After extensively looking for alternatives to gelatin (which is definitely not vegan), I stumbled into something called guar gum. Since this ingredient is used as a gelatin substitute I immediately wondered: Is guar gum vegan? There are so many ingredients out there we know nothing about and, without research, you can find yourself eating something that is not in accordance to your diet or values.
So What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum, sometimes referred to as gellan gum, is a food additive with natural thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying properties. It falls in a category of thickening agents along with agar agar, xanthan gum and gelatin.
Guar gum comes in the form of a powder. It is extracted from the endosperm of the legume plants, which grow in the area of India and Pakistan. This key ingredient is processed into the powder sold in stores. This video explains the process of extraction and basic information about guar gum and other natural gums:
Is Guar Gum Vegan?
I will answer this question simply. Yes, guar gum is vegan. Here is the brand of guar gum I recommend. As mentioned above, the powder is derived from a plant seed, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike. There are other alternatives to gelatin that may seem suspicious, so I advise you to do your research about any ingredient that you know nothing about. Be sure to also check any additional processing ingredients as they can be non-vegan or even toxic.
Is Guar Gum Healthy?
With the growing vegetarian and vegan movements, guar gum has expanded its popularity, and many people are wondering whether or not this ingredient is good for you.
There has been extensive research done on the matter. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, both negative and positive effects have been observed through the intake of guar gum. Guar gum has shown a negative effect when the intake was above 10% concentration. The high viscosity of the guar gum present in the intestines reduces digestion and slows growth.
In order to feel the positive effects of guar gum, you must limit your intake to a concentration of up to one percent. More than one percent leads to a disturbed nutritional intake. Lower quantities of guar gum have many great health benefits.
Make sure to drink plenty of water when supplementing with guar gum. If you have liver and serious digestion issues, I would not take guar without consulting a specialist first.
When partially hydrated, guar gum has been proven to sooth irritated bowel behavior. It must be taken in the right amount as a dietary fiber. In other words, if you suffer from constipation or diarrhea, guar gum can help ease the unpleasant symptoms of both.
Due to its gel forming properties, guar gum can lower glucose and cholesterol levels. There have also been cases of weight loss through intake of guar gum. Because this supplement slows the gastric emptying time, appetite decreases with smaller portions of food.
The Many Uses Of Guar Gum
There are many uses for guar gum, often acting as the “gluten” in gluten-free pastries. Guar gum is also used as a thickener for sauces and dressings. Its properties make it a great gelatin substitute in pudding and jellies. Last but not least, guar gum has water binding properties, which make it perfect for restricting the formation of water crystals during the freeze thaw cycle.
Because of its low calorie count, this gum can substitute traditional sugars, syrups and starches. Its taste and smell are neutral and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. The color of guar is a suble yellowish shade and does not interfere with the aesthetics of your recipes. Another notable quality to keep in mind when using guar in your cooking is that it is insoluble in oils.
There are many recipes online as Guar gum is becoming increasingly popular. Yummly has a few of the most beloved recipes here.
Other uses of guar gum are in pharmaceuticals, paper, textile, cosmetics and explosives. Industrial application is also common because of its water binding properties.
For environmentally conscious people (like me), you’ll be happy to know that the cultivation of guar replenishes Nitrogen into the soil and has the ability to grow in drought conditions.
How To Use Guar Gum
When making the switch from gelatin to guar gum, make sure you keep in mind that they do differ in properties, and the two substances must cannot be treated the same. Here are some tips to making the transition from gelatin to guar gum:
• Prepare for cooking by separating your dry and wet ingredient.
• Calculate your guar gum amount by taking one-sixth of the amount of gelatin in the original recipe.
• Sift the guar powder through a strainer or sifter. Guar gum can form clumps like flour. To avoid this keep it away from humidity at all times.
• Pour your guar content into the dry ingredients bowl and mix well.
• Slowly add the liquid ingredients, mixing the whole time.
• Finish off your recipe as described.
Where to find guar gum
I recommend buying guar gum in a powder form to use it in your favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes. There are many brands out there, so make sure to purchase a reputable brand. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Guar gum powder. Take a look at brands that support sustainability and animal rights in their production.
The Final Verdict
Guar gum is a great alternative to gelatin. With that being said, it’s time to start looking into what you eat and the ingredients that go into your food. Gelatin is not vegan, but guar gum is. Not only is it vegan but also proves beneficial for many health concerns such as obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and irregular bowel movements. Just make sure not to over consume as the effect can be negative.
Please leave me any comments and questions you may have about guar gum – I would love to hear your experience and concerns about guar gum and the way you use it!
Remember when using guar gum:
• Drink plenty of water.
• Do not take more than one percent concentration.
• Replace gelatin with 1/6th of guar gum powder.
• Buy from reliable companies like Bob’s Red Mill guar gum.