Is Cellulose Gum Vegan?

A common find on the label of just about every type of food, cellulose gum is also found in non-food products, but is it vegan? The answer is yes. 

We’re going to take a closer look from a vegan perspective, to find out what it is made of, and how it is vegan.

What Is Cellulose Gum?

Otherwise known as CMC or Carboxymethyl cellulose, it is derived from the most organic compound on earth; cellulose. It has been adapted to make it soluble and is used for its thickening properties. This is why it is such a popular ingredient in food production.

It is found in a plants’ cell walls and it is used to improve texture and make food feel better in the mouth, the same goes for certain beverages. 

Cellulose gum is often touted as a plant-based ingredient that adds viscosity and helps to stabilize drinks. This means any oil and water-based ingredients don’t start to separate, and the nutrients remain mixed. 

It has its uses in gluten-free baking as it helps the bread to gain volume by trapping air bubbles without the use of wheat flour, and works with dough to obtain viscosity.

What’s it Used For

There are a handful of reasons, and when you see it in place of gelatin, it is good news from a vegan perspective. Here are some of the most common uses:


When working as an emulsifier, Cellulose gum allows the oils to remain part of the mixture without separating. This helps to provide a consistent texture and taste. 

A popular ingredient in vegan ice creams, it works to prevent the need to stir it and stops ice crystals from forming when frozen.

Fat Substitute

Often used to improve texture, fat typically improves mouthfeel, so any low-fat products can benefit from using cellulose gum. 

It emulates the properties of fat emulsions whilst keeping the ingredients well blended, and thickening the texture. It can also replace the use of animal fats in certain foods – another bonus for a vegan.

Calorie Reducer

Because it cannot be digested by humans, cellulose gum adds volume to food. This is why it is popular in dieting products. 

It makes the consumer feel full for longer, without the calories.

Replacing Gluten

Because it acts in the same way as wheat flour, Cellulose gum is a popular gluten-free alternative. The improved elasticity and strength, as well as the air bubbles that help the bread to rise means it is a common ingredient in Gluten-Free baking.

Non-Food Products

The conscious vegan will also want to avoid non-food products that use animals as part of the production. From clothes to household items, it is always better to be certain they are vegan before purchasing.

CMC is often used to make a variety of non-food products such as toothpaste, lithium-ion batteries, laxatives, detergents, water-based paints, a variety of paper products, and even heat packs.

Popular due to its non-toxicity and mostly hypoallergenic properties, CMC is an ingredient that should not put a vegan off making a purchase.

Some products use both, so always be sure to read the label carefully before making a purchase.


A modified food derived from cellulose, it is artificially amended to be soluble and is made from plants, trees, and even cottonseed.

It is the largest source of insoluble fiber that plants produce and is a good alternative to fatty foods when making food thick and creamy. Because it is plant-based, cellulose gum is vegan-friendly, good news all around.

How Is It Made?

Cellulose gum is synthesized by using chloroacetic acid to cause an alkali-catalyzed reaction. This is part of how it is made soluble before being mixed with salts. Then, a purification method is used to remove the salts, resulting in CMC used in food.


Is Cellulose Made From Animals?

No, it is not. Cellulose is derived from plant-based ingredients, typically wood pulp and cotton seeds. This is what makes it vegan and there are no animal by-products used to produce this ingredient.

The fact that it is vegan will be good news to anyone who follows a plant-based diet but is also conscious about other purchases they make. This is because it can also be found in toothpaste, household products, as well as pharmaceuticals. 

Does cellulose gum contain gelatin, sugar, soy, or pork?

It does not contain gelatin, sugar, pork, or soy, and is completely vegan friendly. Interestingly, animals can digest cellulose, which is why cattle, sheep, and even horses can get the nutrients they need from grass.

Cellulose is a vegan alternative to gelatin. Since gelatin is used to thicken certain foods, finding cellulose gum on the label instead of the animal-based ingredient is a step in the right direction.

Final Word

It can be difficult to determine just how vegan food products are unless you delve a little deeper. We are happy to see a vegan-friendly gelatin replacement that can improve vegan ice cream.

Plus, it is just one less ingredient to worry about when you see it on the ingredients list.

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