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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]

Types of vegetarianism

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism[2] ([[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.[3] 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.[4] There are also partial vegetarians, such as pescetarians who eat fish but avoid other types of meat.[4]

Vegetarian food groups

There is 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 a healthy intake of protein, B12 vitamin, and other nutrients.[5]

Commonly used vegetarian foods

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:

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 of:

In comparison to non-vegetarians, practising vegetarians on average have a decreased consumption of:

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.[6]

Traditional vegetarian cuisine

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

This article or section should specify the language of its non-English content, using ((lang)), ((transliteration)) for transliterated languages, and ((IPA)) for phonetic transcriptions, with an appropriate ISO 639 code. Wikipedia's multilingual support templates may also be used. See why. (February 2022)
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
Pasta con i peperoni cruschi, a vegetarian/vegan dish from Italy.
Tolstoy's vegetarian breakfast
Palatschinken with ice cream, fruits and fruit compote from Austria

Desserts and sweets

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 analogs

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

A meat alternative or meat substitute (also called plant-based meat, mock meat, or fake meat sometimes pejoratively), is a food product made from vegetarian or vegan ingredients, eaten as a replacement for meat. Meat alternatives typically approximate qualities of specific types of meat, such as mouthfeel, flavor, appearance, or chemical characteristics.[8][9][10] Plant- and fungus-based substitutes are frequently made with soy (e.g. tofu, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein), but may also be made from wheat gluten as in seitan, pea protein as in the Beyond Burger, or mycoprotein as in Quorn.[11]

Meat alternatives are typically consumed as a source of dietary protein by vegetarians, vegans, and people following religious and cultural dietary laws. However, global demand for sustainable diets has also increased their popularity among non-vegetarians and flexitarians seeking to reduce the environmental impact of meat production.

Meat substitution has a long history. Tofu was invented in China as early as 200 BCE,[12] and in the Middle Ages, chopped nuts and grapes were used as a substitute for mincemeat during Lent.[13] Since the 2010s, startup companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have popularized pre-made plant-based substitutes for ground beef, patties, and vegan chicken nuggets as commercial products.

Commercial products

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.[14] However, the biggest market for commercially vegetarian-labeled foods is India, with official governmental laws regulating the "vegetarian" and "non vegetarian" labels.

Health research

Vegetarian diets are under preliminary research for their possible effects on long-term health. Dietary patterns were evaluated along with their relationship with metabolic risk factors and metabolic syndrome.[15] 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. Adventist Study 2 (AHS-2) compared mean consumption of each food group for vegetarian patterns compared to non-vegetarian patterns.[6]

See also


  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. ^ Petermann-Rocha, Fanny. "Vegetarians: Past, Present, and Future Regarding Their Diet Quality and Nutritional Status". National Library of Medicine. PubMed. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  3. ^ "Definitions". International Vegetarian Union. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  4. ^ a b Harvard Health Publishing (4 December 2017). "Becoming a vegetarian". Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition - Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  6. ^ 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. PMC 4232985. PMID 25247790.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ van der Weele, Cor; Feindt, Peter; Jan van der Goot, Atze; van Mierlo, Barbara; van Boekel, Martinus (2019). "Meat alternatives: an integrative comparison". Trends in Food Science and Technology. 88: 505–512. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2019.04.018.
  9. ^ Nezlek, John B; Forestell, Catherine A (2022). "Meat substitutes: current status, potential benefits, and remaining challenges". Current Opinion In Food Science. 47: 100890. doi:10.1016/j.cofs.2022.100890.
  10. ^ Takefuji, Yoshiyasu (2021). "Sustainable protein alternatives". Trends in Food Science and Technology. 107: 429–431. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2020.11.012.
  11. ^ Holmes, Bob (20 July 2022). "How sustainable are fake meats?". Knowable Magazine. doi:10.1146/knowable-071922-1. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-313-32147-4.
  14. ^ Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland. "Vegetarian/Vegan Supermarket Shopping Guide". Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  15. ^ 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. PMC 3114510. PMID 21411506.