A-Z of Vegetarianism


Lactic acid – Although originally discovered in sour milk, lactic acid is produced by fermentation in many carbohydrates and is also the product of glucose metabolism in muscle under extreme exertion.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians – Veggies who eat eggs (the ovo bit) and dairy products (lacto). Lacto-ovo veggies are the most common “type” of vegetarian in the UK. Lacto vegetarians include milk, but not egg, in their diets.

Lactose – The carbohydrate of milk, sometimes called milk sugar. Unlike other sugars lactose does not contribute to tooth decay unless you leave your teeth in milk for a very long time!

Ladies fingers – Also known as okra, a vegetable, commonly used in Asian, Middle Eastern and African cooking, that is a good source of vitamin C and calcium.

Lamb – Meat from sheep that are younger than 1 year old. Today there are approximately 36 million sheep in the UK and whilst their natural lifespan is 15 years most are slaughtered as lambs.

Lamb’s lettuce – Sometimes called corn salad, it has small, soft rounded leaves and a slightly nutty flavour.

Lamb’s wool – Wool from a lamb (surprise, surprise) or a drink made by pouring hot ale over roasted apples and adding sugar and spices.

Lamprey – An eel-like fish with a funnel-like sucking mouth. King Henry the First died in 1135 from eating too many lampreys. See, even then a well-balanced veggie diet was more healthy!

Lard – Rendered fat from animal carcasses, mmmmm! Lard is still used in some biscuits, cakes (including lardy cake) and pastries so it’s always important to check the ingredients when buying these products.

Lasagne – A thin sheet of pasta which has also become the generic name for a traditional Italian meal made with the very same wide strips of pasta, layered with sauces and topped with cheese. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian versions including roasted vegetables or spinach and ricotta. Click here for an easy lasagne recipe.

Lassi – A drink that originated in Asia, made using yoghurt or buttermilk mixed with water and usually flavoured with fruit and sugar.

Leather – Animal skin! There are many alternatives to leather including natural fabrics or manufactured materials such as vinyl and nylon. Many people who don’t want animals dying for their dinner, prefer not to wear them either! Click here for more information. Click here to have your say about leather!

Lecithin – An emulsifier used in food processing, commonly made from soya, peanut and maize and therefore normally suitable for veggies.

Leek – A busy market town in the Staffordshire Moorlands near to the peak district national park. Click here for a delicious leek recipe.

Legumes – Seeds such as beans, peas, and lentils which are grown in pods and eaten as vegetables. Very good sources of protein.

Lemon balm – A leafy herb used in fruit salads, teas and even ice cream! The leaves give off a strong lemon smell when rubbed.

Lemon grass – A tropical grass with a lemony scent often used in South East Asian cooking.

Lentils – A pulse which is also a legume (see above) and comes in many sizes, colours and varieties. Packed with protein, iron, folate and fibre. Click here for a hearty lentil soup recipe.

Lima beans – Also known as butter beans.

Linseed – See flax.

Liquorice – The root and extract from the liquorice plant is not only used in sweets but also to flavour medicines. Pontefract cakes are liquorice sweets that were named after the Yorkshire town of Featherstone, where the plant has been grown since the 16th century.

Listeria – A bacteria often found in soil which can cause disease in humans, with pregnant women, babies and the elderly the most at risk. Main sources of infection are soft cheeses, raw vegetables and some meat products.
Locust bean – Another name for the carob bean.
Loganberry – A cross between a European raspberry and a Californian blackberry.
Lychee – A small fruit native to Southern China but now found in many areas of Asia, Mexico and South Africa. It has a knobbly, tough, pink skin which is easily removed to reveal the sweet, white fruit inside.
Lycopene – Red pigment found in the skins of tomatoes, the flesh of the pink grapefruit and other red fruit and vegetables but not strawberries, cherries or gobstoppers. Lycopene is a powerful anti-oxidant and immune system booster.

K is for…
Kale: An easy to grow variety of cabbage whose central leaves don’t form a “head”. Kale is full of natural goodies such as calcium and vitamin C but beware, these can be easily reduced in value if overcooked. Click here for a curly kale and potato cake recipe.
Kebab: Whilst its name derives from the Arabic for ‘fried meat’ a kebab can now refer to a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. For example, a doner kebab is marinated mutton or lamb packed into a cylindrical mass, sometimes colloquially referred to as an elephant’s leg, and cooked on a rotating grill. Of course it is possible to enjoy delicious vegetarian alternatives. Click here for a tofu kebab recipe. Also available as a bookmark. For a messy, sweet treat, which might just about be called a kebab, try skewering chunks of fruit and then covering them in melted chocolate. This can either be eaten straight away or left for the chocolate to set.
Kedgeree: Originally an Indian vegetarian meal made from rice and lentils (or other pulses), it became quite common as a breakfast dish made with fish, rice and eggs amongst those who could afford such things during Victorian times. For a tasty veggie alternative why not swap the fish for slices of smoked tofu?
Kefir: A fermented drink traditionally made by putting kefir grains into cow, sheep, or goat milk. Kefir grains are a mass of bacteria such as microbial polysaccharide, containing Streptococcus spp., Leuuconostoc spp., mesophilic and thermophilic Lactobacillus spp., and yeasts. But no doubt you already knew that.
Kelp: A brown seaweed sometimes consumed directly as a foodstuff or used as a food ingredient. Its ash is also used as a source of alkali and iodine in soap and glass production.
Ketchup: A condiment or spicy sauce made from the juice of fruit or vegetables, vinegar and spices. The main ingredients of tomato ketchup are usually tomato paste, corn syrup or sugar, vinegar and herbs and spices. Be warned though, some ketchups can have high levels of sugar and salt.
Ketjap Manis: A very rich, dark brown, syrupy, thick Indonesian sauce similar to, but sweeter than soy sauce. It is sweetened with sugar and seasoned with different ingredients such as garlic and anise. It is commonly used in marinades and to flavour Indonesian dishes.
Kidney beans: So called because of their kidney shape… and also possibly because they are beans! Often used as the main ingredient in chilli and also with rice in the Caribbean dish ‘rice and peas’ (for any PE teachers reading this, the kidney bean is the pea item in this meal!)
Take note, incidents of food poisoning have been associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked red kidney beans. It is not advisable to sprout kidney beans! Dried kidney beans should be soaked for at least 8 hours in enough cold water to keep them covered at all times. After soaking, the beans must be drained and rinsed. They should then be placed into a pan with cold water and brought to the boil. The beans must boil for at least 10 minutes to destroy any toxins. After this the beans should be simmered until cooked (approximately 45-60 minutes) and they should then have an even creamy texture throughout – if the centre is still hard and white, they require longer cooking. Happily, canned kidney beans come ready cooked! The kidney bean is a good source of protein, carbohydrate, folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), fibre, iron, potassium and manganese.
Kissing crust: Although there is some disagreement over its definition, Samuel Johnson, the Oxford English Dictionary and even my old mum all think that it is the pale and undercooked part of a loaf of bread where it has touched the crust of another loaf during baking.
Kiwi fruit: Originally from China, and sometimes still called the Chinese gooseberry, this fruit is not to be confused with the flightless bird often found in New Zealand. It is a rich source of Vitamin C (the fruit, not the bird) and there are approximately 400 different varieties, but don’t expect to find more than one type in your local supermarket. And your starter for ten, which country produces the most kiwis each year? Yes, that’s right, it’s Italy!
Kohlrabi: A member of the cabbage family and a rich source of vitamin C. It can be steamed, boiled, sliced, stir-fried or added to soups and stews.
Kombu: Dried Japanese seaweed often used to flavour soups and stews. When cooked with beans it can reduce their flatulent effect!
Korma: A mild and creamy curry usually made with vegetables, stock/water, spices and cream or yoghurt. Click here for a classic quick korma recipe.
Kosher: The selection and preparation of foods to meet Jewish ritual and dietary laws.
Krill: Various species of shrimp-like creatures which play a vital role in the aquatic food chain. Whales, seals, fish and other sea animals feed on them and without krill most of the life forms of the Antarctic would become extinct. Even with all these predators, Krill can live for up to ten years, diving to the depths of the ocean, or sometimes impersonating Ernest Shackleton, to protect themselves.
Kulfi: Frozen dessert originating from India, sometimes made without milk but dairy varieties are more commonplace. Kulfi is similar to ice cream but isn’t whipped so is usually denser and richer. Click here for a recipe.
Kumquat: Small orange citrus fruit whose skin is allegedly sweeter than its flesh. A rich source of vitamin C.

J is for:
Jacket Potato: An excellent convenience (though not necessarily fast) food. Jacket potatoes can be a low-fat, high fibre base for a whole variety of meals. Try adding beans, cheese, veggie sausages, curry, chilli… In fact almost all veggie main meals will go well with a baked spud! Why not try cooking one instead of rice or pasta with your favourite sauce?
Jaggery: Either unrefined, coarse, dark, natural sugar made from the sap of the coconut palm or raw sugar cane juice that is often used as a sweetener in Asian sweets. As it is unrefined it contains more mineral salts than refined sugar.
Jalapeno peppers: A member of the chilli family whose name originates from the city of Xapala, in Mexico, where it was first discovered.
Jam: A generic term for any preserved fruits or vegetables that have been mashed, pulped or chopped and boiled with sugar and water.
Jambalaya: Traditional Cajun meal usually made with rice and ham, sausage, chicken or fish although it’s very easy to make a veggie version and is a good way to use up any spare vegetables. Click here for a recipe.
Jelly: Although commonly made with gelatine, veggie versions of this wobbly party treat are usually available. Click here for more details.
Jelly Beans: These small bean shaped sweets are available in a wide variety of colours and flavours. Bogey flavour was even featured in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone but thankfully that’s not yet made it into the shops. Jelly beans are often suitable for veggies but can sometimes include gelatine andcochineal.
Jersey Royals: An early season (new) potato with a waxy texture and delicious buttery taste. Only potatoes actually grown in Jersey can be called Jersey Royals and outside of Jersey can only be bought in Great Britain.
Jerusalem Artichoke: This vegetable has no connection with Jerusalem and is not even an artichoke! In-fact it’s not even a vegetable! Only joking… it is a vegetable, a root vegetable no less, but it does belong to the sunflower family of plants! Some people will even have you believe that it got its name from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. It has a mild taste similar to, wait for it, wait for it, artichokes! Be warned though, eating Jerusalem artichokes can give some people excess wind! Toot toot!
Jojoba: A shrub, usually pronounced “hohoba”. It’s seed has been used as a food and drink source and its oil is sometimes used in cosmetics and as a coating agent for dried fruit.
Julienne: Commonly used to describe vegetables, such as carrots and celery, that have been cut into thin strips. Can also refer to a light vegetable soup.
Junket: A sweet dessert made from milk which has been heated with rennet. Can be vegetarian.
Junk Foods: Food and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugars with little nutritional value but high calorie content.
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I is for…
Ice cream: The basic ingredients of ice cream are fat, milk solids, sugar, air, stabilisers and emulsifiers. Unfortunately it might also occasionally contain animal fats and gelatine so it is important to check the ingredients if possible. When in doubt, just look for the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol. Click here for lots more fascinating ice cream information.
Iced tea: A cold tea drink often served in a glass, considered especially refreshing during the hot summer months (whenever they are). Made without milk, but often with sugar and a slice of lemon or other flavourings. Not to be confused with Ice T, a Grammy award winning rapper and actor, real name Tracy Marrow. Click here for more information on marrows.
Imam Bayildi: A delicious veggie dish of Turkish and Greek origin. Served hot or cold, it usually consists of baked aubergines with tomatoes, onion and garlic. Imam Bayildi translates roughly as the “imam was thrilled (or fainted!)”. Click herefor a recipe.
Indigestion: A term used to describe a range of different symptoms relating to the stomach and gastro-intestinal system. The most common symptom is pain just under the rib cage, usually after eating. Other symptoms include bloating, wind, belching and nausea (that’s a normal Friday night out for some of us!) Also known as dyspepsia.
Insects: Supposedly the most diverse group of animals on the planet (and that includes Hebden Bridge!), insects are eaten in many parts of the world and commonly used in foodstuffs as cochineal (E120), which is made from crushed insects, shellac, a resin secreted by insects (which might be killed during its collection), and honey!
Iodine: An essential mineral for the production of thyroid hormones which control many of the body’s metabolic processes. Milk is the primary source of iodine in the British diet and studies have indicated that those who avoid dairy products may have a low iodine intake. Seaweeds are a good source of iodine, and vegetables and grains can contain iodine depending on the type of soil in which they are grown.
Irish Moss: See carrageenan.
Irradiation: A method of sterilising and disinfecting foods using ionizing radiation to destroy micro-organisms and insects.
Iron: Not only a contraption for pressing clothes, but also an essential mineral for good health! The bad news is that it’s the most widespread mineral nutritional deficiency in the world, and the least plentiful nutrient in typical British diets. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, symptoms of which include tiredness, lack of stamina, breathlessness, headaches, insomnia and loss of appetite. Anaemia is fairly common in the UK. The good news is that even those who do eat meat get over 80% of their iron from vegetarian sources. Iron is found in leafy green vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and fortified breakfast cereals (which provide 35% of the iron in British diets). Including vitamin C with a meal (such as a glass of orange juice) can triple the amount of iron absorbed. Click here for more detailed information.
Isinglass: A substance often used in alcoholic drinks and some fruit juice drinks to remove sediment and produce a clear appearance. Derived from the swim bladders of certain tropical fish, especially the Chinese sturgeon, it is therefore entirely unsuitable for veggies!
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H is for…

Haemoglobin: An oxygen-carrying protein containing iron, present in the red blood cells of all vertebrates.
Haggis: Look away now if you are easily offended because haggis is traditionally made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs along with suet, onions, oatmeal and seasoning which is all stuffed stuffed into a sheep’s stomach. You can look back again now… Fortunately a very good recipe for home-made veggie haggis is available on our website and Vegetarian Society approved ready-made haggis is also available.
Halal: Food conforming to Islamic dietary laws
Halloumi cheese: Sometimes known as ‘squeaky cheese’, halloumi is believed to have originated from Cyprus and is now available throughout much of the world. Traditionally made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk it can be used on the barbecue as it doesn’t melt when heated, but be warned, halloumi is not always suitable for veggies. Click here for halloumi skewer recipe.
Halva: The term halva can refer to a sweet or dessert made from sesame seeds and glucose, sugar or honey, or an asian dessert made from carrot, pumpkin, or banana, that has been sweetened and flavoured.
Haricot bean: A small white bean traditionally used for tinned baked beans.
Harissa Paste: An extremely hot paste made out of strong red chillies, garlic, cumin powder, and coriander powder.
Hash Browns: A very tasty addition to a veggie breakfast, hash browns can refer to many different recipes and shapes but all involve fried or baked potato and most include chopped onions. Click here for healthy hash browns!
Hasty pudding: Originally made from flour, milk, butter and spices and surprisingly given its name due to the ease of preparation. It’s main claim to fame is a name-check in the song “Yankee Doodle”!
Hazlenuts: Although it is claimed that there are approximately 50 varieties of hazelnut growing in the United Kingdom, the main cultivated varieties are the cob and filberts. Hazels are lower in fat than most other nuts and a 100g serving contains 7.6g protein.
Hemp: From paper to textiles to building materials and foodstuffs, the plant commonly known as hemp has many uses and is often hailed as a wonder crop. Hemp seed is often eaten toasted and hemp oil is increasingly used in salad dressings and dips.
Hens: There are more chickens in the world than any other bird and most egg-laying hens are descended from the red Junglefowl of south east Asia. For more information and fascinating facts click here and here.
Herbs: Plants which have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses, and not to be confused with The Herbs, a children’s lunch time television programme form the late 1960s.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): As we all know, HFCS comprises any corn syrup that has undergone enzymatic processing to increase its fructose content and then been mixed with pure corn syrup. In North America HFCS is used to replace sugar in many processed foods.
Hoisin Sauce: A dipping sauce originating from China. Although hoisin can be roughly translated as ‘seafood’ in cantonese, it is usually vegetarian. Ingredients include soy sauce, white wine vinegar, black bean paste, chilli sauce, salt and garlic.
Hollandaise Sauce: A creamy sauce made from egg yolks, butter and lemon.
Hominy: Dried maize kernels, sometimes known as samps. Corn grits are ground hominy.
Homity pie: Traditionally an open pie with a potato, onion and leek mixture topped with cheese inside a pastry case that can be eaten hot or cold and was apparently a favourite in Britain during World War II.
Honey: Made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers and used since ancient times as a natural sweetener and health enhancer. The appearance and taste of honey changes depending on which flower the nectar is collected from, where the flowers are growing, what the weather is like and even what sort of mood the bees are in! Vegans don’t eat honey.
Hops: The dried female flower of the ‘Humulus’ plant which is mainly used as the chief ingredient of beer. Used as a preservative and flavour enhancer, Hops give a bitter taste and balances out the sweet flavour of the other main ingredient, malt. Hops does have other uses including herbal medicine and even as a deodorant.
Hors d’oeuvre: French for ‘outside the main work’. Usually small savoury dishes served as starters.
Horseradish: An easy-to-grow vegetable that looks a bit like a parsnip but belongs to the same family as mustard, broccoli and cabbage. Grated or chopped, its root is used to make a strong, peppery-tasting sauce. It is thought that its name comes from the old method of softening the root of the vegetable by having horses stamp on it!
Houmous: A tasty spread or dip usually made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil and garlic, pureed together. Click here for a simple recipe.

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G is for…
Game: Any wild animal usually hunted for food or sport. In the UK this might include rabbits, ducks, grouse, pheasants and deer but will vary from country to country and can even refer to animals like elephants!
Gammon: A cut of bacon or ham. The word derives from the Old Northern French word ‘Gambe’ for hind leg of the pig.
Garlic: Click here for more details.
Gazpacho: A tomato-based soup that is eaten cold! Originally from the southern region of Andalusia in Spain and usually made from tomatoes, olive oil, peppers and cucumbers.
Gelatin / Gelatine: A by-product of the slaughterhouse industry, made from animal ligaments, skin and tendons and therefore totally unsuitable for vegetarians. Drug and medicine capsules are often made from gelatine derived from pigs and cattle although vegetarian alternatives are becoming more widely available.
Gelato: An Italian ice cream which is usually veggie-friendly. Fortunately the word gelato is not related to gelatin, literally meaning “frozen” or “ice cream” in Italian. It is typically made with fresh fruit or other ingredients such as chocolate, nuts, small sweets or biscuits.
Genetic engineering: See Frankenstein Foods!
Gherkin: A small cucumber-like vegetable, usually pickled in vinegar. It has been claimed that running an electrical current through a pickled gherkin will cause it to glow like a fluorescent light, whereas pickling a fluorescent light will definitely not make it edible. Please do not try either of these at home. (Or school come to think of it!)
Glucose: Like the simplest bacteria, our body’s primary source of energy takes the form of glucose which is regarded as a “simple” sugar. It is usually derived from digesting the sugar, starch and other carbohydrates in our food into a form that we can easily convert into energy. Carbohydrates are found in foods such as bread, rice, pasta, barley, millet, buckwheat, rye, and all plant foods
Gluten: A mixture of proteins found in some cereals, particularly wheat, and therefore in many types of bread. Not all foods from the grain family contain gluten. A gluten-free diet is not the same as a wheat-free diet, and some gluten-free foods are not wheat free. It is possible to follow a gluten-free vegetarian diet. For more information click here
Glycaemic Index (GI): A measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. The GI ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels over a period of two hours after the food is eaten. The rankings are between 1 and 100. A score of 70 or more is high, medium ranges from 56 to 69 and low is 55 or less. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. Most fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads, pasta, pulses and milk have a low GI. Corn flakes, rice krispies, baked potato, watermelon, white bread have a high GI.
Glycerine/Glycerol: A colourless, odourless chemical compound, sometimes found in foods and drinks. It can be produced from animal fats, synthesised from propylene or from fermentation of sugars and is therefore not always suitable for veggies.
Goats: For thousands of years, goats have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins over much of the world. In the twentieth century they have also gained in popularity as pets.
Goat’s Cheese: Several varieties of goat’s milk cheese are available but of course it is important for all veggies to ensure that whatever variety they choose is animal rennet-free.
Going Veggie: Click here for more details.
Goji Berry: Goji (also sometimes known as wolfberries) are small, red berries that contain relatively high levels of Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, Selenium and Calcium. They have a similar shape and texture as raisins (but cost a lot more!) and are usually bought in their dried form.
Gooseberry: A small sour tasting fruit that comes in hundreds of varieties and is usually stewed before consumption. It has absolutely no relation to the gooseberry who accompanies a couple on a date. A gooseberry fool is a traditional English dessert generally made by mixing puréed berries, cream and sugar.
Goulash: A stew or a soup originally from Hungary, traditionally made of beef, red onions, vegetables, spices and ground paprika powder but much more delicious when it ’s 100% vegetarian.
Gourd: A member of the pumpkin family, a gourd is the hollow, dried shell of the fruit, live fruit before it is dried, or the entire plant that produces that fruit! Hollowed out Gourds have a number of uses including storage bowls and the resonating chambers on some musical instruments! Birdhouse gourds are commonly used in southern USA for purple martins, which apparently help to control mosquito populations.
Grains: The staple foods of many civilisations for thousands of years. Wheat, barley, oats and rye in Europe, maize in America, quinoa in South America, rice in the East, and millet in Africa.
Grape Nuts: A breakfast cereal first developed in America in 1897. Neither grapes nor nuts have ever been ingredients and it is actually made from wheat and barley. The original recipe did, however, include grape sugar.
Greenhouse gases: So called because they act like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping heat from the sun to warm up the Earth. Most of these gases occur naturally and without them our planet would be too cold to sustain life, but the balance is a very delicate one. Click here for more information.
Greens: My old mum was right when she told me to “eat my greens!” A healthy diet packed with dark leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, chard, spinach and mustard leaf is full of vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, iron, folate and magnesium.
Gristle: Tough, cartilaginous, tendinous, or fibrous matter sometimes found in meat dishes! Mmmmm…

Grits: No it’s not for the road, it’s for your mouth! Grits were originally a Native American-based food but are now most commonly found in southern United States. Three-quarters of all the grits sold in the United States are sold in “the South” stretching from Texas to Virginia, also known as the “grits belt”.
Traditionally, the corn for grits is ground by a stone mill. The results are passed through screens, with the finer part being corn meal and the coarser being grits. Yellow grits include the whole kernel, while white grits use hulled kernels. Grits are easy to make! Simply boil the ground kernels in enough water until they form a porridge-like consistency.
Gruel: Usually made from oats, wheat or rye flour, sometimes even rice, that has been soaked for a long period of time or boiled in water or milk. It is a thin, watery porridge-type meal that can sometimes even be drunk. Historically it was often made from millet or barley and has been a fundamental part of the human diet since ancient Greek times. Eating gruel is sometimes associated with being poor, it was a staple food of Victorian workhouses and even made a couple of starring appearances in novels by Charles Dickens, but it can be a tasty and nutritious meal. In modern day Korea, it is considered a delicacy and there are even “gruel shops” in Seoul.
Guacamole: Don’t let the green mushy appearance put you off, this dip (usually made from avocados, lime juice, onions, coriander, and tomatoes) is lush with tortilla chips or any selection of breads!
Guava: A fruit which appears rough on the outside and is renowned for its bitter sweet taste on the inside. These so-called “superfruits”, are known for being rich in vitamins A and C, and if the seeds are eaten too, they can supply omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Guava fruit is often prepared as a dessert and because of its skin’s high level of pectin, boiled guava is also extensively used to make sweets, preserves, jellies, jams, marmalades, and also for juices. Guava juice is popular in Mexico, Egypt and South Africa. Red guavas can also substitute for tomatoes as the base for sauces.
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F is for… (parental information – Gordon Ramsey’s favourite word is not included in this article!)
Factory Farming: A practice where any number of animals are packed into a limited space in an attempt to produce the highest output of meat at the lowest cost. They are subject to over-crowding, restrictions of movement, freedom to move around, and a lack of bedding, natural light and fresh air. Factory farming is just one of the many reasons to go veggie.
Fajitas: (pronounced fa-hee-tas) A foodstuff originating from Mexico, fajitas originally referred to the specific meat that was served on a tortilla. The word has now evolved to describe a meal consisting of soft circular-shaped tortillas wrapped around a cooked filling. Traditionally fajitas are filled with grilled or fried meat strips and vegetables, but why stick with tradition? See what tasty veggie fillings you can come up it with. Why not try something like guacamole, salad and cheese?
Falafel or Felafel: Small balls or patties of ground spiced chickpeas or fava beans (see below) which are deep-fried or grilled, served alone or perhaps in a pitta bread with salad. Falafels are a popular and usually healthier form of fast food traditionally enjoyed in the Middle East and Egypt. Consider adding tahini, a drop of lemon juice, salad or even humous to your falafel sandwich for a bit of variety!
Fast Food: Any food that is prepared and served quickly, including such delights as chips, burgers, deep fried Mars bars, kebabs and of course falafel (see above!) is usually referred to as fast food. And what delight it must be to stumble upon a falafel van…
Ideally fast food should be enjoyed in moderation and not consumed on a daily basis as it tends to contain a lot of fat (see below), salt and many more calories than a similar-sized portion of a healthy home-cooked meal. However it can sometimes be a healthier option depending on what ingredients have been used and how it is cooked. Grilled corn on the cob, panini sandwiches, jacket potatoes, falafel pittas and veggie burgers can all be relatively healthy and tasty “fast” meals when you’re out and about!
Fats and Fatty Acids: Fats are naturally occurring soft, greasy solids present in some plants and animals. Fats and oils are essentially the same thing with fats tending to be solid at room temperature whilst oils are liquid.
The building blocks of fats are called fatty acids. These can be either saturated, mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated. Foods rich in saturated fats are usually of animal origin, vegetable fats are generally unsaturated. Saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood and, if we’ve been reading our previous A-Zs, we’ll all know that raised blood cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Two fatty acids are termed essential fatty acids. These are linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. These must be present in the diet as the body is unable to make them itself. They are widely present in plant oils such as sunflower, rapeseed and soyabean oils.
Fats have a number of important functions in the body. As well as being a concentrated source of energy, fats act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are also essential for the structure of cell membranes and are precursors of many hormones. For more information click here.
Fava Bean: Also known as the broad bean. See here for more details.
Feathers: Some duvets and pillows are filled with down, the very soft feathers from the breasts of geese and ducks. Chickens and turkeys don’t produce down. Down can be obtained by plucking, but over 90% of it is a slaughterhouse byproduct.
Felt: A material produced by a process that mats and hardens the fibres. Felt is usually made from wool, but it can be made from fur. You should be careful buying a felt hat as it may be either. Rabbit skin is often the source of fur for felt hats.
Fennel: Can be enjoyed as a herb (the leaf), spice (dried seed) or vegetable (the bulb). Whatever way you choose you’ll get a slight aniseed taste! The bulb can be sauteed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw.
Feta: A white cheese traditionally made in Greece from goat and sheep milk, although feta from cows’ milk is also available. Feta has a distinctly salty taste and crumbly texture and is commonly used in salads and pastries as well as in baking.
Fibre: Dietary fibre (or non-starch polysaccharide to its friends) refers to the indigestible part of a carbohydrate food. Fibre can be found in unrefined or wholegrain cereals, fruit (fresh and dried) and vegetables. A good intake of dietary fibre can prevent many digestive problems and protect against diseases like colon cancer and diverticular disease and a well-balanced veggie diet is guaranteed to be rich in dietary fibre.
Fig: The sweet, fleshy, seedy flower of the fig tree, which is often eaten as a fruit. Fresh figs don’t keep for too long and tend to bruise easily but they can be eaten raw, grilled, roasted, baked, or poached. We often see them as a dried fruit or preserved in a jam and used in fig rolls.
Fish: Whichever way you cut it, vegetarians don’t eat fish! You might think that fish are not cuddly, cute looking creatures, but they are cold-blooded water-dwelling animals who have a nervous system and pain receptors like all other animals. They feel pain and suffer when they are caught!
Flax: Also known as linseed, flax is either a dark brown or yellow seed which can be eaten raw or pressed to produce an oil which is full of essential fatty acids and sometimes used to season cricket bats! Its versatility was further emphasised in the Middle Ages, when cricket wasn’t quite so popular, and flax plants were reportedly carried around to ward off evil spirits. Putting a sprig or two in your shoes has also sometimes been believed by particularly gullible people to give them protection against poverty.
Foie gras: To produce foie gras (“fat liver”), ducks and geese are force-fed with large amounts of feed through a long pipe which is thrust down their throats two or three times a day, for a period of two to three weeks, before they are slaughtered. Force-feeding increases the size of the liver by up to ten times and the fat content of the liver exceeds 50%. During the force feeding period animals can be kept in tiny cages where they cannot stand properly, turn round or flap their wings. A number of countries, including Denmark, Germany, Norway and Poland have legislation specifically prohibiting force-feeding. In the UK general animal protection legislation is interpreted as prohibiting force feeding and yet foie gras is still sold in all of these countries.
Folic acid (also known as vitamin M or folate): Folic acid is important for red blood cell formation, protein synthesis, DNA metabolism and is an important nutrient for women who may become pregnant. It is found in yeast extract, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
Food allergies and intolerance: Food allergy is often mistaken for food intolerance. It is important to note that allergy is only one of a number of possible reasons for food intolerance. Food intolerance can be defined as a condition where an adverse effect occurs after eating a certain food or food ingredient. Genuine food intolerance is different from a psychologically based food aversion, where a person strongly dislikes a food and believes that a food produces a particular reaction.
A genuine food allergy occurs when a specific immune reaction takes place in the body in response to consuming a particular food. Allergies often run in families, and people who are allergic to some foods may also be allergic to other environmental factors, such as house dust, animal fur and pollen.
The most common food intolerances, in order of frequency, are milk, eggs, nuts, fish/shellfish, wheat/flour, chocolate, artificial colours, pork/bacon, chicken, tomato, soft fruit, cheese and yeast. Whilst not all food intolerances are related to meat and dairy products, it can be seen from this list that vegetarians, and particularly vegans, will suffer less from food intolerance because they already eliminate some of the most common causes of intolerance.
Frankenstein food: No, not food for Mary Shelley’s scientist who created the larger-than-life fictional monster made up of stray body parts, but quite similar! Frankenstein food generally refers to any foodstuff that has had organisms within it modified by genetic engineering. Whereas traditionally an organism’s genes would have been manipulated indirectly by growers, genetic engineering uses the techniques of molecular cloning and transformation to alter the structure and characteristics of genes directly. Any food and drink approved by the Vegetarian Society will be free from genetically modified organisms.
Free Radicals: Highly reactive molecules which have been linked to both heart disease and cancer. A number of factors, including alcohol, stress and environmental pollutants can increase the generation of free radicals in the body. Polyunsaturated fats can also generate free radicals, especially when exposed to heat or sunlight. Because of this it is suggested that vegetable oils should be stored out of direct sunlight. Mono-unsaturated olive oil is less vulnerable to free radical generation and so is a better choice for frying.
Anti-oxidants such as vitamins A, C and E offer protection against free radicals. Fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in these anti-oxidants
Fur: Most people know about the cruelties involved in obtaining fur. The animals are either trapped wild or farmed and both methods of production involve cruelty. As well as obviously causing the individual suffering of animals caught in steel-jawed leghold traps wild trapping can lead to endangered species being wiped out. The traps do not discriminate against who they catch, so other animals may also be destroyed or maimed, including cats and dogs. As many as 50% of the animals caught in traps will be no use to the fur trade, which refers to them as “trash animals”. Farmed animals, principally mink and arctic fox, are kept imprisoned all their lives in tiny cages. Fur farming is a vast industry with more than 40 million animals being raised in intensive conditions, mainly in North America and Scandinavia. If you’re ever thinking about buying fur just consider what it must be like for a creature like the arctic fox, which naturally roams a territory of about 15,000 acres, to spend its life in a tiny cage.
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E is for ….
E numbers – A food additives numbering system that originated within the European Union and includes food colours, preservatives, flavour enhancers, acidity regulators, thickeners, emulsifiers and antibiotics. The “E” prefix stands for “Europe” and the list includes such well known items as riboflavin (B2), ascorbic acid (C), carrageenan, bicarbonate of soda, and beeswax! Sometimes products may claim to be E-number free, perhaps trying to suggest that all E-numbers are bad news, even though some of the ingredients will have an E-number. Veggies will always avoid E120 (Cochineal) – you can find out more here.
Easy – Yes, it can be easy to go vegetarian! Check out our seven simple steps to going and staying veggie and perhaps have a look at the Meat-Free Made Easyrecipes.
Eccles Cake – Sometimes referred to as “dead fly pies”, these are small, round treats traditionally made with lard and puff pastry, filled with currants and topped with demerara sugar. Named after the town of Swinton in the Borough of Salford, near Manchester. Always check to see if they are suitable for veggies!
Eco-friendly – Having a positive or beneficial effect, or causing the least possible damage to the environment. Going veggie is an easy way to be more eco-friendly and lower your own environmental impact. For more information see‘Why it’s green to go vegetarian’.
Edam – A popular Dutch cheese, often shaped like a ball and encased in a red, yellow or black paraffin skin. Edam is a fairly mild, semi-soft to hard cheese and lower in fat compared to other cheeses. It’s regularly served with crackers, bread, apple and pickle, or on a cheeseboard. Unfortunately most Edam is made with animal rennet, but veggie varieties are available so as with all cheeses, make sure you check that it’s vegetarian.
Egg – An oval or round shaped reproductive body laid by female birds, insects, fishes, reptiles and other animals. The egg consists of a developing embryo, its food store and an outer shell or membrane.
Let’s concentrate on those that come from domesticated laying hens, of which there are approximately 29 million in the UK. In 2007, 62% of eggs came from caged hens, 4% from hens kept in barns and 34% from free-range hens, of which 6% were organic.
Conditions for laying hens are extremely poor for hens kept in battery cages or barns. Buying free-range eggs or free-range egg products means that the eggs have come from hens that have been kept in better conditions. These hens generally have more freedom to move around and also should have access to a number of exits from the hen house. Eggs can be a good source of protein and omega-3. If you enjoy eating them make sure you buy free-range! For more information click here.
Eggplant – No, eggs don’t grow on trees! Otherwise known as aubergine or brinjal, eggplant is a fruit that is closely related to the tomato, potato and also tobacco plant! Originally native to India, eggplant can be found in cuisine around the globe and is particularly popular in Japan, France, Spain, Italy and in the Middle East. Aubergine dishes include ratatouille and veggie moussaka. Aubergine is a source of folic acid, potassium and fibre.
Einstein, Albert – A theoretical physicist, best known for formulating both the special and general theory of relativity, as well as making important contributions to quantum theory. And we all know how useful that’s been. In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Although he wasn’t vegetarian himself, Einstein supported the vegetarian cause for many years. He once stated, “Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” He also said that “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” I think we would have got along nicely. He reportedly turned vegetarian in the last year of his life.
Elderberry – Also known as sambucus, elderberries are small fruits of the elder tree, which grow in clusters with small white, cream, red or pink elderflowers. Elderberries can be blue, black, red or purple and are great for making jam, cordial, syrup and even ice cream.
Emulsifiers – Enable fats to be uniformly distributed and are often used in foods such as margarine, ice cream, salad dressing and many baked goods. May not always be vegetarian so check the label!
Enchilada – Originating from Mexico, enchiladas are filled corn tortillas that are covered with a chilli pepper sauce. Although they are traditionally filled with minced beef or small fish, they can also be served with vegetables and beans. Why not have a go at making your own veggie enchiladas? Fill corn tortillas with tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peppers, chilli peppers etc cover the filled tortillas with a bit of veggie cheese and a chilli sauce and bake in a warm oven for 10 minutes or so. Mmm!
Ermine – The winter fur of dead stoats is commonly known as ermine and is regularly abused by the fur trade and used to trim coats and stoles.
Vitamin E – An antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body to use vitamin K.

D is for…
Daal (also spelled Dahl and Dhal but not dull) – The name for pulses (usually peas, lentils or kidney beans), which have undergone a certain type of preparation that is particularly common in India. This usually includes drying the pulse, removing it from its outer hull and then splitting it. Daal is also the name of a Hindi dish, which involves boiling the prepared pulses in water with turmeric powder and salt.
Dairy – Usually relating to anything that contains or concerns milk and its by-products. The most common type of vegetarian is a lacto-ovo vegetarian who will eat any vegetarian produce containing milk and egg. Lacto-vegetarians on the other hand eat dairy products but no eggs and ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but no dairy products!
Dalai Lama – The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. It has been claimed that the present Dalai Lama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, is a vegetarian. When once asked about what it was like to be vegetarian he answered, “it is wonderful. We must absolutely promote vegetarianism.” Unfortunately reports suggest that he now eats meat and fish!
Damson – A small, dark, purple fruit similar to a plum, often found in jams, preserves and as a liqueur. Not to be confused with a damsel, which is an archaic name for a young, unmarried woman sometimes found to be in distress!
Dandelion – The name, which apparently derives from the similarity of its serated green leafs to the teeth of a lion (dent de lion), is given to members of the taraxacum genus so as not to confuse them with so-called false dandelions such as catsears, hawkweeds and hawksbeards. Often regarded as a weed, but in reality a “true herb”, it is a source of vitamins A and C and also contains vitamin B, potassium and iron. The ancient Greeks believed that dandelion aided digestion, stimulated appetite and increased sexual potency and they (dandelions, not the Greeks!) were also mentioned in Chinese herbal recipes way back in the 7th century. Dandelion continues to be used as an ingredient in many traditional remedies.
The young leaves (before the plant has flowered) can be used in salads, boiled as vegetables, made into a tea or even a soup. Some people suggest soaking leaves in cold water for 30 minutes prior to use will get rid of any bitter taste. If you’re feeling really desperate in the autumn you can dig up the roots of plants less than 2 years old, lightly roast and grind them, before making what’s laughably called a “coffee”. Best not to pick leaves from “wild” places though in case they’ve been sprayed with weed killer.
Deerskin – Leather taken from deer which is usually farmed on large gamekeeper’s estates and then hunted. Deerskin is used to make a number of leather products such as clothing, bags, accessories and footwear, including the bizarrely much sought-after deerskin moccasin.
Deerstalker – Type of hat that is traditionally worn for posing in town centres and hunting, especially, wait for it, wait for it… deer stalking. Its main features are a brim at the front and back and two flexible side flaps, offering protection from everything that the elements can throw at it, except a meteor shower perhaps. The checkered pattern in the twill fabric also serves as camouflage, although not in town centres.
Deforestation – The deliberate destruction of the natural forest, through felling and clearing, mainly for livestock farming and logging. Between 2000 and 2005, 90 million acres of forest were destroyed. Deforestation can result in the loss of habitat, threat to wildlife and indigenous tribes, soil erosion and disturbance to water supplies. It also increases greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon that was previously stored in the trees. It has been calculated that someone living on a vegetarian diet in the UK requires less than half the area of land to grow their food than someone following a conventional diet.
Dissection – An act that involves cutting something into pieces for analysis, be it a statement or argument, plant, animal or corpse. In Biology, dissection usually refers to the examination of plants or dead animals. Vivisection refers to the dissection of a living animal for physiological investigation.
Dolcelatte – A creamy blue cheese made in Italy. In Italian, ‘dolce’ means sweet or soft and ‘latte’ means milk. This cheese is definitely not sweet but it is rather soft! Look out for vegetarian Dolcelatte cheese which doesn’t contain animal rennet.
Dried fruit – Fruit that has been dried! Dried fruit can make an excellent snack as they are typically high in fibre and complex carbohydrates and contain many useful minerals and vitamins. Some brands will also include sulphur dioxide to enhance the colour of the fruit. Britain is the world’s largest importer of dried fruit.
Durum – A type of wheat, which is ground into flour and used to make foodstuffs such as macaroni, pasta and bread. In Latin, the word ‘durum’ literally means ‘hard’ and this type of wheat is just that, which means it’s unsuitable for making things like cakes. Durum wheat is a good source of protein and gluten.
Vitamin D – Essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphate and healthy bones and teeth. Found in dairy products, eggs, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals, it is also produced by the action of sunlight on the skin. However, in the UK there is a lengthy vitamin D ‘winter’ when the sun is not high enough in the sky to produce useful amounts of vitamin D. The elderly, young children and anyone confined indoors may need to consider taking a vitamin D supplement especially if vegan.

C is for…
Cacao (not cocoa) – Small tropical evergreen tree from whose reddish brown pods chocolate and cocoa are prepared. Cacao is the increasingly trendy so-called raw chocolate which is regularly labelled as a “superfood” due to the amount of nutrients and minerals it contains.
Calamari – When squid is prepared for eating it is often re-named calamari, but no matter how they try to dress it up they can’t hide the fact that it’s still the flesh of a dead animal. It’s usually cut in rings and fried in a batter. Eeyuk!
Calcium – Boasting an atomic number of 20 (whatever that means!), this is the most abundant mineral in the human body with about 99% of it in the bones and teeth. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds (almonds, brazils, sesame seeds), tofu, and dried fruit are all good sources of calcium. Meat is a very poor source!
Calzonne – Folded pizza dough that encases a range of fillings.
Camembert – Ripened soft creamy cheese named after a village in Normandy but not normally suitable for veggies.
Campylobacter – Or “twisted bacteria”. This is widespread throughout farmed chickens and consistently recognised as one of the main causes of bacterial foodborne disease in many developed countries.
Cannelloni –Small sheets of rectangular shaped pasta rolled around a filling and usually served with a sauce. Literally means “large reeds”.
Canola – Cooking oil extracted from a variety of rapeseed.
Caper – Mediterranean shrub with edible flower buds that are often pickled and used in sauces. Also a term commonly used by criminals to describe heists and bank jobs.
Carbohydrate – Our main and most important source of energy, most of which is provided by plant foods. There are three main types: simple sugars, complex carbohydrates or starches, and dietary fibre.
Carnuba Wax The hardest natural wax, currently only harvested in Brazil where it is derived from the leaves of the carnauba palm, usually in the form of hard flakes that range from pale yellow to golden brown in colour. It appears as an ingredient in many cosmetics formulas such as lipstick, lip balm, deodorant, various skin care preparations and sun creams as well as a finishing product in car waxes, shoe polish and even on some sweets and other foodstuffs.
Carob – An evergreen tree with edible sugary pods often used for animal and human food. Carob is naturally sweeter than cocoa, a fact recognised in the Mediterranean region where carob has been widely enjoyed for its nutritional benefits and natural sweetness for centuries. Carob does not contain caffeine.
Carrageen – Edible seaweed sometimes called Irish moss. Carrageenan is a carbohydrated extract from carrageen and better known to its friends as E407.
Casein – A protein extracted from milk.
Cashmere – A hugely expensive fibre extracted from the underbelly of a breed of Himalayan goat (it’s the animal’s natural protection from the severe cold). It is usually obtained by combing each goat by hand during the moulting season. One goat yields only about 4oz of cashmere per year and on average, it takes the yield of three goats to make one sweater. About 85-90% of the world’s cashmere comes from China.
Catgut – Strong chord made from the dried intestines of sheep and other animals that was traditionally used for violins and harps. Fortunately most musical instruments produced today utilise steel or nylon strings.
Caviar – The processed and salted eggs of certain species of fish, most notably the sturgeon (black caviar) and salmon (red caviar). The fish must be killed to obtain the eggs. It is somewhat bizarrely marketed worldwide as a delicacy!
Chamois – Soft suede leather usually made from the skins of sheep and goats.
Chick peas -A member of the pulse family, high in protein (a whopping 16g per 200g) chick peas are also a helpful source of zinc, fibre and folate. Chick peas are used in some great veggie dishes including humous, falafel and curries.
Cholesterol – Present in all animal tissues but absent from plants! It is essential as a component of cell membranes but seeing as though our bodies can make their own cholesterol a dietary source is somewhat surprisingly not essential. There are two main types, low density lipoprotein (LDL, not to be confused with Lidl) and high density lipoprotein (HDL), sometimes also referred to as bad and good cholesterol! High blood cholesterol is linked with heart disease but it is the LDL type which causes the problems. HDL may actually help protect against the risk of heart disease.
Cloud Cuckoo Land – The place to find people who think eating meat is natural.
Cocoa (not cacao) – The dried and partially fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree, also the name for a drink commonly known as hot chocolate but not to be confused with the coca plant which can be used to create cocaine.
Cochineal – A crimson substance, E120, made from crushed insects and predominantly used for colouring foodstuffs.
Cock-a-leekie – Soup traditionally made from fowl, usually chicken (that’ll be the “cock”), and leeks (suppose that’ll be the “leekie” bit) but vegetarian options are available.
Cod-liver oil – Exactly what it says on the tin, packet or bottle. Oil extracted from livers of dead cod and other related fish.
Codswallop – See Gordon Ramsey.
Consommé – Clear soup often, but not always, made from meat stock.
Cous Cous – Teeny weeny spherical granules, usually about 1mm in diameter, made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. Traditionally served under vegetable stew but also regularly used as a side-dish. It can also be eaten alone flavoured or plain, warm or cold, and some hardy souls even claim to enjoy it as a dessert.
Crudités – Fancy name for raw vegetables which are usually served with dips.
Vitamin C – Also known as Ascorbic acid and essential for healthy skin, bones, teeth and gums, resistance to infection and wound healing, energy production and growth. Found in citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, berries, peppers.

B is for…

B Vitamins – All veggies worth their salt should do their best to know why Vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyancobalmin), folate, pantothenic acid and biotin are so important! The names might seem confusing but these nutrients help us to convert the carbohydrates in our food into energy. They are needed for the metabolism of amino acids, rapidly dividing cells and the metabolism of fat. You can consume most of these B-vitamins in wholegrain cereals (especially wheatgerm), nuts, pulses, seeds and green leafy vegetables. However B12 is the one to watch out for as it usually isn’t present in plant foods. You’ll find it in dairy produce and eggs, yeast extracts (such as Marmite), some soya drinks, veggie burgers and fortified breakfast cereals. It’s always worth checking the ingredients list! And be warned: diets lacking in B vitamins may lead to multiple deficiency diseases, including Beriberi (see below).
Bacon – No, not that cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig (or the early 17th century English statesman and philosopher) but the delicious low fat, low calorie veggie alternative which is perfect for sandwiches, fry-ups and cooked breakfasts. The recent World Cancer Research Fund report pointed out that there is strong evidence that processed meats are causes of bowel cancer, and that there is no amount of processed meat that can be confidently shown not to increase risk. It concluded that processed meats such as bacon should be avoided!

Baklava – A rich dessert of flaky pastry, honey and nuts. Not to be confused with a balaclava.
Barley – A versatile cereal crop which grows in a number of climatic conditions and is a major food crop in many parts of the world. In the UK it is mainly used to make beer, whiskey and malted drinks! Whole barley grains, pot barley and pearl barley can be added to soups or stews and barley flakes are often added to muesli and other breakfast cereal mixes. Barley provides useful amounts of the minerals copper, phosphorus and zinc. Barley is rich in fibre, particularly the soluble fibres beta glucan and pectin – that’s the type that can help lower high blood cholesterol.
Barn Eggs – The Vegetarian Society has seven simple guidelines on free-range eggs which give consumers complete reassurance on important animal welfare standards. We will not approve barn eggs or products that include them as an ingredient! Barn eggs are taken from hens kept in large windowless sheds with several rows of perches at different heights. In these converted barns, you’ll normally find anything from 9 to 12 hens per square metre. Many hens are unable to lay eggs in nest boxes, so instead lay them on the floor where they may be eaten by other birds, or risk contamination from hen poo!
Bean curd – There are numerous different styles of bean curd, as well as an assortment of ways in which the substance can be used. It’s made using… beans! Tofu is soya bean curd made from coagulated soya milk which is then pressed into molds to solidify. The result is a block of white, neutrally flavoured material which can be used in a wide assortment of dishes and is arguably one of the most remarkable food-substances ever! Tofu is a great source of protein, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
Bearskin – A bearskin is a tall, fur hat which is usually worn as part of a ceremonial, military uniform by soldiers. This type of hat is worn in at least 7 different countries, including the United Kingdom, where it is seen on guards at Buckingham Palace and during various traditional state events. It is claimed that the original purpose of the hat was to add to the apparent height and impressive appearance of troops! In 2005, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) began to test artificial fur for the hats. This followed consistent campaigning against the unnecessary use of real fur. More recently it was announced that the MOD is to meet with representatives from the People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals to discuss alternatives to bearskin hats.
Beavers – Vegetarian rodents with two big front teeth that never stop growing and have to be kept short by gnawing on trees and plants. They don’t eat fish but are famous for building dams in rivers and dams. They’ve got webbed feet, hairless scaly tails, poor eyesight but a good sense of hearing, smell and touch.
Beriberi – No, not an exotic, idyllic island for veggies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Unfortunately it’s much, much worse than that being an unpleasant disease you’ll get if you don’t eat your B-vitamins, particularly B1 (thiamin)! It leads to inflammation of the nerves and cardiac disorder so perhaps it is best to eat your greens, yeast extract, brazil nuts, peanuts, rice, bran, oatmeal, flour, wholemeal bread and sunflower seeds after all!
Body Mass Index (BMI) A measurement which compares a person’s weight and height and, although it does not actually measure the percentage of body fat, is recognised as an established measure for obesity. BMI for vegetarians is generally lower than in meat-eaters and closer to desirable levels. Similarly the prevalence of obesity is also lower amongst veggies. This may be due to vegetarians’ lower energy intake overall, with a lower proportion of energy being supplied by fat.
To obtain your own BMI divide your weight (kg) by the square of your height (m). A “normal” score is between 20 and 25, 25 to 30 is regarded as overweight and above 30 as obese!
Brassicas – Vegetables from the brassica family include: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, swede, turnip, kohlrabi, kale and mustard. Brassica vegetables are highly regarded for their nutritional value so at the risk of sounding like my old mum yet again, it really does make sense to eat your greens (yellows and whites).
Broiler chickens – Broilers are chickens that have been selectively bred and reared for their meat rather than eggs. The industry began in the late 1950’s and there are approximately 116 million broilers in the UK at any one time. Almost 800 million broiler chickens were slaughtered in the UK in 2007.
Buckwheat – A type of fruit seed which is gluten-free (and therefore good for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains) and not a true cereal because it belongs to the grass family. It’s very rich in calcium, can be used as a substitute for rice and added to casseroles and stews. Buckwheat flour is also great in cakes and pancakes and there are also rumours of a buckwheat noodle-cum-spaghetti called soba!
Bushmeat: The term commonly used for the meat of terrestrial wild animals, including gorillas and chimpanzees, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout many parts of the world.
Butter beans: A relatively large, flat, white variety of Lima bean sometimes known as the Haba, Burma, Guffin or Sugar bean but definitely not to be confused with Eric Scott Esch, a professional heavyweight boxer, kickboxer and mixed martial artist commonly referred to as Butterbean. Click here for a butter bean bruschetta recipe.
By-product – A secondary product that is made as a result of the manufacturing of another product. Leather and gelatine are both by-products of the meat industry.

A is for…
Aardvark cucumbers – The only fruit eaten by the aardvark, a cuddly nocturnal solitary creature, native of Subsaharan Africa, that otherwise feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites, has very good hearing and is an exceptionally fast digger. Aardvark cucumbers are also known as aardvark pumpkins or aardvark dung. They fruit underground and have their seeds propagated through faeces. Perhaps best not to ask for it in your local greengrocers…
Abernethy – A hard biscuit, usually suitable for veggies, often flavoured with caraway seeds and sometimes described as a cross between an all-butter and shortcake. A good dunker.
Activism – A deliberate action (or inaction!) designed to bring about change. Perhaps something like writing to your headteacher about improved veggie school meals! Author Alice Walker claims that activism is her rent for living on this planet.
Additives – See E numbers!
Agave syrup – Also known as agave nectar, it’s sweeter than honey, consists primarily of fructose and glucose and has a lower glycaemic index (GI) than many other natural sweeteners.
Albumen – Another name for egg white. Must be free-range to get The Vegetarian Society seal of approval.
Alcohol – When you’re old enough to be tempted keep an eye out for animal derived products that are often used in the fining or clearing process or as colourants and anti-foaming agents in alcohol.
Alpaca – Usually refers to the hair of the Peruvian alpaca, a relative of the llama, but can also be a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair. Might be produced from similar fibres, such as mohair or sheep wool.
Amino acids – Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids, eight of which must be present in the diet. These are the essential amino acids. Unlike animal proteins, plant proteins may not contain all the essential amino acids in the necessary proportions. However, a varied vegetarian diet means a mixture of proteins are consumed, the amino acids in one protein compensating for the deficiencies of another.
Anchovies – Small shiny, silver fish similar to herring, not to be confused with sardines and often unfortunately found on pizzas and in some brands of Worcester sauce. Anchovies are abundant in the Mediterranean and are a significant food source for almost every predatory fish, marine mammal and bird. As its population plummets due to commercial over-fishing the number of predatory species is also sadly expected to decline.

Angora – A fibre obtained from a special breed of rabbit. The rabbits are not killed for their wool, but sheared regularly. They are kept in cages in much the same way as rabbits bred for meat, but as they have a longer commercial life, their suffering might be said to be even worse. Males produce only about 75% of the wool yield of females and so are often routinely killed at birth.

Animals – The most common reason for becoming a meat and fish-free zone is because we know it’s wrong to kill animals for food and we’re opposed to the pain and cruelty inflicted upon animals reared for meat. Disagree? See the ‘Why Go Veggie’ pages.
Ascorbic acid – Also known as vitamin C and essential for healthy skin, bones, teeth and gums, resistance to infection and wound healing, energy production and growth. Found in citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, berries, peppers.


One response to this post.

  1. They moisturize and make your skin more younger looking without the harmful effect.
    There is a difference between certified and “contains” organic ingredients.

    They are, however, very important, as they help to increase collagen production.


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