Is Glycerol (or Glycerin) Vegan?


Glycerol, which is also called glycerine and glycerin, is a thick, sweet, substance.

It’s used mainly in food as a sweetener (that also helps preserve food), and in certain pharmaceutical products (even toothpaste).

Some glycerol is vegan, but some is not.

Where Does Glycerol Come From?

glycerol molecular structure

Glycerol is a substance derived from triglycerides that can be obtained from both animal sources (usually tallow – cows) and plants (mainly soybeans and palm).

Glycerol from animal sources obviously isn’t vegan, but even vegetable glycerol is tricky.

Is All Vegetable Glycerin Vegan?

Glycerin from soybeans is clearly vegan.

But palm oil is more controversial among vegans. Some argue that it is vegan, while others argue that it’s not due to the number of animals killed in the process of clearing room for palm trees.

You can see why I don’t think it is in my post about whether or not palm oil is vegan.

I’ll let you decide how you personally stand on the matter.

Most labels simply put “glycerin” on the ingredients list, but some do specify “vegetable glycerol,” which could be from soy, palm, or other plants.

If you want to be sure that the glycerol is vegan, the only definitive way is to contact the manufacturer directly and ask what type they use.

In summary: I don’t think you can assume that everyday glycerol is vegan. If you’re okay with palm oil, then look for products that specifically state they use “vegetable glycerol”.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.


  • Rainforest is destroyed just as much for growing soya beans as it is for growing palm oil. Animals and their habitat lose out in exactly the same way. If someone thinks palm oil isn’t ethical, the same applies to soya. Just look atthe loss of Amazonian virgin forest.