What Is Gelatin Made of, How Is It Made and Why Is It Bad?

Gelatin in candies
Photo by Yes and Studio on Unsplash

If kids knew about the animal suffering that goes into making their favorite candy, cake, or jello, it’s likely they would never touch these things again. Gelatin is one of the grossest animal products and actually one of the most troubling. It’s also one of the last that people tend to give up when moving away from animal products, because it is so hidden away and far removed from the animal it came from, so it’s harder to make the connection.

Here’s what’s actually in it and why we really don’t need to eat it…

Is Gelatin Vegan or Vegetarian?

Gelatin is derived from decaying animal skins, boiled and crushed bones, and the connective muscle tissues of cows and pigs who were killed in slaughterhouses. So no, it is neither vegetarian or vegan.

What Is the Main Ingredient in Gelatin?

The main ingredient in gelatin is animal protein, extracted by boiling the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin from dead animals.

What Animal Is Gelatin Made Of?

Gelatin comes primarily from dead cows and pigs who have endured the awful psychological and physical suffering that is inherent in the slaughter process.

What Part of the Animal Is Gelatin From?

Gelatin is all the body parts of dead animals that the meat industry cannot sell as meat products. Bones, muscles tissues, ligaments, skin, and feet are all commonly used.

What Is Gelatin Used For?

Gelatin is hidden away in a multitude of products like candy, cake, and cosmetics, that effectively hide the horrific suffering of the ingredients within. It’s upsetting to think about the excitement children feel when eating their favorite candy, in contrast to the suffering that animals endured to make it. If children—or most adults—saw where the gelatin in their candy came from, they would almost certainly be traumatized. Rather than hiding the truth from kids, and ourselves, we could choose compassion, and opt for one of the many delicious vegan candies out there.

What Foods Are Made of Gelatin?

Gelatin can be found in many candies, cakes, jello, ice cream, yogurt, and marshmallows, as well as cosmetics, vitamin pills, and even photographic film.

It is easy to miss, so check these kinds of products before buying them to make sure you are not unwittingly contributing to animal suffering.

Why Is Gelatin Bad?

Gelatin is bad because unnecessarily killing animals who do not want to die is bad. It is part of a system of great cruelty and suffering. It is easier to avoid meat because it is so obviously a piece of a dead animal but gelatin is so often hidden from view, packaged away in products that are designed to bring joy to people.

Luckily, there are vegan versions of all those products so we can make choices that don’t contribute to the suffering of billions of sentient, intelligent animals every year. We can still enjoy the same products, without the ethical price tag.

What Is Vegan Gelatin Made Of?

There is an amazing natural ingredient called agar, which is derived from red seaweed. It does exactly the same thing as gelatin and does not involve killing any sentient beings.

The reason food manufacturers use animal gelatin is that there is an abundance of it coming from slaughterhouses. If we all stopped supporting the industry of farming and slaughtering animals, there would be no gelatin available, so food and cosmetic manufacturers would need to look elsewhere. Luckily, we already have a vegan version! And we can choose products made with it.


Gelatin is a horrible by-product of the horrific industry of farming and slaughtering animals and if more people knew the origin of the gelatin in their candy, cakes, and cosmetics, they would think very differently about their product choices. We already have high-quality plant-based ingredients that do exactly the same thing so there is no need to farm and slaughter animals for our food.

It’s time for change and luckily for us, it’s never been easier to buy vegan versions of all our favorite products.

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