Is glycerine suitable for vegans?

I was rootling through my store cupboard yesterday and I came across glycerine (also known as glycerol) - it's used to keep food moist and is particularly common in Royal icing because it stops it going hard. So there I was, wondering, a) what exactly is it, and b) is it suitable for vegans?
Well, the answer is .... maybe. Basically, glycerine is a slightly sweet liquid which is found naturally in blood and fat, but can also be derived from plant oils. It's technically an alcohol too, in that it has three hydroxyl groups (that's an oxygen atom and a hydrogen atom) at one end of its chemical structure. The problem is that most of the time it's impossible to know if the glycerine in your food is suitable because manufacturers don't tend to say where it has derived from. Of course, you could get in contact with the manufacturer and ask them, but failing that it's probably safer to avoid it completely.

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