I realized that I had a bit of an issue this morning. Normally, I either don't eat breakfast or I just eat some toast and butter. However, I'm trying to avoid butter since they wouldn't have used it in the Renaissance if you were Catholic. The protestants had no issue and some sources say that the Catholic church did relax the whole butter rule in the late 16th C but I can't find a direct source.
Anyway, I was trying to figure out if almond butter with cinnamon and sugar - all things found in period- was okay when I realized something, Jam! My nephew's favorite food is "toast and butter and jelly and toast!" which probably should have made me realize earlier that I could just eat toast and jam.Jelly and Jam were both well known in the 16th Century and there was a huge variety. Luckily, thanks to friends and family who know I love anything "Elizabethan" and jellies in particular, I have a ton of good jams and jellies to choose from - like plum and mint. :-)
Now, it does seem that some animal products were used in period (and today) to make the gelatin but there is also vegetarian jams and jellies. That, and boiling some fruit to oblivion to make a decent spread is nothing new. I have no idea -as of now- if there was vegetarian (or if you can get gelatin from fish) jelly in period. My guess is yes based on this: http://www.godecookery.com/trscript/trsct049.html
I know the mint jelly I have is based on an Elizabethan recipe and, based on my reading, I know they had plum jellies and jams. Also, according to some sources, when the meat or animal product was clearly not the main part of the meal, it was considered against lent. This was in conjunction with "sweetmeats". Today, we are perfectly okay in cooking using things like chicken broth to season noodles as long as there isn't any chicken in the actual noodles. Not sure if they had the same mentality back then.