Vegetarians Upset Over Gelatin in Ice Cream
Maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet requires a certain level of vigilance. You might have to scan ingredient labels, poke around in a sandwich or query waiters to determine if there might be a meat derivative or other unwelcome animal product lurking in your food. And one stealth ingredient seems to be tripping up vegetarians: gelatin, which is made from collagen that comes from the bones and hides of cows and pigs.
Ice Cream Controversy
A Hindu cleric this week sought an apology from ice cream maker Baskin-Robbins, saying that the company did not make clear that the ingredient used in the marshmallow component of its Rocky Road flavor could be derived from beef. “It was shocking for Hindus to learn that popular ‘Rocky Road,’ which they had been eating for years, contained beef; while beef was not explicitly mentioned under the ingredients listed on the packages/boxes,” said Raman Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, in a news release.
- Baskin-Robbins lists gelatin as an ingredient in its Rocky Road ice cream
- Many vegetarians and vegans are unaware of the animal origins of gelatin
- Gelatin is commonly found in foods like marshmallows and cheesecakes
Response from Baskin-Robbins
A Baskin-Robbins spokesperson shared a statement responding to Zed’s complaint, noting that it isn’t trying to hide the inclusion of gelatin from customers. “Baskin-Robbins is compliant with all regulatory standards and strives to provide clear, simple nutrition and ingredient information on menus and labels,” the statement reads. “Our website and app provide links to ingredient information, nutritional breakdowns, lists of major allergens, and information on allergen cross-contact with other menu items at our shops.”
Other Companies Targeted
Marshmallows aren’t the only food to throw vegetarians for a curve of late. Videos posted on TikTok and posts on Twitter this year kicked off waves of people surprised to learn that parmesan cheese is usually not vegetarian — because it is made using calf rennet, an enzyme derived from the stomach lining of animals. While some cheesemakers have developed non-animal alternatives, the traditional cow-based product is used in classic Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as a host of other cheeses.
The controversy surrounding gelatin in ice cream highlights the challenges faced by vegetarians and vegans in maintaining their dietary choices. As more people become aware of hidden animal ingredients in their food, companies may need to provide clearer labeling and alternative options to cater to this growing market.