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What is gelatin made of?

Gelatin and the vegan alternative

Ever wonder what gelatin is made of? Or where gelatin is used? Learn everything you need to know about gelatin.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
What is gelatin made of?
Last updated on August 10, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on October 13, 2020.
In this article

What is gelatin made of?

Typical gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, or bones with water. Most of the used materials are obtained from cows and pigs. Therefore, gelatin is not vegan.

What is gelatin made of?

Where is gelatin used?

Gelatin is still widely used by the food and cosmetics industry. Typical use cases are:

Gelatin use in cosmetics

Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics.

Gelatin use in food

Used as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings, candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts.

Gelatin use in the pharmaceutical industry

Used as a coating and as capsules.

Gelatin use in photography

It was used in analog photography for the gelatin process — a photographic technique in which gelatin is used as the dispersing vehicle for the light-sensitive silver salts.

Gelatin use in beverages

Sometimes gelatin is also used to assist in clearing wine and beer.

Agar-agar, the vegan gelatin alternative

Agar-agar is a plant-based gelatin derived from seaweed. It’s widely sold in flake, powder, bar, and strand form. It’s often used in dairy-free and vegan recipes as a stabilizing and thickener. It also is used in gluten-free recipes as a thickener and is very nutritious.

What is agar-agar?

Agar-agar is a jellylike substance made out of red algae, a type of seaweed.

Difference between agar-agar and gelatin

The main difference between agar-agar and gelatin is from where they are derived. Whereas animal-based gelatins are made from animals, agar-agar is vegan, coming from the red algae plant. Also, when cooking with agar-agar, it needs different preparation. For example, agar-agar needs to boil to set, while gelatin can simply dissolve in warm water.

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