Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vegetarian gelatin alternatives

In my last post I talked a bit about gelatin and how a lot of products aren't vegetarian because they contain it as a thickener. But I really like gelatin! Vegetarian gelatin alternative, that is!

One of my favorites is actually a pre-packaged product. Dole Fruit Gels are made with carrageenan. These awesome gel cups are vegan except for the black cherry variety, which is colored with cochineal. My favorite is the lime with pineapple, yum!
For do-it-yourself gel, I like KoJel. It is a Kosher jel dessert made with carrageenan and can be found in the Kosher section of your supermarket. It comes in flavors very similar to Jell-o and is nice and clear. (unlike some agar agar-based gels) As I said before, you cannot assume that Kosher gelatin is vegan unless it specifically states in the ingredients that it uses a non-animal agent. In the very confusing Kosher rules, beef or fish gelatin can be consider meatless if it has been processed in such a way that the meat ingredients make up 1/60th or less of the final product. Therefore, because it is considered pareve (neither meat nor milk), the label or common sense may lead you to believe it is vegetarian. But it's not. It's considered meatless, for those keeping Kosher, but to those who value vegetarianism, it's not. Moral of the story-read your labels and if a food lists Kosher gelatin, it's probably NOT vegetarian unless it says it's from a non-animal source.

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