Gelatin has become a staple in many of our diets, but do you what it really is? According to PETA, gelatin is protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. In essence, it’s made primarily from the stuff meat industries have left over —pork skins, horns, and cattle bones! Technically not even a food source, it’s used as a thickening agent in a number of products and gives food a soft, squishy consistency. I know it’s gross and I hate to rain down on your gummy bear parade, but you and your kids really shouldn’t be eating this stuff. I don’t even know why it’s legally permissible to be considered a “food” product.
Big Problems for Vegetarians and Vegans
Gelatin is not vegetarian and is certainly not vegan. Sadly, millions of vegetarians and vegans could actually be using animal commodities unknowingly as the list of products that contain gelatin seems to grow everyday. Be certain to only buy certified vegan, animal-safe body products and make sure to read your food labels!
Gelatin is in What!
Foods Containing Gelatin:
- Marsh mellows
- Pop-tarts w/ frosting
- Mini Wheats
- Other frosted cereal
- Skittles, Star-bursts Jr, mints, Trident gum, M&M’s, Snicker bars
- Gummy worms/bears
- Frozen vegetables (in a bag)
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Coffee, milk substitutes
- Hostess cupcakes- Hostess brand
Gelatin is also used in fat reduced foods to simulate the feel of fat and to create volume without adding calories.
Non-Food Items Containing Gelatin:
- Shells of pharmaceutical capsules.
- Thickening agent in many pharmaceuticals
- Implantable medical devices, such as in some bone void fillers.
- Various ointments.
Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly Alternatives
Vegetarians and Vegans don’t fret! There are some fantastic vegetable-based alternatives to replace gelatin so you don’t have to give up every tasty treat out there. Alternatives to gelatin include non-animal gel sources such as agar-agar, carrageenan, pectin, konjak, and guar gum.
Cooking With Agar
For those of you who make most of your food try using agar – it is made from seaweed and comes in powder or flake form available at any good health food store. Like gelatin, agar is full of protein and contains the rich array of minerals one would expect from seaweed.
To use agar substitute one tablespoon powdered gelatin for every tablespoon of powdered agar. When cooking with agar consider the following:
- Soak agar your liquid recipe for about 15 minutes then bring it to a boil. Afterwards, place the heat on simmer and stir until the mixture is completely dissolved. The agar-liquid mixture gels as it cools.
- Acidic foods weaken agar’s gelling power, so if you’re firming an acidic liquid use more agar.
- The enzymes of certain fruits will break down agar. So, like your typical gelatin recipes, you may want to use canned fruits instead because they are pre-cooked.