(what's the difference?):
Q. What's the difference
between Vegetarian and Vegan?
A. A Vegan won't
eat any products that are derived from animals, including eggs
and dairy products. You won't find honey on a Vegan's shopping
You may ask "Why those products, when the animal hasn't been
killed in the process? Well ... many farming processes used to
"harvest" these products are inhumane and cause great
stress on the animals. For example, egg laying hens are often
farmed in appallingly cramped living conditions, while dairy cows
are kept in a permanent state of pregnancy, which means they are
artificially inseminated. Their foetuses are aborted to create
a constant yield of milk. In fact, a dairy cow will only live
for around 4 years of her normal 20+ year lifespan. Once the amount
of milk a dairy cow produces declines, it is unprofitable to keep
her alive so she is sent to slaughter.
Vegans will not use or wear leather goods or any product derived
from dead animals. In fact, to be a proper vegetarian you should
also abstain from buying leather goods because if you don't eat
animals for ethical / compassionate reasons you shouldn't wear
"dead ones" either. Remember, the humane ethics are
identical in both cases.
For more info about other terms associated with veggie-based diets
(and others that you shouldn't confuse vegetarianism with), read
step No 2 - becoming veggie
Q. What does "Veg*n"
it's an abbreviation which may have originally been devised through
the origins of this site, Veg*n is now often used across many
veggie organizations and websites. It's simply a shortened way
to describe "vegetarians" and "vegans" combined
into one word, and its easier when describing
an issue that simultaneously covers both plant-based diet options.
(what is vegetarian cheese?):
Q. Why are some
cheeses OK for vegetarians and others not?
A. Many cheeses contain
animal rennet, which is an enzyme often made from the stomach
of calves and lambs. For example, some cheddar and traditional
parmesan cheeses contain animal rennet.
is also obtained from vegetables, such as cardoons. In
the UK more cheddar cheeses are being made using vegetable derived
rennet (but check the labelling to make sure). There is absolutely
no difference in the taste between cheeses that are made with
either animal or vegetable rennet. Animal rennet is a cheap byproduct
of animal slaughter.
The other thing to watch out with cheeses is if "pepsin"
has been used in the making process. Pepsin is an enzyme from
the stomach lining of pigs and is also used in preparation of
some other foods containing
protein. The problem is that "pepsin" may not show up
on a cheese ingredients listing, even if the cheese doesn't contain
ALWAYS look on the label when buying cheese to make sure it's
suitable for veggies. Remember, if you eat cheeses that contain
dead animals you are NOT vegetarian.
See more on food suitability
Wine and Beer
(what is vegetarian wine?):
Note for VeggieGlobal Kids - This is for grownups!
so pass on the info to your veggie parents or guardians - because
they need to know!
Q. Why are some wines
and beers OK for vegetarians and others not?
A. Many wines and
some beers contain clearing agents made from parts of animals
and fish. For example, wine usually undergoes a process called
"fining". Centuries of tradition in wine making have developed
many different ways to apply fining. In its most natural course
this is achieved by letting the soapy appearance of wine disperse
simply by gravity. However gravity fining takes time and isn't
favoured commercially. So to
speed up the process, fining agents
are commonly used instead and include animal derived:
Isinglass is mainly used in the
fining of beers, often at the end of the brewing process. Isinglass
is often sourced from the bladders of sturgeon fish - but can
also be derived from cod. The dramatic decline of both these species
means they are at high risk of becoming extinct. Sturgeon (from
which caviar comes from) are a focus of concern for CITES (the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora).
Although now a rare practice, some red wines may still be made
using blood (bovine source). Because there are so many small winemakers
across the world - and some of these more obscure than others
- it's hard to determine where and when blood might be used, either
as a fining process or as a colourant. The use of blood in wine-making
is banned in France and USA.
Fining agents are removed from wines and beers before they are
bottled. So if you are a vegetarian and not vegan you may think
that there is justification to consume such wines and beers just
because the animal ingredients are no longer in the end product.
If you think this is justifiable then you'll find yourself in
the centre of the moral maze - led there by an unregulated definition
of how wines and beers can be labelled "vegetarian".
Because the wine or beer end product has therefore no animal-derived
ingredients (because they are removed before bottling) does this
mean the manufacture can claim the product to be "vegetarian"?
Due to the unregulated nature of how manufacturers try to ethicise
their products with adhoc labels it is not possible to be sure
if the wine or beer has gone through animal derived or non-animal
derived fining. This is what we call "veggiewash"; a
manner in which a manufacture contrives a claim - a distortion
of facts - simply to appease the consumer. Therefore a
person who is vegetarian for reasons of animal kindness will avoid
wines, beers and spirits which are derived from the use of animal
parts even if they have been removed from the end product. There
are recent websites listing what they believe to be alcoholic
beverages suitable "veggies" or "vegans".
These lists are based on questions asked to the manufacturers
and their responses. However, we are aware that such manufacture
responses can be based on the "veggiewash" spin whereby
they are claiming the product to be "suitable for vegetarians"
simply because the animal-derived fining ingredients are no longer
in the end product. At VeggieGlobal we understand how difficult
it is to determine which wines are veggie and which aren't. When
we started this Q and A section in the late 1990's we urged you
- to always ask your wine/beer merchant if they can tell you if
the wine/beer you choose is vegetarian or not. We have now become
more aware of the "veggiewash" effect and can only advise
that you ask the manufactures a specifially direct question which
doesn't leave them room to "veggiewash" you!
Here is an example of WHAT YOU SHOULD ASK:
"Is is your product made using animal-derived ingredients
- either finings or other additives?
DON'T SIMPLY ASK "Is your product vegetarian?"
That simply gives them room to "veggiewash" you!
And remember, just because you see wines labelled as "organic"
certainly doesn't mean it's animal friendly!
We hope that once The NOVA Key ethical clarity label becomes commonly
used on alcoholic drinks the confusion regarding fining will become
a thing of the past. (See
The NOVA Key)
Also see more on food suitability at "Watch
Protein, Calcium &
Q. Do I need protein,
iron and calcium to stay healthy?
A. Most of them,
but read all of the following ...
IMPORTANT NOTE: the
following information is for guidance only. If you suffer from
any nutritional deficiency or medical condition relative to your
diet, you should seek advice from your medical practitioner to
make sure that your vegetarian diet is tailored to your individual
complete myth that veg*ns lack proper proteins.
Protein itself is not essential to your diet (unless you
are a body builder), but slow releasing carbohydrates are essential
such as brown rice and pasta. The natural intake of proteins ingested
through a normal vegetarian diet is more than enough for an average
person. Think about it ... a cow eats just grass, but a steak
is full of protein! In other words, we create protein from within
our own bodies. Protein simply adds bulk and this is why meat-eaters
are normally fatter than veggies
- but even vegetarians can be podgy too! (By the way, if you are
an overweight vegetarian, then exercise gives quicker results
than if you are a meat eater.)
A report by the
British Lancet said
that animal fat consumption raises the risk of breast cancer among
women, but vegetable fats do not.
Calcium intake can
be essential and is traditionally found in dairy produce, milk
for example. This has always been considered a convenient source
of calcium, but if you are moving away from dairy products, there
are soya, rice, oat, nut and coconut milk-like products available
which fortified with calcium. However, when you buy soya products,
make sure that the soy beans the manufacturer uses are not from
unregulated plantations created by destroying rain forests and
subsequently the animals that lived there.
In fact, green leafy vegetables and fortified orange juice also
provide plentiful amounts of calcium and with far fewer calories.
In a study of American children between 9 and 14 it was found
that cows milk leads to significant weight gain. It was also shown
that most children of Asian and African origins are lactose intolerant.
based supplements may be necessary for some people. (Check with
your doctor or dietitian) If so, make sure to source calcium supplements
that are suitable for vegetarians.
Note: Only buy supplements which
are not encased in gelatin based capsules. Always read the label
contents for vegetarian suitability.
Iron. Most importantly, with
any vegetarian diet, keep up your iron intake.
Eat plenty of dark green vegetables i.e. broccoli,
spinach and green salads, preferably eaten with tomatoes which
contains vitamin C. Vitamin C helps absorb iron into the body.
Or follow an iron rich meal with oranges, other citrus fruits
or juices. You'll find
more details on this at our nutrition
TIP: Don't boil your vegetables
or microwave them for too long! This destroys nearly 100 percent
of all the nutrients. Lightly steam vegetables instead - or microwave
for just two or three minutes maximum ... this way they will only
loose around 18 percent of their goodness.
Note: The Glyceamic Index
is an important reference to help get you through a full day without
your all important blood sugar levels dropping. You'll find details
on this at our nutrition
Q. When food is labelled
organic (or Bio) does it mean it's automatically suitable for
Organic is the trendy buzz word - now over-hyped by many manufacturers.
In Europe you'll see the term "Bio" which means the
same thing as "Organic". In many cases, things which
contain animal products are advertised as organic or bio. Don't
be fooled into thinking that you are being ethically conscientious
just because you eat only organic foods ... half of them might
have cost the life of an animal. Organic is a great movement in
principle, but use your initiative to see through the hype and
therefore understand the ethical and humane advantages of its
Organic standards differ greatly depending on which country you
live in and which standards organisation is tied in with the product.
Many products are just called organic or bio but with no specific
regulation being applied - so watch out for products claiming
to be organic which aren't!
Whatever the contentions surrounding the organic or bio revolution,
VeggieGlobal encourages you to choose organic fruit and vegetables
whenever you can - Organic contains far more nutrients and your
body doesn't have to work so hard to rid itself of all the artificial
chemicals normally found in non-organic fruit and veg. A healthier
choice all round.
Clothing and Veg*ns
Q. What Can I Wear?
you are going through a dilemma about vegetarian / vegan clothing,
its worth considering VeggieGlobal's own "responsible vegetarian"
philosophy about this.
In fact, ethically minded vegetarians certainly shouldn't buy
new leather. However, some vegetarians might argue that you could
buy second hand items that contain leather (more on this later).
vegans choose not to wear any leather, wool or silk, most being
byproducts of farmed animal slaughter. Instead, more responsible
type vegans may wear organic cottons, hemp and other clothing
made from plant derivatives.* Other
apparel, technically suitable for vegans, are things such
as synthetic fleece and non-leather shoes; products often derived
From the outset, these types of apparel are far from being an
environmentally-friendly answer to avoiding animal-based clothing.
One of the current trends is wearing fleece-based clothes made
from recycled plastic
green ... but it isn't. Every time non-natural fiber clothing
like this is washed they
shed large amounts of microplastics down the drain; pollutants
which end up in oceans and rivers and are ingested by marine organisms
and subsequently the natural food chain consisting of mollusks,
fish, birds and mammals. There is continually growing evidence
that microplastics are causing a large-scale decline in marine-life
and all subsequent species which are linked within its food chain.
what is the most environmentally friendly answer for responsible
shoes or clothing derived from animals might be decades old, hard-core
vegans still won't consider this an environmentally suitable alternative.
VeggieGlobal would argue that at this volatile time in humans
management of the planet's resources, the purchasing and wearing
of vintage clothing (yes, the trendy word for old cloths) is perhaps
the most environmentally acceptable choice, including old leather,
wool, silk etc.** Buying
vintage means you are technically, and somewhat morally, not directly
responsible for the animal's death as it was slaughtered as an
action of the item's first owner. The first owner purchased it
newly manufactured and therefore approved it's death so he or
she could use it. So the consequences or cause of the animal's
death was not due to your action buying such items second hand.
For example, used cars with leather upholstery is a buying choice
that hangs somewhat precariously on the edge of animal ethics
Vegetarians might also feel justified in buying leather goods
made from animals which have died from natural causes.
No problem perhaps? But what about the message it sends out to
people who see you wearing such products but who won't realise
that it was derived from an "ethically" natural death
and so they assume you are a "hypocritical" vegetarian!
Back to vintage options ... A
beautifully decorated silk dress or leather handbag from the 1920's
(both biodegradable) which are bought, cherished and passed on
perhaps for another 100 years, quickly starts to look the most
sustainable and ecologically acceptable option against a fleece
scarf and "veggie" shoes made of pollution-creating
petrochemicals. VeggieGlobal suggests you set a threshold date
for yourself when buying
vintage clothes; for example the year 1970. Buy whatever long-wearing
anytime before 1970 (except
fur, snakeskin, crocodile etc.) even if it contains farmed wool,
leather or silk. Don't buy anything new or old after your threshold
date which contains any animal products and try your best to avoid
new non-animal derived non-biodegradable apparel which contributes
to environmental damage.
made from hemp, organic cotton, bamboo and, to a lesser extent,
rayon / viscose, which undergoes extensive chemical-based processing
to become fiber (Some sources of tree cellulose for rayon have
been linked to rain forest destruction). With all natural occurring
fibers, including hemp and bamboo etc., it is important to determine
where the material was "grown" and make sure you only
buy products made using fibres sourced from plantations which
have not destroyed
rain forests or savannas to create the growing areas.
Don't forget that silk is made from creatures that were killed
to make it - silkworms in fact.
Fur of any age is a contention due to the hyperbole regarding
fur as a fashion statement and its ongoing black-market roots.
VeggieGlobal will never condone the wearing of fur except indigenous
Inuits where climate dictates and plant alternatives are not available
and whereby the animal is consumed and utilised entirely by only
those who kill it.
Jewellery and Veg*ns
Q. Is all jewellery
suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans?
As VeggieGlobal has
become proactively involved in investigating greenwashing within
the jewellery industry in recent years you will find a
detailed answer on this seperate page along with our solutions
via a unique collaborative project.
Fish Oils (Omega 3)
Q. Do I need Omega
3 from fish oil to stay healthy?
Although "Omega 3"
is often considered an essential oil, you certainly don't need
to kill a fish to obtain it.
You can source a far more refined and even safer form of Omega
3 from flax
seeds, pumpkin seeds
and walnuts. Either snack on pumpkin seeds or walnuts on a daily
basis or buy ready-made organic Omega 3 oils and pour over salads,
pastas, pizzas - or anything else you fancy.
Omega 3 is an EFA (essential fatty acid), and various studies
have often suggested that an Omega 3 enriched diet can help reduce
heart disease, lower blood pressure, cut the risk of cancer and
even help memory loss.
In fact the list seems endless as to what researchers claim to
be the benefits of Omega 3!
However, in 2006 the UK's University of East Anglia reviewed 90
studies which found no clear evidence that Omega 3 fats were of
any use at all. Those studies suggested that Omega 3 did nothing
to prevent a recurrence of chronic heart conditions, and excessive
amounts from eating too much fish even increased
the risk of heart disease.
In fact, fish turns out to be the source of Omega 3 to stay clear
of; Oily fish was shown to be potentially unsafe to eat because
of high levels of contaminated pollutants, such as dioxins, PCB's
(polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury.
NOTE: High levels of PCBs
and dioxins can affect the development of an unborn baby.
it comes to determining the true benefits of Omega 3 fat, most
scientists admit that it's still difficult to tell for sure either
way, and research continues to try and discover the true benefits
of this unique "essential oil".
suggests that Omega 3 oils sourced from vegetables (nuts, pumpkin
seed etc) is a wise choice and a moderate amount of the oil should
be consumed daily through these natural sources to maintain a
healthy, balanced diet.
Reminder: You are NOT vegetarian
if you eat fish.
NOTE / DISCLAIMER: Always consult
your medical practitioner before embarking on any changes to your
Q. What Food Additives
are suitable for Veg*ns?
A. This is a complex
question to answer.
Even though a list of additives may be present on a food or beauty
product, it's almost impossible to determine if the additive has
been derived from an animal or vegetable source. This is because
an additive with the same name can be made using different source
materials. If you would like to find out more about which additives
may or may not be suitable for veg*ns, see our Non-Vegetarian
Food Additives List. To help eliminate this confusion
you can also vote on our Ethical
The next step on your New Veggie Information
Path is step 4, the Nutrition
Guide, which provides a host of pages
on all aspects of maintaining a healthy veggie lifestyle - including