Frequently Asked Questions

You've got questions about vegetarianism and veganism? We've got answers!

See also the Veg Health FAQ

General Veg FAQ

Q: What are the different types of vegetarians?

A: Most vegetarians (and vegans) fall into one of four categories:

  1. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Consumes no meat, fish, or fowl, including chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, and other seafood. Does consume dairy and egg products.
  2. Ovo Vegetarian: Similar to a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, but also does not consume any dairy products. Does consume egg products.
  3. Lacto Vegetarian: Similar to a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, but also does not consume any egg products. Does consume dairy products.
  4. Vegan: Consumes no meat, fish, or fowl, as well as no products from animals, including eggs, milk, and honey. Most vegans extend this abstention from animal products to also include leather, wool, and silk.

Q: Why do some people choose to be vegetarian or vegan?

A: People decide to be vegetarian and/or vegan for a range of reasons, including:

  • Personal health concerns: Traditionally, most people have cited health reasons as their primary motivation for becoming vegetarian. It has been shown that reducing your intake of meat and dairy products can significantly reduce your risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes, among other diseases. For more information, see our Why Veg - Health page.
  • Animal welfare concerns: Many people also stop eating meat because of compassion toward non-human animals, who are bred, confined, and slaughtered in horrible, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions. For more information, see our Why Veg - Animals page.
  • Ecological reasons: Grazing cattle is the number one cause of rainforest destruction in Central America, while here in the U.S., industrial animal farming continues to be the single largest source of water pollution. For these reasons and many others, people are choosing to go veg for ecological reasons. For more information, visit our Why Veg - Environment page.
  • Spiritual reasons: Many of the world's religions including Hinduism and Buddhism have a basic tenet of non-violence, which often includes non-human animals. Vegetarians and vegans are found in all faiths, however, and many people continue to become veg out of a sense of spiritual connectedness to animals and a commitment to peace.
  • Economic reasons: Many people are finding that eating veg can be cheaper and, yes, more convenient than a meat-based diet. No more high meat and cheese prices. No more throwing away spoiled meat from the refrigerator. For a list of places to eat veg on the cheap in Seattle, go here.

Q: What about "free-range" eggs?

A: A growing number of people are looking to "free-range" as an alternative to factory farm eggs. Eggs (and poultry) may be labeled as "free-range" if they have USDA-certified access to the outdoors. No other criteria, such as environmental quality, size of the outside area, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in this term. Typically, free-range hens are debeaked at the hatchery, have only 1 to 2 square feet of floor space per bird, and -- if the hens can go outside -- must compete with many other hens for access to a small exit from the shed, leading to a muddy strip saturated with droppings. Although chickens can live up to 12 years, free-range hens are hauled to slaughter the same as battery-caged hens -- after a year or two. Free-range male chicks are trashed at birth, just as they are in factory farms. Although free-range conditions may be an improvement over factory-farm conditions, they are by no means free of cruelty. For more information, visit United Poultry Concerns.

Q: What are some common vegan foods?

A: Oatmeal, stir-fried vegetables, cereal, toast, granola, orange juice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, frozen fruit desserts, lentil soup, salad bar items like chickpeas and three bean salad, dates, apples, macaroni, fruit smoothies, popcorn, spaghetti, vegetarian baked beans, guacamole, chili...

Vegans Also Eat...

Hash browns and vegan sausages, tofu lasagna, homemade pancakes without eggs, hummus, eggless cookies, soy ice cream, tempeh, corn chowder, soy yogurt, rice pudding, fava beans, banana muffins, spinach pies, oat nut burgers, falafel, corn fritters, French toast made with soy milk, soy hot dogs, vegetable burgers, pumpkin casserole, scrambled tofu, seitan.

When Eating Out Try These Foods

Pizza without cheese, Chinese moo shu vegetables, Indian curries and dahl, eggplant dishes without the cheese, bean tacos without the lard and cheese (available from Taco Bell and other Mexican restaurants), Middle Eastern hummus and tabouli, Ethiopian injera (flat bread) and lentil stew, Thai vegetable curries...

Q: What can be substituted for eggs?

A: There are a number of ingredients that can replace eggs, depending on recipe. A common one used in baking is Ener-G edd replacer, see the Veg Substitutes page for more details on replacing eggs.

Q: What is tofu?

A: Tofu, or soy bean curd, is a whitish substance made from soybeans. It has a variety of uses in vegetarian cooking because of its bland taste that soaks up other flavors. It comes in a couple of varieties, basically amounting to soft and firm style. Soft tofu is often used to make frostings for cakes, and dips for chips and vegetables, while the firmer style is generally used in stir-fries and soups where it will hold its shape.

Q:What is seitan?

A: Seitan is a form of wheat gluten. It is a high protein, low fat, no cholesterol food that is usually found in the refrigerated section of most organic groceries/health food stores. It is usually near the tofu and typically comes in small tubs (like margarine tubs). It is brown and sometimes comes in strips. Seitan is made from whole wheat flour, which is mixed with water and kneaded. This dough undergoes a simple process of rinsing and mixing to remove the starch and some bran until a gluten is obtained. After boiling in water, this glutenous dough is called Kofu, which can be further processed in many ways, one of which is seitan. Kofu becomes seitan by simmering in a stock of tamari soy sauce, water and kombu sea vegetable. Seitan can be used in sandwiches, or to make dishes such as sweet and sour seitan, seitan stir fry, salisbury seitan, etc.

Q: Is honey considered vegan?

A: No. Insects, including bees, are animals. Honey is therefore an animal product and thus not vegan. However, some people who otherwise identify as vegan do consume honey. When cooking or labeling food for vegans, however, it's best to be on the safe side and not include honey. Agave nectar is a common substitute for honey.

Q: Are there other veg FAQs on the web?

A: In a word, yes. The list below represents only a few of the veg-related websites out there with FAQs: