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?"


7 Answers 7


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.

  • 4
    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
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 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
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 15:45
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    @ESultanik That sounds even worse, since you're torturing the poor thing!
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 8:38

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.


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.

  • 5
    You forgot the Level 5 vegans. They don't eat anything that casts a shadow.
    – hobodave
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 16:35
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    Whereas I dine exclusively on Carnivores. I like to live high on the food chain. Commented Sep 21, 2010 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. Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 3:14
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    'Vegetarianism' is a well-defined, but widely abused term. Commented Dec 1, 2010 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
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:14

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.


This is a big NO. Gelatin is purely a non-vegetarian substance that is usually obtained from pigs and cattle.

Though this might be harsh to hear, the process of making gelatin begins by boiling collagen-containing animal body parts like connective tissues, ligaments, bones etc. There are various gelatin processing plants that are located near slaughterhouses where the animals are killed for their bones and skin. A big reason to go Vegetarian.

If you are a vegetarian and looking for a substitute for Gelatin, you can consider using the product known as “agar agar”. Though this is marketed as gelatin at times, it is purely vegan.


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

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