animals aren’t killed to produce only gelatin.
Gelatin production is a by-product of the meat industry but, is just as important as the meat itself to those that are profiting off of it.
If I Eat Gelatin Am I Killing Animals
Even though gelatin is a by-product of the meat industry if you eat gelatin you are contributing to the pain, suffering, and deaths of animals.
Any consumer dollar that is spent on animal products supports the entire business.
Is There A Vegetarian Gelatin
Likely, there are vegetarian substitutes that can be used instead of animal-derived gelatin to give you similar results in your finished dish.
What Are The Best Vegetarian Subsututes For Gelatin
- Vegan Gel
What Is Agar-Agar
Agar-Agar is made from pressed algae, it provides a similar texture to gelatin but, maybe a little less jiggly.
What Is Carrageenan
You may notice that carrageenan is used in many foods are a thickener and stabilizer.
Carrageenan is a dried seaweed extract.
The texture that carrageenan provides is a little less solid than you would expect from regular gelatin.
What Is Vegan Gel
Vegan gel is made from a variety of ingredients like vegetable gum, adipic acid, tapioca dextrin, calcium phosphate, and potassium citrate.
Many people say that vegan gel is very similar to regular gelatin when used in recipes.
What Foods Often Contain Gelatin
- Gummy Candy
- Starburst Candy
- Pop Tarts
- Panna Cotta
- Altoid Mints
- Frosted Mini-Wheats
- Roasted Peanuts
- Rice-Krispie Treats
You can need to be very careful when it comes to gelatin, it is often hiding in foods where you least expect it.
It’s a good practice to flip over foods and read the label if you haven’t done it already.
Over ten years into being a vegetarian I still read labels on everything I go to the grocery store looking for animal-derived ingredients as well as hydrogenated oils.
Unfortunately, I’ve unknowingly eaten gelatin in products only to discover it later and be grossed out.
When you think about what’s in gelatin and the process used to create that product it sounds like something you would never want to eat.