I’ll never forget the day I first learned the truth about gelatin. I was 16, and was in a café with a new friend when I offered him one of the marshmallows destined to be stirred into the hot chocolate I was about to drink.
He shook his head no, then explained, “I’m a vegetarian.”
I thought I was a vegetarian too, so I was pretty shocked to find out that my consumption of marshmallows and other candies indicated either an innocent ignorance (not anymore!) or a profound inconsistency that I was going to have to address, as I was soon to find out that gelatin(e) is derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin, bones, and connective tissues.
From the website of Gelatin Manufacturers of America:
“Gelatin is… obtained from partial hydrolysis of collagen derived from natural sources such as skin, connective tissue, and bones of animals. The raw materials used in the production of gelatin… include cattle bone, cattle hides and fresh, frozen pigskins.”
On a commercial scale, gelatin is made from by-products of the meat and leather industry. Contrary to popular belief, horns and hooves are not commonly used. Worldwide production amounts to 250,000 tons per year.