Shellac is also used as a pharmaceutical glaze, and serves as a coating material for tablets and capsules, particularly in time-released or delayed-action pills, since it stops the pill from breaking down in the stomach.
Also known as ‘gum lac’, shellac also finds its way into household products such as sealing wax, adhesives, polish and varnish; in cosmetics such as hairsprays, mascara, nail polish, perfume and lipstick (and yes, there are vegan alternatives for all of these); as a binding agent in printing inks and paints; and in agriculture – coating urea to produce a slow releasing fertilizer.
Is there a vegan alternative to shellac? Of course! Zein, a corn protein, is a competitive non-animal-based product. Pure zein is clear, odorless, tasteless, hard, water-insoluble, and edible. It is already used as a coating for candy, nuts, fruit, pills, and other encapsulated foods and drugs. In the United States, it may also be labeled as ‘confectioner’s glaze’. NOTE: As well as sometimes being made from shellac, confectioner’s glaze can also contain beeswax.
So, what do you do if you want to know whether that shine on your candy comes from an animal or a plant? Call the company, of course! Not only does making that call give you a definitive answer as to the origin of the ingredient, but it also lets the company know that there is an increasing demand for vegan alternatives to shellac and other animal-based ingredients that are, frankly, archaic.…
Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.