Vegetarian cuisine

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A variety of vegetarian food ingredients that are also vegan.

Vegetarian cuisine is based on food that meets vegetarian standards by not including meat and animal tissue products (such as gelatin or animal-derived rennet).[1] Lacto-ovo vegetarianism (the most common type of vegetarianism in the Western world) includes eggs and dairy products (such as milk and cheese without rennet). Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs, and ovo vegetarianism encompasses eggs but not dairy products.[2] The strictest form of vegetarianism is veganism, which excludes all animal products, including dairy, honey, and some refined sugars if filtered and whitened with bone char.[3] There are also partial vegetarians, such as pescetarians who eat fish but avoid other types of meat.[3]

There are a wide range of possible vegetarian foods, including some developed to particularly suit a vegetarian/vegan diet, either by filling the culinary niche where recipes would otherwise have meat, or by ensuring healthy intake of protein, B12 vitamin, and other nutrients.[4]

Commonly used vegetarian foods[edit]

Vegetable soup and cheese sandwich, a meal which is suitable for vegetarians but not vegans

Food regarded as suitable for all vegetarians (including vegans) typically includes:

Foods not suitable for vegans, but acceptable for some other types of vegetarians:

  • Dairy products (butter, cheese (except for cheese containing rennet of animal origin), milk, yogurt (excluding yogurt made with gelatin) etc.) – not eaten by vegans and pure ovo-vegetarians
  • Eggs – not eaten by vegans and lacto-vegetarians (most Indian vegetarians)
  • Honey – not eaten by most vegans

Vegetarians by definition cannot consume meat or animal tissue products, with no other universally adopted change in their diet. However, in practice, compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians on average have an increased consumption in:

And in comparison to non-vegetarians, practising vegetarians on average have a decreased consumption in:

This difference is observed, but is not required to be vegetarian. Nevertheless, it is relevant when considering research into the health effects of adopting a vegetarian diet. A diet consisting only of sugar candies, for example, while technically also vegetarian, would be expected to have a much different outcome for health compared to what is called "a vegetarian diet" culturally and what is most commonly adopted by vegetarians.[5]

Traditional vegetarian cuisine[edit]

These are some of the most common dishes that vegetarians eat without substitution of ingredients. Such dishes include, from breakfasts to dinnertime desserts:

Vegetarian food products made from cereal grains.

National cuisines[edit]

Buddha's delight, a famous Chinese vegetarian dish.
Indian vegetarian thali
North Indian style vegetarian thali.
South Indian style vegetarian thali.
Sautéed tempeh with green beans, an Indonesian dish
Tolstoy's vegetarian breakfast

Desserts and sweets[edit]

Most desserts, including pies, cobblers, cakes, brownies, cookies, truffles, Rice Krispie treats (from gelatin-free marshmallows or marshmallow fluff), peanut butter treats, pudding, rice pudding, ice cream, crème brulée, etc., are free of meat and fish and are suitable for ovo-lacto vegetarians. Eastern confectionery and desserts, such as halva and Turkish delight, are mostly vegan, while others such as baklava (which often contains butter) are lacto vegetarian. Indian desserts and sweets are mostly vegetarian like peda, barfi, gulab jamun, shrikhand, basundi, kaju katri, rasgulla, cham cham, rajbhog, etc. Indian sweets are mostly made from milk products and are thus lacto vegetarian; dry fruit-based sweets are vegan.

Meat analogues[edit]

Pilaf with soya nuggets
A tempeh burger
Hong Kong-style tofu from Buddhist cuisine is prepared as an alternative to meat
Two slices of vegetarian bacon

A meat analogue is a food industry term for a meat-like substance made from vegetarian ingredients. More common terms are plant-based meat, vegan meat, meat substitute, mock meat, meat alternative, imitation meat, or vegetarian meat, or, sometimes more pejoratively, fake meat or faux meat. Meat analogues typically approximate certain aesthetic qualities (such as texture, flavor, appearance) or chemical characteristics of specific types of meat. Many analogues are soy-based (e.g., tofu, tempeh) or gluten-based but now may also be made from pea protein. Other less common analogues include cottage cheese and mycoprotein.

Because of their similarity to meats, they are frequently used in dishes and food practices similar to meat. The target market for meat analogues includes vegetarians, vegans, non-vegetarians seeking to reduce their meat consumption,[7][8] and people following religious dietary laws in Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christian vegetarianism, and Buddhism.

Increasingly, the global demand for sustainable diets in response to the outsized role animal products play in global warming and other environmental impacts has seen an increase in industries focused on finding substitutes similar to meat. However, the motivation for seeking out mock meats tends to vary depending on consumer group. The market for meat alternatives is highly dependent on "meat-reducers" — a consumer group who is primarily motivated by health consciousness and weight management. Consumers who identify as vegan, vegetarian or pescetarian are more likely to endorse concerns regarding animal welfare and/or environmentalism as primary motivators.[8][9]

Meat substitution has a long history. Tofu, a popular meat analogue made from soybeans, was known in China during the period of the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE).[10] A document written by Tao Gu (903–970) describes how tofu was called "small mutton" and valued as an imitation meat. Meat analogues such as tofu and wheat gluten are associated with Buddhist cuisine in China and other parts of East Asia.[11] In Medieval Europe, meat analogues were popular during the Christian observance of Lent, when the consumption of meat from warm-blooded animals is forbidden.[12]

In the 2010s, owing to concern over global warming, demand for meat from a growing middle class, and major investments by companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, there was an increase in awareness and the market size for meat analogues in Western and Westernized markets.

Commercial products[edit]

Labeling used in India to distinguish vegetarian products (left) from non-vegetarian products (right).

Commercial products, marketed especially towards vegetarians and labeled as such, are available in most countries worldwide, in varying amounts and quality. As example, in Australia, various vegetarian products are available in most of supermarket chains and a vegetarian shopping guide is provided by Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland.[13] However, the biggest market for commercially vegetarian-labeled foods is India, with official governmental laws regulating the "vegetarian" and "non vegetarian" labels.

Health benefits[edit]

Vegetarian diets are associated with a number of favorable health outcomes in epidemiological studies. In a study supported by a National Institutes of Health grant, dietary patterns were evaluated along with their relationship with metabolic risk factors and metabolic syndromes.[14] A cross-sectional analysis of 773 subjects including 35% vegetarians, 16% semi-vegetarians, and 49% non-vegetarians found that a vegetarian dietary pattern is associated significantly with lower means for all metabolic risk factors except HDL, and a lower risk of metabolic syndromes when compared to non-vegetarian diets. Metabolic risk factors include HDL, triglycerides, glucose, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index. Metabolic syndromes are a cluster of disorders associated with a heightened risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Adventist Study 2 (AHS-2) compared mean consumption of each food group for vegetarian patterns compared to non-vegetarian patterns.[5] Health benefits can be explained by increase in certain foods, not just the lack of animal products.

Vegetarian Cuisine is good for the heart as it comprises high-fiber whole grains, nuts, legumes, raw and fresh fruits and vegetables, and other low glycemic foods. Vegetarian Cuisine reduces the risk of cancer as it is a type of animal-free diet. Vegetarian Cuisine also prevents type-2 diabetes and related complications.[15] It is also noticed that people who do not eat meat have chances of having lower blood pressure. This is because vegetables tend to have less fat percentage, low amount of sodium, which positively affects blood pressure. Fruits have a good amount of potassium which helps to keep the blood pressure on the lower side.

As evident by the Adventist Study 2 (AHS-2), the vegetarian diet does not always cause health benefits. This is dependent on the specific foods in the vegetarian diet. The National Institute of Health recommends a 1600 calories a day lacto-ovo vegetarian cuisine for the diet. This recommended diet includes oranges, pancakes, milk, and coffee for breakfast, vegetable soup, bagels, American cheese, and spinach salad for lunch, and omelettes, mozzarella cheese, carrots, and whole wheat bread, and tea for dinner.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rosell, Magdalena S.; Appleby, Paul N.; Key, Timothy J. (February 2006). "Health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets". Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 65 (1): 35–41. doi:10.1079/PNS2005481. ISSN 1475-2719. PMID 16441942.
  2. ^ "Definitions". International Vegetarian Union. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  3. ^ a b Harvard Health Publishing (4 December 2017). "Becoming a vegetarian". Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition - Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  5. ^ a b Orlich, Michael J.; Jaceldo-Siegl, Karen; Sabaté, Joan; Fan, Jing; Singh, Pramil N.; Fraser, Gary E. (November 2014). "Patterns of food consumption among vegetarians and non-vegetarians". British Journal of Nutrition. 112 (10): 1644–1653. doi:10.1017/S000711451400261X. ISSN 0007-1145.
  6. ^ a b Peter Brang. Ein unbekanntes Russland, Kulturgeschichte vegetarischer Lebensweisen von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart An ignored aspect of Russia. Vegetarian lifestyles from the very beginning till the present day. Böhlau Verlag, Köln 2002 ISBN 3-412-07902-2
  7. ^ Schwab, Katharine (2019-07-25). "These plant-based food companies are rebranding to target meat eaters—and it's working". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  8. ^ a b "CONSUMER INSIGHTS" (PDF). AHDB. July 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  9. ^ Penny, J. C.; Swift, J. A.; Salter, A. M. (2015). "'Meat reducers': meat reduction strategies and attitudes towards meat alternatives in an emerging group". Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 74 (OCE5). doi:10.1017/S0029665115003602. ISSN 0029-6651.
  10. ^ DuBois, Christine; Tan, Chee-Beng; Mintz, Sidney (2008). The World of Soy. National University of Singapore Press. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-9971-69-413-5.
  11. ^ Anderson, E.N. (2014). "China". Food in Time and Place. University of California Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-520-95934-7.
  12. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-313-32147-4.
  13. ^ Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland. "Vegetarian/Vegan Supermarket Shopping Guide". Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  14. ^ Rizzo, Nico S.; Sabaté, Joan; Jaceldo-Siegl, Karen; Fraser, Gary E. (2011-05-01). "Vegetarian Dietary Patterns Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: The Adventist Health Study 2". Diabetes Care. 34 (5): 1225–1227. doi:10.2337/dc10-1221. ISSN 0149-5992. PMID 21411506.
  15. ^ "How and Why to Become a Vegetarian". Healthline. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  16. ^ "Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Cuisine". Retrieved 2020-11-07.

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