Religious Dietary Requirements: Is Collagen Kosher & Halal?
February 05, 2021
At Absolute Collagen, we’re proud to have customers from all over the world - countries with different cultures, customs, and religions.
And even here in the UK, we have such a wonderful diversity of culture and identity. This includes dietary practices and restrictions which influence a person’s everyday life, so with this in mind, we’ve put together this handy blog post to explain whether or not collagen supplements are suitable for specific cultural and religious dietary requirements, specifically, halal, kosher, and vegetarian.
Judaism: Is Collagen Kosher?
Kosher is associated with the religion of Judaism, and refers to a system of eating only specific foods, or foods prepared only in a specific way. Some foods are banned altogether, such as pork and shellfish, which means that certain collagen supplements will not be kosher. For instance, some collagen supplements take their collagen from porcine (pig) sources.
And even when we turn to collagen taken from fish, not all marine collagen is created equal. Marine collagen is a blanket term for collagen derived from any kind of marine life, and some marine collagen may contain shellfish - which, as we’ve just mentioned, is not kosher. When it comes to fish, in order to be kosher, it has to have scales and fins. This might sound obvious but it’s important to note that shellfish are fish that do not have scales or fins, and for this reason they are not kosher.
Absolute Collagen does not contain shellfish or crustaceans. Our marine collagen supplement uses collagen taken from the tilapia and pangasius fish. Unfortunately, using these two types of fish means there is no decisive answer to whether or not Absolute Collagen is kosher, because, while tilapia fish are kosher, there is ongoing debate about whether pangasius fish are also kosher. Pangasius have scales and fins, which would make them kosher, but are related to catfish, which are not kosher. To be on the safe side, we would advise that Absolute Collagen is not kosher, but would recommend that you consult an expert for specific advice.
In short, not all collagen is kosher, including Absolute Collagen. As a rule, we would always advise that you check the labels of your collagen supplement before taking a new one, as there are lots of different ingredients out there.
Islam: Is Collagen Halal?
Halal is associated with the religion of Islam, and refers to whether certain foods and drinks are permitted (halal) or not permitted (haram).
Of the various food groups, meat is the most heavily regulated, and meats are designated halal or haram on a case-by-case basis depending on the method used to slaughter the animal. For this reason, it’s difficult to say whether any specific animal-derived collagen is halal, as it depends on the methods used to slaughter the cows or chickens. Some collagen brands or products are certified halal, so you should always check the labels and websites on a case-by-case basis.
There is an exception: pigs are always haram, regardless of the methods used to slaughter them. This is why Muslims do not eat pork, and it’s also the reason that collagen from pigs (the porcine collagen we mentioned above) is never halal, just as it can never be kosher.
When it comes to marine collagen, the issue is more straightforward. Fish are halal, and at Absolute Collagen we only use fish collagen in our collagen supplement. The flavourings we use contain a minute amount of alcohol, which means it’s not suitable for Muslims and those following a halal diet.
Jainism, Hinduism & Buddhism: Is Collagen Suitable For Vegetarians?
There are several other religions whose followers adhere to vegetarian diets, such as Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism - and of course, some people are vegetarians for non-religious reasons, too. But the question is - can collagen be suitable for vegetarians?
The short answer is no, unfortunately not. This is because collagen is derived from animals, whether that’s chicken, pig, cow, or fish. There is no such thing as vegan collagen, as collagen is not found in any plant matter.
However, there are several things to consider when deciding if Absolute Collagen is right for you. When it comes to Jainism, the rules on vegetarianism are strict and clear: Jains do not eat anything that has a soul or potential life - in this regard, all forms of collagen are prohibited, as they all come from animal sources.
In terms of Hinduism and Buddhism, there is some flexibility around collagen supplements. This is because, although vegetarianism is often associated with Hinduism, not all Hindus are vegetarian. A vegetarian diet is encouraged, but not a strict rule. This is the same for Buddhists - not all Buddhists are vegetarian, but kindness to animals is a key part of the religion.
However, not all collagen supplements are suitable even for meat-eating Hindus, because cows are sacred in Hinduism and so collagen derived from cows (aka bovine collagen) would not be appropriate. At Absolute Collagen, however, our collagen comes from fish skin, which means it is suitable for pescetarians, although not for strict vegetarians. Plus, we only use fish farmed for human consumption, which means none of the fish are killed solely for their collagen. In fact, the collagen is actually a by-product of the fish, ensuring less waste.
So there you have it - Absolute Collagen is suitable for pescetarians and those following a halal diet. Do you have any other dietary requirements we haven’t discussed above? Get in touch and our friendly team will be happy to help you.