Can Vegetarians Eat Gelatin?

When you see gelatin on a product’s ingredient list, you may wonder if it’s suitable for vegetarians. It’s the primary ingredient in Jello-brand desserts, marshmallows, and gummy candies. Vitamin and medicine capsules also contain gelatin.

So, can vegetarians eat Gelatin? Vegetarians can’t eat gelatin because it is derived from ground-up animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Producers cut up and boil tiny animal parts obtained from cows and pigs to make gelatin. But most kosher gelatin is made from fish bones.

Why is gelatin not Vegan?

As mentioned earlier, gelatin isn’t vegan because it’s made of animal body parts. It comes from dead animals, making it a non-vegan ingredient. Even vegetarians think gelatin is remarkably disgusting.

So, why is gelatin so popular?

It’s an ingredient used as a thickener for certain sweet treats, like gummy candy and marshmallows. 

It’s also used in cakes, pies, and low-fat dairy products to make them thicker.

Because gelatin isn’t vegetarian or vegan, you may want to avoid gelatin-based foods.

Gelatin-Based Foods to Avoid on a Vegetarian Diet


Marshmallows are made from gelatin and sugar. However, there are several brands of vegan marshmallows out there. Be sure to seek those out for all your campfire needs. These vegan marshmallows from Dandies are the most popular.

Gummy candy

This sweet treat also contains gelatin. But you can find some gelatin-free gummy candies on the market, including Annie’s fruit gummies.


Gelatin is in the pop-tarts frosting. But you’ll be happy to know that many unfrosted varieties are vegetarian-friendly.

Frosted Mini-Wheats

Frosted mini-wheats contain gelatin, so try this whole foods brand for a gelatin-free substitute on a vegetarian diet.


If you’re buying yogurt, read the labels. Many reduced-fat yogurts use gelling agents like gelatin to achieve a thick and creamy texture.


Jello contains gelatin and isn’t vegetarian. You can find some vegan Jello that’s made with agar agar instead of gelatin.

Altoid Mints

These also contain gelatin, but Tic Tacs are vegan-friendly.

Panna Cotta

This milky dessert is tempting, but it uses gelatin to set the milk. But if you want a homemade version, this recipe uses agar agar instead of gelatin. And it’s delicious!

Gelatin Alternatives For Vegetarians

Agar Agar

This is a gelatin alternative derived from seaweed. It’s a great choice for vegetarians and is a thickener in jams, vegan jello shots, and panna cotta.

This versatile ingredient can be made thicker or looser by adding more water.


This is a fiber found in the cell walls of many fruits. When pectin is mixed with acids and sugars, it forms a thick gel-like substance. It’s a popular ingredient in store-bought jellies and jams.

Commercial pectin usually comes from apples and citrus fruits. It is available as powder or flakes and is popular as a thickening, gelling, and stabilizing agent.

Compared to gelatin, pectin is gummier and syrup-like. You can use pectin instead of gelatin and vice versa. Read more about substituting pectin and gelatin here. XXXX

Pectin needs to be boiled to Gel. However, there isn’t a set substitution ratio, so following the recipe’s directions is best.


Most home cooks use cornstarch to thicken up sauces and soups, but you can also substitute cornstarch for gelatin in some recipes. You likely won’t want to use cornstarch to panna cotta, but you can substitute it in a recipe that calls for sauce. Keep in mind that your sauce will end up more like gravy than a gelatinous sauce. Also, note that gelatin thickens as it cools, whereas cornstarch thickens as it heats up, so you’ll have to adjust your recipes accordingly.

How to substitute cornstarch with gelatin:

1 tablespoon of cornstarch is enough for thickening one cup of liquid. You need about 1¼ teaspoon of powdered gelatin for one cup of liquid, meaning one tablespoon of cornstarch should equal 1¼ teaspoon of powdered gelatin.

Xanthan Gum

You likely don’t have a bag of xanthan gum sitting in your pantry unless you bake gluten-free items every day. Otherwise, you probably think xanthan gum is one of those mysterious items that show up on ingredient lists of your favorite packaged foods. But xanthan gum is a stabilizer, binder, and food additive known for creating creamy, stable sauces and dessert items. 

Available in most grocery stores, xanthan gum is a great substitute for gelatin when you’re making a creamy, thick pastry filling or a glaze.

Note: You can use 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for every 2 teaspoons of gelatin.

Guar Gum

Another vegetable gum that you can use instead of gelatin is guar gum. This gelatin substitute for vegetarians is made from the guar bean grown everywhere from India to the southern United States. Guar gum is available at most retailers, from Amazon to Walmart and Bob’s Red Mill. 

Guar gum is a stabilizer that thickens without heat but retains its structure when heated. It can replace gelatin in dairy desserts and baked goods. Note that it’s not a good fit for wet recipes and needs other dry ingredients, such as flour.

You can use guar gum instead of gelatin at a ratio of ½ teaspoon of guar gum for 2½ teaspoons of gelatin.


This starch is perfect in place of gelatin in certain recipes. It’s a thickening agent and is best suited to thicken up your liquids. You can make a nice sauce or even a jelly rather than making a firmer dessert item. It’s ideal for making a watery mixture with your arrowroot before adding it to hot mixtures.

If you’re wondering what’s good about replacing gelatin with arrowroot, here’s your answer:

Items thickened with arrowroot can be frozen and thawed, whereas those thickened with gelatin or cornstarch usually become a mess after freezing.

To replace gelatin with arrowroot, use two teaspoons of arrowroot for every 1¼ teaspoon of gelatin.

Vegan Jel

Vegan jel contains ingredients like vegetable gum, carrageenan, and tapioca dextrin. Store-bought vegan jel has the closest texture and consistency to normal gelatin.

Since the ingredients may vary by brand, following the package’s directions is best. The powder is usually mixed with cold water until it’s dissolved.

Instant Clear Gel

Instant Clear Gel isn’t the same as the vegan jel. Instead, Instant Clear Gel is a common product used in canning and baking. It’s a modified food starch resembling cornstarch but not quite the same thing. It thickens foods instantly and can be used as a thickening agent in place of gelatin.

Clear Gel is available in two forms, cook or non-cook: the non-cook version is perfect for refrigerated desserts, and some cooks also use it to stabilize whipped cream. Just note that you won’t get a harder gel, like what you get with a pack of Jell-O. That’s because instant Clear Gel can’t firm up quite that much. So if you’re substituting it for gelatin in a recipe, you may need to play around with the quantities until you achieve the results you’re after.


This comes from a type of red seaweed known as Irish moss and is used as a firming agent in vegan cheese.

Carrageenan is better than gelatin when it comes to making Jelly. It also prevents the fudge from

List of Foods with Vegan Gelatin

Just in case your taste buds are tingling from all that talk of yummy food, here are some vegan-friendly foods that use a gelatin substitute and are safe to eat if you’re vegetarian.

  • Mentos (all flavors)
  • Woolworths Sour Straps
  • Darryl Lea Liquorice
  • Go Natural Organic Liquorice
  • Freedom Vegetarian Marshmallows
  • Skittles
  • Coles Sour Rainbows
  • Chupa Chups
  • Bols Mint Leaves
  • Eco Vital Wine Gums
  • Dominion Naturals Sour Stilts

Frequently Asked Questions

Does all gelatin have meat?

Most commercial gelatin contains by-products of the meat and leather industries. It is derived from pork skins, cattle bones, or split cattle hides. Gelatin made from fish bones offers the best defense against religious objections to gelatin consumption.

Can vegetarians eat Jelly?

People often serve guests a bowl of Jelly after a delicious dinner because jellies are a kid’s favorite. However, jellies contain gelatin derived from animals. To meet the demands of vegetarians and vegans, some manufacturers have begun using starch in its place.

Is powdered gelatin used in all jellies?

Jelly has very little gelatin. Most jellies only include fruit juice and pectin as their main ingredients.

Does Welch’s Jelly contain gelatin?

Fruit snacks made by Welch usually contain pig or beef gelatin. Jellies and jams are all made using pectin, which the firm also uses. Welch uses gelatin in fruit snacks to give a chewy but firm consistency.

Does Hartley’s Jelly contain gelatin?

While dairy is currently absent from Hartley’s jellies, they contain gelatin. Vegetarians should avoid Harley’s jellies because gelatin is necessary for making jellies.

Why aren’t jellies a vegetarian option?

Jellies aren’t a vegetarian option because they contain gelatin, an ingredient derived from cow bones, hides, and pigskin. Gelatin thickens the Jelly and helps it to set. This ingredient is in most jelly crystals and cubes. Some manufacturers may use agar agar to make vegan Jelly.

Why don’t vegetarians have gummies in their diets?

Eating gummies during sleepovers or watching a movie is always a fun way to pass the time. Unfortunately, you’ll find gelatin in most candy-like lifesavers, gummy bears, and worms. And because gelatin in gummies comes from animals, these sweets aren’t suitable for vegetarians.

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