Skip to content

Is Shellac Vegan? Learn More Here! 

Can vegetarians eat shellac?

While shellac has no animal components, it’s not suitable for vegans. The reason is that it’s made with the secretion of Kerria lacca, an insect that lives in South East Asia.

A layer of shellac contains chemicals that are toxic to some animals. So if you’re vegetarian, you should be careful not to eat shellac products.

Actual shellac is only found in a few products used for vegan foods. It is essential to understand that shellac is an animal-derived product. So it should not be used by vegans or people who have ethical issues with consuming animal products.

If you want to know more about shellac and find other alternatives, keep reading below!

What Is Shellac?

Shellac is a natural resin secreted by insects biting down on the wood. This type of resin hardens into a durable substance like lacquer.

They live in trees, where they build nests from leaves and twigs.

Shellac is a resin secreted by an insect as it builds its protective shell. It is processed and sold as dry flakes. 

It has been used as a coating agent in wood and metal products, as a dye fixative, and as a food glaze.

Lac bug larvae feed on sap and excrete a sticky substance called polish product shellac which hardens. It’s used in food and household products.

Shellac is a good sugar alternative in vegan recipes. After all, it’s made from lac resin extracted from the lac bug’s intestines!

Main Uses of Shellac

It is easy to see why shellac is a popular ingredient in many products. It is a valuable ingredient that smooths the finished products.

Shellac is used in many applications, including:

  • Used in food and other products as a glaze, coating, and preservative.
  • Dental sealants, fillings, crowns, veneers, and coatings.
  • They are used in jewellery making and art.
  • They are used to add shine to nails and hair.
  • Production of certain medicines.
  • Production of certain pesticides.
  • Use in the production of cloth, where it serves as the glue.
  • To be used as a protective coating on wood, shellac is also used in paints, varnishes, and lacquers. 

What are food products that contain shellac?

There are no specific recommendations about how much shellac to put in a product. The amount should be low enough to preserve the product but not too low to harm people who eat them. 

Many foods contain shellac. Suppose you are on a vegan diet and want to avoid consuming insect-based products such as shellac. Make sure you check the ingredients of the food you buy.

Food products that contain shellac include:

  • Confectionery
  • Chewing gum
  • Candy
  • Cereals
  • Fruit juices
  • Dairy products
  • Baked goods
  • Canned fruits
  • Jams
  • Sauces
  • Pickles
  • Mayonnaise
  • Processed cheese

How do I know whether my food is coated with shellac?

Some manufacturers use shellac in their products because it makes them look shinier. But it can cause problems if you are using your food as a source of nutrition.

Many foods containing shellac have a long shelf life and high heat tolerance. Baked beans are often packed in packages with shellac. It means that the bean will keep well longer than it would without any coating.

But, this means that the bean may last much longer. They don’t benefit your health when taken every day. 

Find out if Twinkies are vegan or not!

Shellac in Nail Polish: What You Need to Know

The FDA recommends against using nail products containing more than 0.5% shellac as it contains chemicals that can poison your skin.

The most common ingredient in nail polish is formaldehyde. Formaldehydes are known carcinogens and mutagens.

They affect DNA by breaking its chemical bonds and damaging it. It causes cancer cells to grow faster and become resistant to conventional therapies.

The FDA also warns that nail polish can peel off, break, or crack under constant pressure.

Find out whether Gardetto’s are vegan or non-vegan!

Vegan Alternatives to Shellac

If you are concerned about the use of shellac, you are trying to find out whether you can consume it yourself. Then consider some alternative options.

For instance, you might try the following:

1. Use a natural finishing agent such as sesame oil, or coconut oil. They provide the same benefits as shellac, but they aren’t made from insects.

These oils are great for giving your food an appeal and making them taste better.

2. You can substitute natural waxes and oils for shellac in food. But, they won’t give your food the same shine you get from shellac.

3. Use a traditional binder, wheat flour, almond meal, or gluten-free flour mix. It gives your food a firmer structure and helps prevent it from cracking.

4. Instead of adding salt, you could sprinkle a small amount of smoked sea salt (such as Maldon Salt). It adds depth to the flavour of your food without being bitter.

5. Use non-animal derived fats such as coconut oil, palm oil, avocado acid, and olive oil. These oils add fantastic flavour and texture to your food.

5. Instead of using shellac, you can use soy sauce or tamari.

Final Words

I hope you found this article valuable and helpful. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to comment on this article if you have any questions.

Mike Halladay

Mike Halladay

Hey! Mike Here! I love all things vegan. I am a Dad of 2 youngs boys and a food lover and amateur Chef. I transitioned to being a Vegan 9 years and it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. My health and lifestyle improved beyond belief! This is why I started to spread the word!

1 thought on “Is Shellac Vegan? Learn More Here! ”

  1. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the article. I’m a novice woodworker, and am trying to find vegan finishing products.

    I do have a correction though. You wrote “1. Use a natural finishing agent such as beeswax, sesame oil, or coconut oil. They provide the same benefits as shellac, but they aren’t made from insects.” Well, beeswax is not vegan since it too is an animal product.

    Again, thanks for the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *