Is Gelatin Vegan? 9 Decadent Vegan Alternatives

Is Gelatin Vegan? 9 Decadent Vegan Alternatives 1

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin, according to dictionary.com, is:

gel·a·tin

/ˈjelətn/

noun

A virtually colorless and tasteless water-soluble protein prepared from collagen and used in food preparation as the basis of jellies, in photographic processes, and in glue.

So is gelatin vegan? To discern whether or not gelatin is vegan, simply explore the definition of the word vegan. A vegan is a person who does not use or consume animal products. An animal product is anything that is derived from an animal. Gelatin is derived from animals, making it an animal product. Therefore, gelatin is not vegan. Although this explains in a cut and dry way why gelatin isn’t vegan, one must delve into exactly how gelatin is made to understand why consuming it does not follow vegan ethics.

How is Gelatin Made?

Collagen is the main structural protein that is found in skin and other connective tissue. Gelatin is made from the skin and connective tissue of animals. Gelatin is yellowish in color and made simply by boiling skin, cartilage, and bones from animals. Taking this a step further, the origins of these bones, cartilage and skins are leftovers from the meat industry. The meat industry quite literally boils pig skins, animal horns, and bones from cows. Not only is this not a vegan practice or final product, but it is also quite disgusting a process to watch. The meat industry has “trash” leftover after animals are slaughtered for meat, but instead of leaving more potential money on the virtual table, they boil these leftovers and make gelatin.

50 Different Vegan Halloween Candies

Without realizing it, vegans and non-vegans are ingesting this substance by consuming products like gelatin (“jello”) desserts, fruit snacks, marshmallows, and some medicines, whether it is an ingredient inside of a liquid or medicine in pill form, a gelatin capsule, or as a gummy vitamin or something similar. Additionally, gelatin is in some glues and can be used in photography processing. Additionally, some people consume or apply gelatin to hair and skin for attempts at youthful appearance and elasticity of the skin, as well as for growth and strength of the hair.

Is Gelatin Vegan

What are the Vegan Alternatives to Gelatin?

Very occasionally, however, a product called agar-agar, which is derived from seaweed, is marketed and labeled as gelatin. It does have similar properties and can be used as a substitute for gelatin; however, agar-agar is NOT actual gelatin, as it is not derived from animal bones, skin, or cartilage. Agar-agar is essentially the vegan version of gelatin. The gelatin in the true sense of the word is NOT vegan. Gelatin is not vegan simply due to the fact that it is made using parts of a living thing.

Here is a chart of common items containing gelatin and vegan alternatives:

ItemVegan Alternative
Gelatin Medicine CapsulesVegetable Medicine Capsules on Amazon
Gelatin Fruit Gel Dessert (brands like Jell-o)Agar powder or Pectin Based Fruit Gel Dessert (brands like Simply Delish Brand Vegan Desserts on Amazon)
Gelatin powderAgar Agar powder, fruit pectin, cornstarch (depending on the purpose of usage)
MarshmallowsVegan Marshmallows (Dandies marshmallows available on Amazon & Trader Joes have packaged brands, many vegan bakeries make vegan marshmallows like Sweet & Sarah’s, or you can make your own using recipes online)
Cook and Serve PuddingInstant Chocolate pudding on Amazon or vegan brands of cook and serve pudding-like Simply Delish and European Bakery Organics
Gelatin Containing CosmeticsVegan alternative brands like ELF, Kat Von D, Beauty Without Cruelty, most NYX products, some Wet N Wild products, learn more
Fruit Snacks & Gummy CandiesFruit snacks and Gummies that use pectin (brands like Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks on Amazon, most Yum Earth Brand, and some of the gummy candies at Ikea
Frosted Cereals (like Frosted Mini-Wheats) and cereals containing marshmallows (Lucky Charms, etc.)Cereals that are not frosted and do not contain marshmallows
Gelatin Containing Candies like Star BurstVegan Alternatives (brands like Torie on Amazon and Howard’s Chewie Fruities

For more candy options check out our article on Vegan Halloween Candy.

Jason

Hi, my name is Jason and I am a vegan with a keen interest in plant-based diet and nutrition. This site was set up to help me explore the research, facts, and myths about veganism. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

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