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Is Silica Vegan?
Silica, commercially known as silicon or silicon dioxide, contains no ingredient that comes from an animal. It is often used as a substitute for gelatin, which is not vegan.
Silica is a vegan-friendly product often used by people with the said dietary restriction. It is a synthetic polymer made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and silicon. It has a texture that resembles rubber or flexible plastic.
Many products in the market use silica as raw material. Here is everything you need to answer the question, is silica vegan?
Silica – Chemical Structure
Silica or silicon dioxide comprises two elements: silicon and oxygen. The chemical composition of this molecule adds versatility to its structure.
This means you can mold silica into any shape possible. As a result, silica has found its use in every aspect of our lives.
Lucky for all you animal-loving people, it is 100% vegan, and there is no cruelty to animals involved in making this compound.
Some of the products that require silica in their products are as follows:
- Cooking utensils
To understand silica more clearly, one must know that it is a part of a vast category of compounds. Silicon is a generic name used for all compounds having silicon as their base.
So, it is essential that you know the common silicon-based compounds and whether they are vegan or not.
Silicone – Vegan or Not
By far, we know that silicon and silicon dioxide are vegan molecules. They do not comprise any component obtained from animal products.
Silicone is another member of the silicon-based compounds family. It is scientifically known as polysiloxane. It is a polymer made with multiple repeating units of the same molecule.
The base of the silicone polymer is silicon. The polymer, in its true sense, does not exist in nature. The silicon molecules are processed to form the polymer chain and give it its characteristic properties.
The processing, indeed, becomes a concern for vegans. The use of silicone is so cosmopolitan that it is hard to ignore that the manufacturing process wouldn’t have used any animal-based product.
One can dive deep into the entire process and look for any non-vegan elements that might exist. But that calls for a complex and tedious task, almost impossible to bring to completion. A synthetic substance undergoes multiple steps to gain its commercial appearance. And tracking every step can be hectic.
Therefore, depending on the ethical strictness of a person, when it comes to veganism, the question has more of a subjective answer to it.
A Seal of PETA
Regarding animal cruelty and exploitation, PETA is the number one organization that comes to mind. PETA has tried to make things easier for the consumer by making lists of items that a vegan should avoid.
As per this list, silicone has not been categorized as a non-vegan product. This might come as a relief to a lot of people who follow the ideologies laid by PETA.
To make matters more precise, the vegan society sells silicone wristbands to create awareness about their cause. This is definite proof that silicone is absolutely fine for people who have pledged veganism.
Even if this isn’t convincing enough, one must look at the bigger picture that veganism aims to put forward. Identifying thousands of different processes and inspecting each step for some contamination can be time-consuming. It will also deviate you from the core purpose.
Silicone – Identifying the Red Flags
Though silicone lies in the safe category for vegans, there might be some obvious signs that you can look for to clarify your doubts.
As mentioned, knowing every step into making the product is impossible, especially when it comes to a product like silicone manufactured by multiple processes.
One thing that is used in everyday practice is fossil fuel derivatives.
The fossil fuel industry does have harmful impacts on the environment, be it flora or fauna. But petrol as such does not qualify as non-vegan. Fossil fuels are formed from the remains of animals that died millions of years ago. This is a possible and practical vegan disclaimer that is commonly used.
So, if petrol is used in the process, you don’t have to worry about the product losing its vegan characteristic.
Silica Gel – Vegan or Not
Silica gel is yet another silicon product used very commonly in households.
Silica gel is a form of silicon dioxide that is porous and amorphous. The molecule’s structure is such that silicon and oxygen are in alternate positions, creating voids. Those voids result in the formation of pores, giving the compound a gel-like consistency.
Silica gel packets are commonly seen in packaging for electronics, medications, and chemicals. The amorphous nature of the gel absorbs any moisture that might build up inside the package.
This protects electronics and pills from irreversible damage.
Apart from packaging, silica gel is also used as an additive in food. It is an FDA-approved ingredient and safe to consume.
Other uses of silica gel include:
- Anti-caking agent
- Conditioning agent
- Emulsifying agent
- Anti-setting agent
- Defoaming agent
- Viscosity control agent
The adsorption property of silica gel makes it a valuable addition to the water purifying system. However, it is not quite a validated procedure but it does see wide usage.
All the different uses of the gel are to point toward the vegan-friendly nature of the product.
Silica for Breast Implants
When using silica for medical purposes, the compound undergoes an even more rigorous procedure.
Just like many other medical products, there is a huge possibility that the implants were tested on animals before they hit the market. This is against vegan ethics.
Veganism is not just restricted to not consuming animal products. It also calls for an end to animal cruelty. Lab testing has always been at the top of the list for the exploitation of animals. Supporting the same can defeat your cause of being a vegan.
Almost all companies must put on the label if their products are vegan or not. It would be best if you did thorough research before finalizing an implant.
Contact the company to inquire, ask experts, and check the packaging carefully.
Benefits of Silica
Silica might not be in your top 10 nutrient list, but many benefits come with it.
One of the primary benefits of eating silica-rich food is that it helps improve bone strength and quality. It plays a vital role in controlling the movement of calcium ions across the bones, thus maintaining structural integrity.
Another benefit of silica is that it promotes collagen production. Collagen is a building block of various body tissues like cartilage, blood, muscle fiber, etc.
It also improves the skin’s elasticity and provides a protective layering for essential organs of the body.
Silicon supplements are recommended for various health issues, including hair loss, digestion problems, weak bones, heart problems, and Alzheimer’s.
Some research also shows the positive effect of silica on the heart and immune health. Regular consumption of silica reduces the risk of getting atherosclerosis. It also helps in maintaining cholesterol levels.
Foods Rich in Silica
Silica is found naturally in several plants in the form of silicon dioxide. Some of these plants include:
- Green leafy vegetables – Many leafy greens are rich sources of silica.
- Alfalfa – Silica present in alfalfa helps reduce hair loss.
- Oats – Oats top the list of cereals containing silica.
- Bell peppers – They have ample silica to support healthy hair and nail growth.
- Beets – Silica content in beets helps form collagen and bones.
- Brown rice – It has the highest amount of silica compared to the other kinds of rice.
- Bananas – Among fruits, bananas are a significant source of silica.
Apart from naturally occurring foods, silicon dioxide is added to meals as a supplement.
The recommended daily silica intake for adults is about 9-14mg per day.
Many consumers show their concerns over silicon dioxide being used as an additive. But that concern lies with almost all the additives in food.
However, research has shown that silica has no harmful effects when used as an additive in food.
Silicon is a molecule that is found naturally in the earth as well as inside the human body. It is also found in multiple plant products. This popularly used food additive hasn’t shown any adverse signs or side effects, as per the research. But it is still nascent to give a ruling.
However, when deciding whether silica is vegan or not, one can safely say yes; it is 100% vegan.
Apart from the synthetic process involved in forming silicone and silica gel, nothing is derived from animal products. It is a more environment-friendly choice as it replaces plastic. It also lasts longer than a lot of commonly used plastic products.