03 February 2012

Gelatin: What every vegetarian and vegan should know about this food additive

An article recently published on blisstree.com has brought some much needed attention to a little-known food additive that all vegetarians and vegans should be made aware of: gelatin.

Gelatin is a flavorless, colorless protein added as a stabilizer, thickener, or texturizer to a long list of foods such as marshmallows, jello, poptarts, candy, and cereal. It is also used as a gelling agent in pharmaceuticals (capsules), photography, and cosmetics. Gelatin is created by extracting collagen from the skins of pigs, cows, and perhaps one day soon soon, humans (seriously).

With the exception of protein, gelatin is essentially devoid of nutrients. And while the heating process seems to eliminate most bacteria, it's always wise to approach any product emerging from the bowels of gruesome factory farms with extreme caution.

Regardless, if you're (understandably) looking to avoid the consumption of gelatin, make sure to first and foremost ALWAYS thoroughly read the ingredient label of any unfamiliar product.

There are also vegetarian-friendly gelatin alternatives, such as pectin, agar (seaweed), and guar gum.

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Jonathan Reynolds
Jonathan is a freelance writer and blogger residing in upstate New York.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/furryscalyman