Are marshmallows vegetarian?
A common question that vegetarians and vegans have is whether or not marshmallows are vegetarian. Well, that all depends on the marshmallows you are purchasing. Traditionally, no marshmallows were vegetarian. However, in recent years there are now several companies make vegetarian ones. You just have to know where to find the vegetarian ones. And they are most likely not found at your local grocery store. Most marshmallows you find in the grocery store are not vegetarian. Most marshmallows that are used in candies, cakes, and other types of pre-made snacks and desserts are not vegetarian.
What is it that makes most marshmallows non-vegetarian? Gelatin!
Gelatin, according to the dictionary, is glutinous material obtained from animal tissues by boiling. According to the National Institutes of Health, gelatin is a protein made from animal products. Scientific America explains that gelatin is made from boiling collagen, which comes from hides and connective tissues of animals. There are some marshmallows that state on the label that they contain gelatin, and some that state they contain fish. Neither of them are vegetarian.
There are vegetarian marshmallows available, and they taste great! Dandie's are awesome vegetarian / vegan marshmallows that you can eat by themselves and use for roasting and making desserts. Sweet & Sara also makes some great vegetarian/vegan marshmallows. You can typically get vegetarian/vegan marshmallows online, in health food store, and in places like Whole Foods Market, and Lucky's Market. These vegetarian marshmallows are great for eating by themselves, roasting, making s'mores, and more.
Gelatin is not only found in most marshmallows, but it's also found in many candies, fruit snacks, gummy snacks, medications, etc. It's wise to always look at the ingredients list to see if it contains gelatin. You will be surprised to see the vast amount of products that contain gelatin, ranging from jars of peanuts to frozen cakes to treats, and so much more. Gelatin is often in the coating of medications that come in a capsule or gel type pill. You can typically find these products without gelatin if you look around.
You can find a vegetarian/vegan gelatin alternative if you want to serve up a snack like jello to your children or use it for a recipe. They can be found at health food stores, Whole Foods Market, and online. My kids love the vegetarian gelatin alternative. I've made it for them, put fruit in it, and they gobble it up. You can also buy some that come in pre-made cups at the health food stores. To read a review on one of them I made, click here.