When I was little my parents used to take us to a Chinese buffet restaurant a couple of times a year. The food was great but our favourite part was dessert where they had little bowls of Jell-O that were cut up into cubes. Oh how fun it was to watch those little squares jiggle and roll off the spoon. Jell-O was such a fun food but as a child I had no idea what it was made from and why would I? Unfortunately, now that I do know, it is on my list of foods I do not eat.
Gelatin comes from collagen which is derived from the tendons, ligaments, bones, skin and connective tissues of animals, most often cows and pigs. These body parts are loaded into chopping machines and cut up into small pieces. They are washed, cleaned and then roasted for about half an hour. After this, they are soaked in vats of acid or alkali for five days before being boiled to extract the gelatinous liquid. Depending on the use of the gelatin, there are food colourings, sweeteners or flavourings added after this process.
As someone who chooses not to consume animals, it is sometimes difficult to determine what foods and products contain animal by-products. Gelatin is used in many foods and products, not just Jell-O. It can be found in marshmallows, yogurt, gummy candy, jelly beans, jam, cereal, pop-tarts, vitamins, make-up and nail polish remover, as well as hundreds of other products.
If you would like to eliminate gelatin from your diet, look for products that contain the ingredients carrageenan, agar-agar, arrowroot, guar gum or xanthan gum, as these are used as thickening agents instead of gelatin.
My personal favourite yogurt comes from Olympic - all of their products are delicious and they are easily found in most grocery stores. They can be a little bit more expensive than other yogurts, but the taste is far superior and the fact that you aren't eating animal skin makes it worth the extra few cents. A recent new discovery is Presidents Choice Greek Yogurt with Honey - it is lower in sugar, has no fat and is very high in protein. Unfortunately it is so good that I could eat the entire container in one sitting! And for those with kids that can't go camping without having S'mores, you can find gelatin free marshmallows at Dandies Air-Puffed Vegan Marshmallows, Original Vanilla, 10 oz. Bag
I don't think any of us would choose to eat tendons and ligaments from an animal so why is it any different because it has been boiled down to form gelatin? A little research on the internet and reading of labels at the grocery store will help you be more aware of what you are eating and feeding your family.