The Places A Vegetarian Should Always Check

Morroccan Grain BowlNowadays it is so easy to follow a Vegetarian or Vegan diet that it makes you wonder how on earth anyone managed 15-20 years ago! There are “free-from” shelves, separate menus, clear labelling and a whole host of recipes, advice and tips on how to make this change as easy and nutritious as possible.

With another National Vegetarian Week (13-29th May) here, we should be celebrating how popular abstinence from meat and animal products has become. According to the figures from The Department of Food and Health Standard Agency and their National Diet and Nutrition Survey, between the years of 2010-2012 the amount of both adults and children who began to follow Vegetarian diets, almost tripled!

However, even though there is a huge amount of help available to Vegetarians and Vegans, there are still some areas that you need to watch out for, where animal products quietly lurk.

• Alcoholic Drinks. Some beers, wine and cider are ‘fined’ using isinglass, a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. Gelatine, a protein obtained by boiling animal tissues can also be used.

• Soft drinks are another one to watch. Some drinks may also contain gelatine, which is used as a stabiliser for orange beta-carotene, the colour in orange and fizzy drinks. Some variants of vitamin drinks containing vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol, may be sourced from lanolin in sheep’s wool. Some fresh juices (particularly orange and apple) may also be fined using isinglass.

• Sauces, Stocks and Gravies. Here we have gelatine and animal fats being possibly forgotten. How about Worcestershire Sauce and it’s anchovy addition?

• Animal derived rennet can be found in whey powder, which can be found in a number of places – crisps, cereals, biscuits, chocolate and ice cream.

• Gelatine can be hidden away in sweets, jellies, yoghurts and desserts and is an animal product, as described above.

• Carmine (or E120 Cochineal) is the gloriously red food colouring found in many sweets and desserts and comes from a crushed cactus insect.

• Products fortified with Vitamin D (milk and cereal products) should be considered carefully. As already mentioned, there is a form of Vitamin D that is derived from the lanolin found in sheep’s wool and this isn’t always vegetarian. It is never Vegan, so be warned.

• Cheese is not always vegetarian. Parmesan, Gorgonzola or Grana Padano are all types that traditionally use rennet in the production so look out for the vegetarian options instead.

• Bread products can use additives that are not considered vegetarian. Takeaways and chip shops can use animal fat to cook in and fish sauce and shrimp paste can be found in sauces and marinades.

Even though these hidden ingredients can sound quite alarming, it is reassuring to know that our UK labelling system is required, by law, to note every ingredient in a product and many now officially label foods as “vegetarian”. Good to know!

However, it would be worth pointing out here, during our wonderful Vegetarian Week, that the best peace of mind to be found in any Vegetarian or Vegan diet, would be to make from scratch where ever possible. You know what goes into your food, you have control and it really can be quite simple and very tasty!

So, celebrate Vegetarian Week, pop down to the store and be inspired by the choice of ingredients, pick up some recipes and discover just how easy it can be.


Moroccan Grain Bowl

Root Soup


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