Is Gelatin Vegetarian? What Is It Made From?

Gelatin is not vegetarian.

For the most part, vegetarians avoid foods made from/with animal parts or products. Because Gelatin-based foods utilize animal parts, they are not considered vegetarian.

If you’re a vegetarian, gelatin-based foods and snacks should not be a part of your vegan-friendly diet.

Gelatin is an animal-based ingredient commonly used as a thickener for sweets, jello, marshmallows, gummy candy, etc. In addition, Gelatin is a significant ingredient in some cosmetic items like shampoos and face masks.

Cow/pig ligaments, tendons, and skins are some animal parts that produce Gelatin.

Here’s more information on this animal-based product and some plant-based substitutes.

Is gelatin vegetarian?

No, if there’s anything Gelatin is, it is far from being vegetarian. Here’s why.

Gelatin is majorly an animal-based protein. It is made predominantly from boiling animal body parts such as the skin, ligaments, tendons, and bones of cows, buffalo, and pigs. The above body parts are collected and used to make Gelatin.

Since Gelatin is an animal-sourced food, it is not considered vegetarian, unlike conventional vegan foods, which are plant-based.

Types of Gelatin

Gelatin is classified in specific ways, from the manufacturing process to physical appearance, to sources, flavors, and uses.

Manufacturing process

Gelatin is of two types; Type A and Type B, depending on its pretreatment.

Type A gelatin

Generally sourced from pigskin, type A gelatin usually has an isoionic point between 6&9 because of its acid pre-processing.

Type B gelatin

The isoionic point of Type B gelatin is usually at five because it was pre-treated with alkali. Beef skin is the primary source of type B gelatin.

Physical appearance

The physical appearance of Gelatin also contributes to its classification. There are mainly two types of Gelatin; sheet gelatin and powdered Gelatin.

Sheet gelatin

Also known as leaf gelatin, sheet gelatin physically resembles a thin sheet or leaf. Cooking with sheet gelatin is pretty straightforward. Soak one sheet in one cup of water and squeeze out the sheet after it is well soaked.

Powdered Gelatin

Powdered Gelatin, as the name suggests, comes in a powdery form. Therefore, it is imperative to know that mixing the gelatin powder with water activates its thickening power when cooking with powdered Gelatin.


This classification depends on where the Gelatin is from.

  • Bovine Gelatin: Gelatin is derived from the hooves and bones of cows.
  • Porcine Gelatin: Gelatin that comes from collagen in pig body parts.
  • Kosher/fish gelatin: Gotten from the hydrolysis of fish bones and fish parts.
  • Poultry gelatin: Gelatin extracted from different parts of poultry.


  • Unflavored Gelatin: This is also known as pure Gelatin. It doesn’t contain extra additives like sugar, colors, or artificial flavoring.
  • Flavored Gelatin: Flavored Gelatin is not pure because it usually contains additives like flavoring, sugar, coloring, etc.


Gelatin can fall into any of these four categories based on its usage.

Pharmaceutical gelatin: Such Gelatin produces hard gel and soft gel capsules/medicines.

Photographic Gelatin: These are Gelatin used mainly for photographic purposes only. They come with a photosensitive coating that enhances the preservation of hard copy photographs.

Food-grade Gelatin: Food-grade Gelatin comes from animal skin and bones. It is safely processed, as its sole purpose is for human consumption.

Industrial Gelatin: Gelatin that falls under this classification is sourced from animal leather and has a lot of impurities. The impurities don’t pose a health risk because such Gelatin is essential to the printing and furniture industries.

What is Gelatin made from?

Primarily, Gelatin is from animal parts.

Gelatin comes from collagen found in the bones, ligaments, skin, and tendons of animals such as buffaloes, cows, and pigs.

The first step in making Gelatin is slaughtering the animals. Then the body parts of interest are collected and boiled in water, resulting in Gelatin.

Is there vegetarian Gelatin?

No, there isn’t any vegetarian gelatin.

There is, however, a plant-based product marketed as Gelatin. It is called agar-agar. Agar-agar is not Gelatin; it is only a gelatin substitute.

Agar-agar is from seaweed. Fun fact, the seaweed is boiled till it becomes gel-like, then squeezed, dried, and pulverized to firm agar-agar powder.

Read also: Is Chicken-Flavored Ramen Vegetarian?

Best vegetarian/vegan gelatin substitutes

If you’re maintaining a vegan-friendly diet, here are some vegetarian/vegan gelatin substitutes to consider:


Agar-agar is by far the most popular vegetarian gelatin alternative. It comes from seaweed. This tasteless, odorless, and colorless thickening ingredient usually comes in three different forms; a flake form, a powdered form, and a bar form. Agar-agar’s usage differs for each type. Therefore, when substituting agar-agar for Gelatin, you’d have to tweak your recipe. What we mean is:

  • Equal size of powdered agar-agar in place of Gelatin. If your recipe says one teaspoon of Gelatin, use one teaspoon of agar-agar.
  • Half a bar of bar agar-agar for one teaspoon of Gelatin.
  • One tablespoon of agar-agar flakes in place of one teaspoon of Gelatin.

Vegan gel

The vegan gel comes from vegetable gum and performs well in any recipe requiring Gelatin.

You should mix the vegan gel powder in cold water until it fully dissolves to activate the vegan gel. Also, 1 ½ teaspoon of vegan gel is equivalent to a teaspoon of Gelatin.


Carrageenan also goes by carrageen and Irish moss. Carrageenan is sourced from dried seaweed and gets its gelatin-like consistency from being boiled. Carrageenan comes in a powdered form.

When using carrageenan, it is best to mix it with water and heat it before use.

We recommend that you purchase carrageenan when it is still a moss. Then, you soak the carrageenan and leave it till it swells before adding the liquid you want to use for your recipe. When you’ve done all this, you boil the mix and then remove the moss. An ounce of carrageenan is equivalent to 1 ¼ teaspoon of Gelatin.


Pectin is a type of fiber that exists within the walls of certain fruits like apples and citrus fruits. When pectin is boiled or heated with certain sugars and acids, it becomes a gel-like substance similar to Gelatin. Pectin comes in powdered and flakey forms.

Before you use pectin for cooking, you should boil it. Pectin is an excellent vegan gelatin substitute when making desserts.


Konjak is a plant that resembles a yam. When Konjak is dried and pulverized, you get what is known as konjak powder, which makes an excellent vegan alternative for Gelatin.

Guar gum

Guar gum is a widely known vegetable gum made from the guar bean. This vegetable gum works excellent for thickening baked foods and dairy desserts but not liquid-based foods like ice cream.

Guar gum is in both powdered and flakey forms. Half a teaspoon of guar gum equals 2 ½ teaspoons of Gelatin.

Corn starch

Cornstarch is another creative substitute for Gelatin, especially for sauces that call for Gelatin. Although the consistency of the cornstarch is not as rubbery as Gelatin, it still does an excellent job of thickening foods. A tablespoon of cornstarch is roughly equivalent to 1 ¼  teaspoon of Gelatin.

Read also: Is HelloFresh Worth It For Persons, Families And Vegetarians?

Is bovine gelatin vegetarian?

No, there is nothing remotely vegetarian/vegan about bovine Gelatin.

Bovine Gelatin comes from the bones and hooves of cows, and this process is not complete without the death of cows.

You should not include any food where bovine Gelatin is an ingredient in vegan-friendly foods.

Is halal gelatin vegetarian?

No, halal Gelatin is not vegetarian.

Halal Gelatin is not from pigs. Since halal Gelatin can be from any other animal aside from pigs, it is not vegan or vegetarian.

Is beef gelatin vegetarian?

No, beef gelatin is not considered vegetarian or vegan. Here’s why.

Beef gelatin is sourced from cattle body parts and thus doesn’t go with the concept of vegan-friendly foods.

Is gelatin vegetarian-friendly?

No, it isn’t. Body parts of dead cattle and pigs are boiled in water to make Gelatin.

Hence, Gelatin does not belong in vegetarian-friendly diet options because it goes against the primary premise of vegetarianism.

Is porcine gelatin vegetarian?

Porcine Gelatin comes from the collagen found in pigs, so no, porcine Gelatin is not vegetarian.

Any food produced with porcine Gelatin is not suitable for vegetarian diets.

No gelatin is vegetarian-friendly; there are only vegetarian-friendly gelatin substitutes, some of which we recommended earlier in this article.

Is kosher gelatin vegetarian?

No, it is not. Kosher Gelatin doesn’t automatically assume the vegetarian-friendly status because it is called kosher.

Kosher Gelatin is not suitable for vegetarians because kosher Gelatin comes from boiling fish bones.

Kosher Gelatin refers to the Gelatin not sourced from pigs and cattle.

Is soft gelatin vegetarian?

Soft Gelatin isn’t vegetarian.

Softshell gelatin capsules come from the hydrolysis of collagen from certain animals like fish or swine, making it an animal-based substance unsuitable for vegetarian consumption.

Is fish gelatin vegetarian?

Fish gelatin is not suitable for a vegetarian diet. As the name suggests, fish gelatin comes from collagen-rich fish body parts or fish. So, fish gelatin is not vegetarian since it is an animal-based substance.

Fish gelatin will sit well with pescatarians, whose diet choices include fish but not meat.

Is Knox gelatin vegetarian?

No, Knox gelatin is not vegetarian. Knox gelatin originates from the collagen found in pork bones and skin. Alternatively, it stems from fish. Either way, it is animal-sourced, which is not ideal for vegetarians.

Is succinylated gelatin vegetarian?

No, it is not. No form of Gelatin is suitable for vegan or vegetarian consumption.

Succinylated Gelatin is also known as gelatin succinate or modified food gelatin.

Succinylated Gelatin is a colloidal plasma volume used in expansion, especially in medicines and blood transfusions.

This substance is not ideal for vegetarians because it stems from bovine collagen (the collagen from the bones and the hooves of cows).

Is gelatin vegetarian food?

No, Gelatin is not an ideal addition to vegetarian diet options.

Any gelatin or gelatin-based food or medicine predominantly emanates from animal remains, making it unbefitting for vegan/vegetarian consumption.

Is gelatin vegetarian safe?

Not at all. In the real sense, vegetarians avoid eating animal flesh and animal-based products. Since Gelatin is an animal-based substance, it will be unsafe for vegetarians.

Is gelatin vegetarian? Reddit

Several Reddit comments later, Gelatin remains a non-vegetarian option.

Some vegetarians on Reddit have expressed their belief that gelatin and gelatin-sourced substances are not suitable for vegetarians because they come from animal parts.

Is food-grade gelatin vegetarian?

Not at all. Food-grade Gelatin also comes from the hydrolysis of animal parts.

Food-grade Gelatin is Gelatin that is safely processed for human consumption.

Food-grade Gelatin gives marshmallows, candies, jellies, Jams, gummies their jello-like feel and thickens gummies, yogurt, and ice cream.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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