There’s always space for jello, right? This fun ingredient and snack is like nothing else with its wobbly, jelly texture and range of different flavors.
Yes, jello is loved by many but, is it suitable for vegans? If you’re a vegan who has a hankering for some jello, you may want to find another snack to enjoy.
Why? Because the main ingredient of jello is gelatin, and there is no room for this in any vegan diet.
That’s right, gelatin is not vegan-friendly. Therefore, neither is jello. We’re sorry for this news.
Without gelatin, jello just wouldn’t have that iconic “jelly-ness.” That’s no surprise as gelatin is essentially collagen.
In other words, it is the connective tissue found in animals and what some people use to inject into their lips to plump them up.
Let’s find out more about jello below.
What is Jello?
Jello is primarily made up of gelatin. Gelatin itself is made from animal collagen, which is a protein that forms the connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, bone, and skin. Yummy!
In most cases, the hides and bones of animals, such as pigs and cows, are boiled down, dried, and then treated with a base or strong acid.
The final remains are then filtered until collagen is extracted.
Once the collagen is present, it is then dried and ground into a powder before being sifted into gelatin.
You can purchase jello in its powdered form to use in homemade dishes.
You can also buy it in its pre-made dessert form, which is typically sold in small servings sizes.
When making homemade jello, you simply dissolve the powder mix in some boiling water. By heating the powder, the bonds that keep the collagen together are broken.
As the mixture cools, the collagen reforms into a semisolid state. Inside, water molecules are trapped, and the result is that wobbly, jiggly jello so many of us love.
Gelatin may be the primary ingredient that gives jello its distinctive wobbly texture, but packaged jello usually contains other ingredients including flavoring agents, colorings, and sweeteners.
Artificial flavors are commonly used in jello. These tend to be a combination of chemicals that imitate natural flavors.
In many brands, lots of chemicals are added until the correct flavor profile has been found.
The sweeteners typically used in jello are aspartame. These artificial additives are calorie free and act like sugar.
Food colorings used in jello are either artificial or completely natural. Many products today are made with natural colorings, due to consumer demand. Examples include carrot juice and beet.
That being said, a great deal of jellos are still being made with artificial food dyes.
Strawberry jell-o, for instance, is made with sugar, adipic acid, gelatin, disodium phosphate, artificial flavors, sodium citrate, red dye, and fumaric acid.
Sugar-free Black Cherry jello-o, on the other hand, contains the same ingredients but uses aspartame as a substitute for sugar.
There are vast numbers of jello manufacturers in the world offering thousands of jello products.
The best way to know what ingredients are in your jello is to read the ingredients on its packaging.
Is Jello Vegetarian?
Since jello is made from gelatin (animal skin and bones), it is neither vegetarian nor vegan-friendly.
Nonetheless, there are vegetarian jello desserts on the market that are made from plant-based gums and seaweeds, such as carrageenan and agar.
It is also possible to make your own vegetarian jello at home with plant-based gelling agents.
You may, like many, think that the name jello is the umbrella term for all chilled gelatin desserts.
However, it is simply the brand name of one particular company.
Around the world, what we know as “jello” is referred to as “jelly.” Jell-o, as in the brand, is certainly not vegan, but there are brands that produce vegan jellies.
Some vegan brands are:
- Simply Delish Natural Strawberry Jel Dessert – contains no dairy, salt, fat, sugar, or GMO and is available with orange, peach, raspberry, and strawberry flavors
- Zellee Organic Fruit Jel – available in pear, grape, blueberry, orange, strawberry, and peach flavors
- Bakol Vegan Jel Dessert – all natural ingredients and available in six flavors
Although the brand jello is not vegan, there are numerous types of jellies on the market that are vegan-friendly.
Always check the ingredients beforehand, though, to ensure your jello meets your dietary requirements.