Did you know that the fruity, cruelty-free disguised dessert called Jello was once alive and forced into a factory farm death camp? Unless you slaughtered the pig yourself, your tasty dessert is most likely at the expense of animal abuse, which, of course is only if you don’t consider slaughtering animals to be animal abuse…
Gelatin is made by boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones. The most common animals used to create gelatin are cows and pigs. Just mix in a ton of processed sugar and you have yourself a heartless meat dessert. It took me 25 and a half years to discover this disturbing fact. I actually quit eating Jello before becoming a strict vegetarian.
Merriam-Webster can expand further on this basic definition:
Gelatin: Animal protein substance having gel-forming properties, used primarily in food products. Derived from collagen, it is extracted by boiling animal skin and bones. It is commonly produced as granules or as a mix with added sugars, flavors, and colors. Immersed in a liquid, gelatin takes up moisture and swells, causing the mixture to solidify. It is used to make such foods as molded desserts, jellied meats, soups, candies, and aspics and to stabilize such emulsion and foam food products as ice cream and marshmallows. It is nutritionally an incomplete protein. It is also used in various pharmaceutical products. [Source: Merriam-Webster]
Why Avoid Gelatin?
Gelatin is hidden in many food and household products. You probably don’t even realize how much of it you consume on a daily basis. My husband, who eats meat outside of the home, would argue that it is important to use all parts of the animal. Gelatin is made from animal parts that would otherwise be thrown away. I agree with that logic because if an animal has to die, all parts of the animal should be used. Nothing should be wasted.
HOWEVER, if you do not support killing animals for consumption, it is important to avoid gelatin altogether. If you buy food or household products containing gelatin, you are creating a bigger demand for meat products, and therefore increasing the supply and number of animal deaths. Vegetarians and animal lovers alike need to do their best to avoid all commercial products requiring animal slaughter.
Alternative Plant Based Gelatin
If you want to make fancy gelatin desserts like pudding and ice cream or thicken soups and sauces, try substituting in alternative plant based gelatin.
Agar Agar and Carrageenan are commonly used vegetarian substitutes made from algae and seaweed. They are both flavorless, gelling agents. You can also buy Unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts. All of these gelatin substitutes are natural, gluten free, sugar free, unsweetened, and contains no artificial colors or flavors. Most importantly, they are plant based and do not contain animal parts.
If you are taking prescription drugs or herbal supplements, make sure to read the ingredient list. A gelatin capsule is commonly used in pharmaceuticals. If possible, request vegetarian prescriptions from your doctor or buy over the counter medicine or supplements that are labeled vegan or vegetarian.
Vegetarian gelatin options are widely available online and at local department and health food stores. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unfamiliar foods. Just because you were raised on meat products, does not mean you have to continue eating them. There are so many plant based alternatives that work equally as good to create the foods you love.