What is a vegetarian cuisine?
"Vegetarian cuisine refers to food that meets vegetarian standards by excluding meat and animal tissue products. For lacto-ovo vegetarianism (the most common type of vegetarianism in the Western world), eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese are permitted. The strictest forms of vegetarianism are veganism and fruitarianism, which exclude all animal products, including dairy products as well as honey, and even some refined sugars if filtered and whitened with bone char."
Vegetarian foods can be classified into several different types:
- Traditional foods that have always been vegetarian (Cereals/grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.)
- Soy products including Tofu and Tempeh which are common protein sources.
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP), made from defatted soy flour, often included in chili and burger recipes in place of ground meat.
- Meat analogues, which mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of meat and are often used in recipes that traditionally contained meat.
- Vegans may also use analogues for eggs and dairy products.
Foods used in vegetarian cuisine
"Food usually regarded as suitable for all types of the vegetarian cuisine usually include:
Honey is consumed by vegetarians, some vegans however do not include it into their diet .
- Cereals/grains: maize, hempseed, corn, wheat, rice, barley, sorghum, millet, oats, rye, triticale, buckwheat, fonio, quinoa; derived products such as flour (dough, bread, pasta, baked goods).
- Vegetables (fresh or pickled) and mushrooms (though some strict Indian vegetarians do not eat mushrooms); derived products such as vegetable fats and oils
- Legumes: beans (including soybeans and soy products such as tempeh, tofu, soy milk, and TVP), chickpeas, peas, lentils, peanuts)
- Other foods such as seaweed (however seaweed is considered inedible by some strict vegetarians for the same reason it can be considered as non-kosher by some: the possibility that various tiny animals may be found adhering to it.
Food suitable for several types of the vegetarian cuisine:
- Dairy products (milk, butter, cheese (except for cheese containing rennet of animal origin), yogurt (excluding yogurt made with gelatin), etc) — not eaten by vegans and pure ovo-vegetarians
- Eggs — not eaten by vegans and pure lacto-vegetarians
- Honey — not eaten by some vegans
Cuisine that is traditionally vegetarian
"These are some of the most common dishes that vegetarians in the Western world eat without substitution of ingredients. Such dishes include, from breakfasts to dinnertime desserts:"
- Gujarati cuisine from state of Gujarat in western India is predominantly vegetarian.
- Many bean, pasta, potato, rice, and bulgur/cous cous dishes, stews, soups and stir fries.
- Cereals and oatmeals, granola bars, etc
- Fresh fruit and most salads
- Potato salad, baba ganoush, pita-wraps or burrito-wraps, vegetable pilafs, baked potatoes or fried potato-skins with various toppings, corn on the cob, smoothies
- Many sandwiches, such as cheese on toast, and cold sandwiches including roasted eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, cheeses, avocado and other sandwich ingredients
- Many side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, some bread stuffings, seasoned rice, and macaroni and cheese.
- Classical Buddhist cuisine in Asia served at temples and restaurants with a green sign indicating vegetarian food only near temples
- Indian cuisine in Asia is replete with vegetarian dishes, many of which can be traced to religious traditions (such as Hindu Brahmins). Gujarati cuisine of India is predominantly vegetarian among other Indian cuisines and Gujarati thali is very famous among Indians. There are many vegetarian Indian foods such as pakora, samosa, khichris, Pulao, raitas, rasam, bengain bharta, chana masala, some kormas, sambars, jalfrezis, saag aloo, subjis (vegetable dishes) such as bindi subji, gobi subji, Punjabi chole, aloo matar and much South Indian food such as dosas, idlis and vadas. Chapati and other wheat/maida based breads like Naan, Roti Parathas are often stuffed with vegetarian items to make it a satisfying meal. Many Indian dishes also qualify as vegan, though many others also use honey or dairy.
- South Indian foods like sambar, rasam, koottu, karembadu, upma, palya, kozhambu, Aviyal, Olan, Kadala curry, Theeyal, Pulingari, Chammandi, Chutney, and breads like Appam, Puttu, pathiri, dosai, idli and vadai.
- Spanish foods such as tumbet and many polentas and tapas dishes
- Mexican foods such as salsa & guacamole with chips, rice & bean burritos (without lard in the refried beans or chicken fat in the rice), many quesadillas, bean tacos, some chilaquiles and bean-pies, chili sin carne, black beans with rice, chiles rellenos, cheese enchiladas and vegetable fajitas.
- Italian foods such as most pastas, many pizzas, eggplant rotini, eggplant crostini, bruschetta, many risottos
- Continental cuisine such as ratatouille, braised leeks with olives and parsley, many quiches, sauteed Swiss chard, vegetable-stuffed mushrooms, sauteed Brussels sprouts with mushrooms and squash
- In Germany, Frankfurt Green sauce, different Klöße with vegetarian sauces (e.g. Chanterelle), combinations of Quark (cheese), spinach, potatoes and different herbs provide some traditional vegetarian summer dishes. Traditionally on fridays, southern Germany broad variety of sweet dishes may be served as a main course, so Germknödel and Dampfnudel. Potato soup and plum cake is a traditional Friday course in the Palatinate.
- Many Balkan dishes, such as dolmas and spanakopita
- Russian cuisine developed a significant vegetarian tradition in czarist time, based on the example of Leo Tolstoy. The orthodox tradition of separating meat and vegetables and as well between specific meals for Fasting and other holidays contributed to a rich variety of vegetarian dishes in Russia and Slavic countries, such as soups (vegetable borscht, shchi, okroshka), pirogi, blini, vareniki, kasha, buckwheat, fermented and pickled vegetables, etc.
- Mideastern food such as falafel (fried chick pea flour), hummus (mashed chick peas), tahini (ground sesame seeds), minted-yogurts, and couscous.
- Egyptian cuisine in particular is rich in vegetarian foods. For reasons ranging from economics to the religious practices of the Coptic Orthodox Church, most Egyptian dishes rely on beans and vegetables: the national dishes, kushari and ful medames, are entirely vegetarian, as are usually the assorted vegetable casseroles that characterize the typical Egyptian meal.
- Chinese (and other far-Eastern) dishes based on the main ingredients being mushroom, noodles, eggplant, string beans, broccoli, rice, tofu and/or mixed vegetables
- Japanese foods such as tempura, edamame, name kojiru, and vegetable sushi; in Japan however, vegetarian often means no meat, which however includes fish. Miso soup is made from fermented white or red soy bean paste and water, garnished with scallions and/or seaweed.
- Some Thai cuisine, including dishes such as pad kee maow and many Thai curries.
- Creole and Southern foods such as hush puppies, okra patties, rice and beans, or sauteed kale or collards, if not cooked with the traditional pork fat or meat stock.
- Some Welsh recipes, including Glamorgan sausages, Laverbread and Welsh rarebit.
- Indonesian, including tempeh orek, tempeh bacem, tofu bacem
Desserts and sweets
"Most desserts, including pies, cobblers, cakes, brownies, cookies, truffles, Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter treats (from gelatin-free marshmallows, or marshmallow fluff), pudding, rice pudding, ice cream, creme brulée, etc., are free of meat and fish and thus are suitable for ovo-lacto vegetarians. Oriental confectionery and desserts, such as halva, 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."
Cuisine that uses meat analogues
"These are vegetarian versions of popular dishes that non-vegetarians enjoy and are frequently consumed as fast food, comfort food, transition food for new vegetarians, or a way to show non-vegetarians that they can be vegetarians while still enjoying their favorite foods. Many vegetarians just enjoy these dishes as part of a varied diet."
Some popular mock-meat dishes include:
- Veggie burgers (burgers usually made from grains, TVP, seitan (wheat gluten), tempeh, and/or mushrooms)
- Veggie dogs (usually made from TVP)
- Imitation sausage (soysage, various types of 'salami', 'bologna', 'pepperoni', et al., made of some form of soy)
- Mockmeat or 'meatyballs' (usually made from TVP)
- Vegetarian or meatless 'chicken' (usually made from seitan, tofu or TVP)
- Jambalaya (with mock sausage and mock chicken, usually made from TVP, seitan, or tempeh)
- Tomato Omelette where tomatoes and a paste of flour is used to produce a vegetable omelette without the use of eggs.
- Scrambled eggs where tofu is mashed and fried with spices (often including tumeric, for its strong yellow color) to produce a dish that is often nearly indistinguishable from eggs.
- In baking eggs are easily replaced by ground flax seeds, applesauce, mashed bananas, or commercial egg replacer
"Note that choa tofu and tempeh are components in certain cuisines in their own right, and do not necessarily take the place of meat."