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Global News
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Veggie FAQ's
What's the difference between Vegetarian and Vegan?
What does Veg*n Mean?
What's Vegetarian Cheese?
What's Veg*n Wine and Beer?
Do I need protein, iron and calcium to stay healthy?
Do I need Fish Oil to stay healthy?
Does Organic mean Vegetarian?
Clothing and Vegans... What can I wear?
Is all jewellery suitable for Veg*ns?
What Food Additives are suitable for Veg*ns?
New Veggies Information Path
* VeggieGlobal Intro
1 Subscribe Free
2 Becoming Veggie
3 Veggie FAQs
4 Nutrition Guide
5 The Turning Year
6 Watch Out For...
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VeggieGlobal's Guide

VeggieBite ...
THE number of animals killed for food worldwide in 1998 was 43.2 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture organization.
This included: *290 million cattle, buffalo and calves *1.1 billion pigs *802 million sheep and goats *41.1 billion chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese The figures exclude some small countries and 'non-slaughter' deaths that are not generally reported.

Vegetarians and Vegans
(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 list either.
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" mean?

A. Although 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.
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 rennet.
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 at "Watch Out For"


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:

Egg albumen

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 Out For"

Protein, Calcium & Iron.

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 needs.

Proteins. It's a 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.)

Note: 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.
Additional calcium 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 guide

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 guide


Q. When food is labelled organic (or Bio) does it mean it's automatically suitable for veggies?

A. No.
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 real meaning.
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?

A. If 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).
Many 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 petrochemicals. 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 bottles. Sounds 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.

So what is the most environmentally friendly answer for responsible vegetarians?
Even if
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 for veggies.
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 non-biodegradable petrochemicals. VeggieGlobal suggests you set a threshold date for yourself when buying vintage clothes; for example the year 1970. Buy whatever long-wearing clothes from 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.

* Clothes 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?

A. No.
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?

A. No.
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.

When 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".

VeggieGlobal 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 diet.

Food Additives

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 Labelling Campaign


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 yummy recipes.


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