The uninitiated may quite reasonably expect that most confectionery would be suitable for vegetarians. After all, you don’t usually find a rasher of bacon in your jelly babies or eat fruit gums cooked in lard. The truth is, however, that many sweets contain the sort of animal products that would make a vegetarian tape their mouth shut.
That is why Marks & Spencer has launched a new confectionery range specifically aimed at sweet-toothed vegetarians. In 2011, the high street giant launched a variety of their popular Percy Pig jelly sweets containing pea protein rather than pig-derived gelatin, and now the range is being expanded to include Super Sours, Fruit Gums, Fruit Pastilles and vegetarian-friendly Colin the Caterpillar products.
Is There the Demand? | Apparently yes, as many chewy sweets, such as jelly babies and wine gums, get their jaw-exercising qualities from animal-derived gelatin — not a good thing for those committed to keeping meat products off the menu.
In fact, there are many foodstuffs on the market that may not be quite as veggie-friendly as they might first appear. Did you know, for example, that a simple serving of traditional pesto could be enough to send a committed non-meat-eater off to the bathroom because of its animal-based rennet content, or that even a pint of Guinness or glass of wine could contain fish scales? Some yoghurts contain gelatine, and orange and red sweets might well get their glow from E120. It’s otherwise known as cochineal, carminic acid or carmine but is basically the result of crushing beetle shells.