Are marshmallows vegetarian?
No, mainstream marshmallows are not vegetarian or vegan. This is because they typically contain gelatin, which is not a vegetarian ingredient.
Gelatin is a essentially a slaughterhouse leftover by-product of hooves, horns, tendons, etc. These parts are then boiled down and turned into a powder that becomes gelatinous once liquid is added to it, which is what gelatin is. Gelatin is not vegetarian, and traditional marshmallows tend to always contain gelatin. There are also some marshmallows that have their gelatin being made from fish byproduct, because some people feel more comfortable with that option. Even so, that is still not vegetarian. Some gelatin is labeled on the package as being "kosher," but that does not mean it is vegetarian. Gelatin is not vegetarian, whether it is considered kosher, or regardless of the type of animal it is made from.
About a decade or so ago, there were vegetarian and vegan marshmallows that did hit the market. They are available today both in person at some stores and for purchasing online. And they taste great! In fact, there is a good chance that people won't be able to even tell the difference between something like a Dandie's marshmallow and one of the traditional ones that contains gelatin. They can be used the same in recipes, for roasting on an open fire, etc.
Here is a list of some vegetarian and vegan marshmallows on the market:
- Dandie's - They offer regular size vegetarian / vegan marshmallows, as well as miniature size. They are also working on a marshmallow fluff product. If you find them in a store, such as a health food store, they are around $5-6 per package if not on sale. They taste great, are versatile in use, and the kids love them.
- Sweet & Sara - This company was making vegetarian marshmallows long before Dandie's, and they taste great. The company also offers vegetarian cereal marshmallows. They are a bit fancier and often times already in a fancy shape. These are hard to find in person, so you will need to order online.
- Smucker's Marshmallow Topping - This product likely wasn't designed to be vegan, but just so happens to be. If you are looking for a vegetarian / vegan marshmallow fluff type of product check this one out.
- Suzanne's Specialties, Ricemellow Cream - You will likely need to order this vegan cream online.
- Mallows - They make a line of vegetarian / vegan marshmallows, as well as treats made from their marshmallows.
- Trader Joe's Marshmallows - If you live by a Trader Joe's you can pop in and buy these vegetarian / vegan marshmallows in person. If not, you can order them online.
- Marshmallow Fluff - This one is available at most mainstream grocery stores. It is vegetarian, but it is not vegan, since it contains eggs.
These marshmallow products are vegetarian and/or vegan, but that doesn't mean they are healthy. Please note that they may still have unhealthy ingredients in them. Just being vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean they don't have ingredients that you should exercise caution over, such as carrageenan. Be sure to check the labels to ensure that the product doesn't contain ingredients that you are trying to avoid. In addition to the above products you can also make your own marshmallows. There are many recipes online for making your own vegetarian / vegan marshmallows.