The Real Reason Vegans Can't Eat Jell-O

Jell-O is one of the most versatile desserts out there, coming in an infinite number of flavors like strawberry and grape. Have you ever wondered why this dessert can take any form, or why it wiggles when you touch it? It's all thanks to its main component: gelatin. Gelatin is derived from collagen, a protein that provides flexibility for connective tissues that allows them to stay intact rather than break when stretched (via How Stuff Works). In its natural form, collagen isn't water-soluble, so manufacturers have to combine it with acids, boil it, and then cool it down to achieve a water-soluble derivative. Besides Jell-O, gelatin is found in an array of products including chewing gum, gummy bears, and marshmallows.

Gelatin is an animal-derived product often made of cow or pig bones, skin, and connective tissues. For this reason, Jell-O is not a vegan-friendly dessert.

There are vegan Jell-O options

While Jell-O in its original form uses components derived from animals, there are vegan-friendly options. Gelatin can be substituted by several plant-based alternatives like agar or carrageenan which come from red algae, per New Idea Food. You can get the powdered product to make your own vegan Jell-O or you can buy ready-to-enjoy options like Bakol Jel Dessert and Simply Delish Jel Dessert which come in several natural flavors and colors.

Jell-O is also a staple at many parties in the form of shots, which are made of Jell-O combined with liquors such as vodka. For vegans who couldn't enjoy Jell-O shots before, Jel Shot Co. came up with a solution. The brand offers pre-made vegan Jell-O shots in six flavors that don't need to be refrigerated, making it easier to enjoy while avoiding the hassle of making the shots yourself!