I understand that vegetarians are against meat, and gelatin is derived from meat and bones. So the obvious answer is "no."

But I'm not entirely sure. What constitutes an ingredient as "vegetarian" or "vegan?"


Without further qualification, if someone refers to themselves as vegetarian (in America), the general assumption is that they are lacto-ovo vegetarian. That means they don't eat animal products that require killing the animal, but eggs and dairy are fine. Gelatin comes from a dead animal (unless they start harvesting it with arthroscopic probes :), so it is not a vegetarian ingredient. There are many other hydrocolloids, such as agar, that can be used to produce similar textures if needed.

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    One could theoretically harvest limbs from a regenerative species (e.g., salamanders) and use them to create gelatin from collagen without permanently physically harming the source animal ;-) – ESultanik Jul 1 '11 at 16:59
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    Not all dairy is vegetarian, eg cheese that uses rennet in production. Unless you are a pescetarian even some kinds of wine or beer, which are cleared with isinglass, are taboo. Depending on how serious you take your vegetarism, of course. – Baarn Sep 3 '13 at 15:45

Vegetarianism is not clearly defined, but a catch-all for various dietary choices.

Some vegetarians, will just simply not eat red meat, but would eat fish and poultry. Gelatin and Rennet (found in cheese) may or may not be included. I have friends who don't eat mammals, and others who won't eat anything warm-blooded.

Lacto-Ovo vegetarians will eat eggs and dairy, but not any muscular tissue. Again, Rennet and Gelatin are options they may or may not include.

Vegans, in the strictest sense, will not eat any animal flesh, nor will they eat animal derived products. In the purest sense, a vegan will exclude dairy and honey, but many vegans will include honey, and some will include dairy.

Those that choose vegetarianism for health reasons may break their diet occasionally for special occasions, such as a Thanksgiving turkey. Ethical (Animal Rights) Vegans, generally will not, and will question every ingredient.

Again, there are even ethical (environmental) vegetarians, who may be week-day vegans, and weekend Carnivores, finding that discipline easier to follow than simply reducing meat portion sizes. My boss, for example, is a Daytime Vegan, but once the sun goes down, he'll fire up the grill.

A good test for vegetarianism is to check the products for a KOSHER - Dairy symbol. If it can be served with dairy according to Kosher Rules, then it should be meat free.

EDIT: Other answer states the Kosher products may contain fish, so Kosher-Dairy only guarantees free from meat/poultry.

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    You forgot the Level 5 vegans. They don't eat anything that casts a shadow. – hobodave Sep 21 '10 at 16:35
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    Whereas I dine exclusively on Carnivores. I like to live high on the food chain. – Chris Cudmore Sep 21 '10 at 17:40
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    The dairy/no dairy thing is one of the main distinctions between vegetarians and vegans, so I don't think the statement "some [vegans] will include dairy" is correct. – Brendan Long Sep 22 '10 at 3:14
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    'Vegetarianism' is a well-defined, but widely abused term. – pfctdayelise Dec 1 '10 at 4:06
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    -1 for suggesting that some vegetarians eat non-red meat. Someone who eats meat is by definition not a vegetarian. – Richard May 11 '17 at 14:14

Gelatin is not vegetarian as it is made from dead animals... any vegetarian, from ovo-lacto in the liberal end to the fruitarian on the extreme end should have an aversion. A person who eats fish and/or poultry is by no means a vegetarian, just a selective omnivore.

If you need a similar product fruit pectin is a good alternative.


A product labeled kosher dairy will not automatically be okay for vegetarians. Kosher gelatin simply has been processed enough that the source is no longer identifiable -- it doesn't mean that it's not from a meat source to start with. Be careful to find out the rules for the particular kosher certification agency before relying on that.

Incidentally, unless the kosher certification specifically says that it's meat or dairy, the product is most likely pareve (the other category -- contains neither meat nor dairy, so can be eaten with either).

In addition, according to Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) tradition, fish is not considered to be meat, but pareve. So if you avoid meat, kosher gelatin may still contain fish.

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    "Actually, that's not true" This is not a forum in the "threaded conversations" sense. The sort order of posts varies, and the whole mechanism is ill suited to trying to hold a conversation. You need to specify what is not true. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 21 '10 at 17:01
  • Thanks, dmckee. I think I need more coffee. It's fixed now. – Martha F. Sep 21 '10 at 17:06
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    Yes, in fact Kosher gelatin almost always includes fish and is therefore not vegetarian. – Michael Natkin Sep 21 '10 at 17:48
  • Edited reply to indicate this fact. – Chris Cudmore Sep 21 '10 at 18:30

Some confusion may have arisen from the misuse of the term gelatin ie gums jelly = gelatin. Some recipes actually call for 'vegetarian gelatin' which I reckon must be agar...


I agree Gelatin is defiantly not vegan because vegan is not wearing or eating anything that is an animal product.

  • Hello. Welcome to SA. Please answer in a factual way, with references, perhaps. We want you to enjoy, and good answers with references and factual backing get upvotes. Upvotes make posters smile. SMiles are good. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Apr 28 '18 at 14:54
  • Please see our help center, especially How to Answer: If you agree with an existing answer, simply upvote it. All new answers should ideally contribute a new aspect. And you need to read the question carefully: the main question is about gelatin being vegetarian, not vegan. – Stephie Apr 29 '18 at 5:38

I don't think gelatin is vegetarian unless specified. Gelatin is made from animal bones.


Gelatin is definitely not vegan. It is derived from collagen, a protein that connects bones, muscles & tendons. People often confuse it with Pectin. And it is also a common query that if pectin is vegan or not? This doubt arises because both are used for similar purpose.

Although for all those consuming vegan substances strictly, can opt for gelatin.

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    Now what? First you say gelatin is not vegan, then in the last sentence you say vegans can opt for gelatin? – Robert May 11 '17 at 14:26
  • And vegan isn't the same as vegetarian. – Stephie May 11 '17 at 14:41

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