Our vegan A to Z covers just about everything you could possibly want to know about veganism in bite-size chunks. If you aren’t sure of a term or phrase and want a really quick answer on something, this is the place to come. It also serves as a guide to the rest of the site, with links towards pages and articles containing more detailed information on virtually every vegan-related subject.
If you think we’ve missed something that should be included, let us know, whether it is something vegan you know and love or something you were hoping to look up.
- Agave Nectar
- Almond Milk
- Bean Curd
- Bone Char
- Bone Meal
- Breakfast Cereal
- Calcium Carbonate
- Cashew Milk
- Chewing Gum
- Chia Seeds
- Companion Animals
- Dietary Vegan
- Energy Drinks
- E Numbers
- Fortified Foods
- Gram Flour
- Lacto Vegetarian
- Levels of Veganism
- Nut Milk
- Nutritional Yeast
- Oak Milk
- Omega-6 & Omega-9
- Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian
- Ovo Vegetarian
- Palm Oil
- Raw Veganism
- Rice Milk
- Soy Milk
- Spirits (Vodka, Gin, etc)
- Stearic Acid
- Textured Vegetable Protein
- Vegan Animal Food
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Agar-agar, or just agar, is a vegan substitute for gelatine and is made from red algae. It can help make mousses, custards, jellies and a range of other dishes. It is 80% fibre and is used in different ways in a range of global cuisines.
Agave nectar, syrup, or just agave, is a natural sweetener that can be used instead of honey. Extracted from the agave plant, it offers more nutrients than some vegan-friendly sugar alternatives.
Almond milk is one of a number of great vegan milk substitutes that is basically made by soaking nuts in water.
Aquafaba is the name given to the water in which legumes, usually chickpeas, have been cooked. The proteins and other soluble elements from the beans create a viscous liquid that acts as a magical substitute for egg whites. Vegan-friendly mayo, meringues, sauces and batters… here we come!
Is beer vegan? is a very commonly asked question because, quite simply, beer is great. Many modern craft beers are vegan but lots of mass produced products are not, using animal products such as isinglass (see below) to clarify the end product. Note that some beers, especially stouts, may use dairy, whilst other flavoured beers may use a range of animal-derived ingredients.
Bone char is the reason that some processed sugar might not be vegan, with the charred bones of animals used to draw impurities out of sugar to make it whiter. This process is less widespread now than it used to be, with most major UK sugar brands stating they do not use bone char during production.
Bone meal is a rather unpleasant sounding mix of animal parts. Ground bones and other waste products from slaughter houses are added to create an organic fertiliser. Organic yes, vegan no (see organic below).
Read our full is bread vegan? feature for the lowdown, but in short, there are many reasons why bread might not be vegan. Some enriched doughs include butter or eggs; bacon and other animal products may be added for flavour; whilst L-cysteine (see below) might be added, along with other strange animal derivatives that can find their way into food.
There are plenty of breakfast cereals that are vegan, and plenty that are not. With some, such as those that include honey, it is obvious what the non-vegan ingredient is, whilst others may include non-vegan vitamin D3 (see lanolin) or casein that is harder to spot.
Raw cacao is the base ingredient of chocolate and in its raw form it is packed with unprocessed goodness and flavonoids. It is great to use in healthy vegan deserts and features in lots of raw vegan recipes.
Calcium is one of the key minerals that vegans are sometimes concerned about. However, they need not be as there are lots of vegan sources of calcium (some fortified), including bread, greens, vegan milks and some nuts and seeds.
Is calcium carbonate vegan? Well, sometimes ‘yes’ and sometimes ‘no’, rather unhelpfully, depending on whether or not it has been made from animal products. It occurs naturally in rocks but can be made from animal shells. It features in a number of foods and products, often being used to fortify foods with calcium, but it is not always easy to tell whether or not it comes from a vegan source.
Pronounced “Cay-seen”, from the Latin word for cheese, this is a protein usually made from (animal) milk. One for vegans to look out for on ingredients lists, casein may be found in a wide range of foods including ice cream, pasta, pastries, protein powders, bread and cereals, as well as household goods, such as paints and glues.
A nut milk made by soaking cashew nuts in water that can be used instead of dairy milks.
A chegan is a cheating vegan, which is to say someone who is largely a vegan but who uses, shall we say, liberal interpretations of the rules and is more than happy to suspend those rules from time to time. A hypothetical exchange from the Urban Dictionary goes thus:
Person 2: “Well my wife made dinner tonight, though she puts cheese on everything.”
Person 1: “Oh no! My friend is a Vegan!”
Chegan: “Oh no! It’s ok, I’m a Chegan, and I’m starving!”
Once again, we have a full article on whether chewing gum is vegan or not and once again the short answer is that some is and some isn’t. Gelatine, carmine, glycerol, lecithin and stearic acid are among the non-vegan additives to look out for. All have separate entries in our A-Z vegan glossary.
Chia seeds are native to North America and are highly nutritious, offering high levels of fibre, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals. They are also great in vegan deserts and as a good vegan substitute for eggs in some dishes.
Chitin is often made from the shells of insects and crustaceans and is a food additive used to thicken and stabilise certain foods, with a range of other uses being explored, including clarifying fruit juices and other drinks.
If you ever ask the question is chocolate vegan? fear not, there is a lot of great vegan chocolate around. Milk is the main thing that might render chocolate not vegan but certain other additives, as well as cream and butter, are also potential hazards.
Some ciders use animal parts in the filtration process and these are not vegan. However, there are loads of great vegan ciders available if that’s your tipple of choice.
The cochineal is a small insect that should be on the vegan watch list of animals that might find their way into your food. Any unnaturally bright red food or cosmetic may be using cochineal dye, potentially listed in ingredients as carmine, cochineal extract or E120.
Coffee is typically vegan but there are things to look out for, chiefly the milk in espresso-based drinks, such as a latte or flat white.
The issue of companion animals is a thorny one within the vegan community. In general, the consensus tends to be that keeping rescue animals is acceptable and is the most compassionate way to deal with a difficult problem. Check out our Do Vegans Keep Pets? article for the lowdown.
Learn more about vegan condoms, lubricants & sex toys in our dedicated article, but in short, many are not vegan. Some condoms use various animal products, as do lubes, whilst leather, silk and some animal derivatives in plastics are to be avoided by vegans purchasing toys and garments.
Dairy is the generic term for animal milks and things made from them. All dairy products are non-vegan.
A dietary vegan is someone who follows a plant-based diet but is not vegan in other areas of their life, for example their clothes, cosmetics or regular visits to the zoo! A dietary vegan is typically motivated by health concerns rather than the ethical associations with veganism.
Edamame beans are young soybeans (see soy below), harvested before they have fully ripened. They are a great source of vegan protein, fibre and other nutrients.
Eggs are not vegan, being, in essence, the periods of birds. However, there are some great vegan egg substitutes that can be used to replace eggs in a wide range of recipes.
There are lots of vegan energy drinks on offer with most of the major brands being vegan friendly. Bright red drinks may contain carmine from cochineal insects (see above) and there may be some concern over the vegan status of the sugar used but by and large energy drinks are fine. Assuming you don’t mind the stonking sugar levels, strange additives and high doses of caffeine that is.
E numbers are codes for legal food additives that may be used for flavour, colour and preservation among other things. Many are vegan but lots and lots are non-vegan too. Examples of animal-derived E numbers (or ones that may include animal derivatives) are E120/cochineal (see above), E322/lecithin (see below) and E422/glycerol (see below). Many, including lecithin and glycerol can be made from animals or plants so unless stated check with the manufacturer.
Metrosexual was the American Dialect Society’s “Word of the Year” in 2003. Interestingly, their “Most Creative” award that year went to “freegan”. But their Most Useful word was flexitarian. It didn’t make the full dictionary until 2012 but a flexitarian is essentially an omnivore that eats a largely plant-based diet. Nothing is excluded but meat and animal products are very rarely eaten. With no set definition as to how much meat can be eaten it is, fittingly, a flexible diet to follow.
Some vegans and would-be vegans wonder is flour vegan? By and large, the answer is yes, although as is so often the case there are some minor caveats. In the past, L-cysteine (see below) was a relatively common additive to bread, although these days it is almost unheard of. Another concern that is unfounded nowadays concerns bone char, but as far as we know this isn’t used, with other (vegan-friendly) substances utilised to bleach and whiten the flour instead.
Some foods, such as bread, are fortified by law to improve their nutrient content. Producers fortify many foods though, with vegan milks often having calcium and certain vitamins added. Cereals, fruit juices and oils are among other commonly fortified foods. Vegans should be wary because such additions can make ostensibly vegan items non-vegan, as in the case of vitamin D3 from lanolin (see below).
In reality, there are very few fruitarians but these vegans follow a highly restricted vegan diet. They believe, at the strictest end of the philosophy, in only eating what has naturally fallen from a tree or plant. The concept is based on the idea that we should also avoid killing or “hurting” plants. At the less severe end of the fruitarian lifestyle, adherents only eat fruits, nuts and seeds, at least most of the time.
Gelatine is used in a range of foods primarily as a setting or gelling agent, although it has various other uses, notably in medicine and cosmetics. It is derived from animal collagen and is usually made from the skin, hide, bones, hooves and by-products of pigs, cows and fish.
Ghee is clarified butter and is commonly used in Indian cooking. It is dairy and therefore non-vegan.
Glycerol, also known as glycerine, is predominantly used in food as a sweetener, although it is also used in liquids for e-cigarettes, in pharmaceuticals and in antifreeze. Tasty! Confusingly, it can be made from plant (usually soy or palm), animal (from tallow) and synthetic sources, meaning its presence on a food’s ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean the item isn’t vegan friendly.
Gram flour is vegan, being made from chickpeas. It is great as a vegan egg substitute, is high in protein and is suitable for gluten-intolerant vegans too.
Great news for fans of the Black Stuff, all Guinness is now vegan! In the past, this iconic Irish brew used animal products in the fining process that meant it wasn’t vegan. However, over the past few years Guinness has changed the way they work and they now use mechanical filtration and other vegan-friendly methods to filter their stout. This now applies to all variants of Guinness beer, on tap, in bottles or in cans! Sláinte!
Hemp products are vegan powerhouses, with hemp seed offering a range of nutrients and hemp milk a non-dairy vegan alternative suitable for hot drinks, cereal and most other instances one might use “normal” milk.
Honey isn’t vegan even though it isn’t directly made from an animal. This is because it isn’t possible to produce honey without exploiting and potentially harming bees. Honey is made by bees to feed bees.
Here we are talking about natural bees’ honeycomb, not the inside bit of a Crunchie chocolate bar made with sugar and baking soda! Unsurprisingly, just like honey itself, honeycomb isn’t vegan. Honeycomb is touted by some for its health benefits but is built by bees to house their larvae and store their honey. It belongs to the bees. It isn’t vegan.
There are sources of vegan iodine but most omnivores get their iodine quota from fish, seafood and dairy products. Some vegans take iodine supplements, although seaweed and sea vegetables can be good sources. The danger with some forms of sea plants is that they can actually have too much iodine.
Similarly to iodine, there are lots of vegan ways to get iron into your diet, although non-vegans tend to get most of their iron from meat and other animal products. Quinoa is a great vegan source of iron, as are other grains, legumes and greens, whilst many products are also fortified with iron. Note that vitamin C can boost absorption but that tannins (mainly in tea) can limit it.
Isinglass is the name given to a product made from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is commonly used to fine (filter) beer, wine and cider to produce a clear end product. Drinks that use isinglass are not vegan.
Fancy a vegan BBQ? Make jackfruit the star of the show, with this relative of the fig increasingly used as a vegan meat substitute in a range of dishes, including pulled jackfruit burgers.
Kombu is a form of kelp (a type of brown seaweed) that can lend a savoury, umami flavour to a range of dishes. It can be very high in iodine so should be eaten sparingly.
A lacto vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish, seafood or eggs but does consume dairy. Essentially a vegetarian who consumes milk and other dairy products.
Lanolin is the grease from the wool of sheep and is sometimes used to make vitamin D. Vitamin D is often used to fortify everyday products, such as cereal or fruit juice, but it renders such foods non-vegan. If an ingredient is listed as Vitamin D3, as opposed to Vitamin D2, it is likely to have been made from lanolin.
Lard is an animal fat, made from pigs. It is very high in saturated fat and is used in lots of baked goods, as well as other savoury foods.
In times gone by L-Cysteine was quite a common addition to flour used to make bread. Produced from duck feathers, pig hair or other animal sources, this was yet another thing for vegans to look out for. Thankfully, its use in flour is now illegal in many countries and is very rare.
Lecithin is a common food additive with a wide range of applications that is used in an even wider range of foods. It is a fat and can be made from eggs, soy or other sources. Unless the ingredients specifically state that the lecithin is soy it may well be made from eggs and is therefore not vegan.
Levels of Veganism
There are no fixed, defined levels of veganism but some people have sought to create such a system, perhaps stemming from the concept of being a level five vegan. The idea of level five veganism is largely used jokingly and stems from an episode of The Simpsons. It refers to someone who follows the strictest of strict vegan principles and in practice is not really possible (see medicine).
Are medicines vegan? Ultimately, medicines are not vegan if you apply the strictest standards because all have to be tested on animals before being licensed in the UK. Others are “less vegan” because they use animal parts or derivatives as ingredients or in the production process.
Ultimately, however, most vegans do use medical and pharmaceutical products and our personal opinion is that one should not risk their health by ignoring medical advice. Always seek the advice of medical professionals in relation to any such health decisions.
Miso is a fermented soy product that has many great vegan applications, most famously miso soup. Check out our brilliant Vegan Tahini & Miso Spread recipe too, though!
Dairy milk isn’t vegan, meaning that milk from cows, goats, camels, sheep, buffalo or indeed any other animal, isn’t suitable for vegans. Obviously, this also means that cream, ice cream, butter, cheese and anything else made from milk is non-vegan. The dairy industry causes a lot of suffering to animals and there are numerous excellent non-dairy vegan milks.
Natto is another fermented soy product (see miso) and is highly nutritious, offering a great hit of protein, iron, vitamin K, fibre and manganese. It is very pungent, so can be used as a vegan cheese substitute for those that like their cheese strong, stinky and cow friendly!
Some noodles are vegan and some are not, with egg the most likely non-vegan ingredient. Usually egg noodles are clearly marked as such but, if in doubt, check with the retailer or producer.
Nori is a type of seaweed and is highly nutritious, acting as a good, safe source of iodine and vitamin B12. It can be used in a range of ways but in the UK you are most likely to eat it as a sushi wrapping.
Nut milk is a generic name to vegan-friendly milk made by soaking nuts in water. Common varieties include almond, cashew, Brazil and macadamia, whilst milks made from seeds and grains such as quinoa, flax and hemp may also be called nut milks.
Nutritional yeast is deactivated, meaning it cannot be used for fermentation. It is instead, as the name suggests, often used for its many nutritional benefits, being a great source of fibre and protein (it is a complete protein and so contains all nine essential amino acids).
It also contains various B vitamins plus a small amount of iron, though some brands are fortified and contain more. Its savoury, nutty, umami flavour makes it a great vegan product and it can be used to make, among other things, a great vegan parmesan substitute.
Another good stand-in for dairy milk, oat milk is made by soaking oats in water.
Vegan omega-3 can be hard to get in sufficient quantities, with oily fish the best source, especially of two types of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid. A-linolenic acid (ALA), is plentiful in lots of vegan foods, including many seeds, but this is generally considered to be less beneficial.
Omega-6 and Omega-9
As well as the more often talked about omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, whilst omega-9 acids exist but are not essential. Many people believe that the ratio of these fatty acids that we consume is important. It is argued that we now eat far too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, although at present there is not enough research into this to offer significant conclusions. Right now, there is no strong evidence that any particular ratio of these acids is better for health than another.
Some people assume that organic is the same as vegan but this really is not the case. Some organic foods are vegan and some are not, whilst some non-organic foods are plant-based whilst others, of course, are not. Organic can sometimes be better for animals, for example, because pesticides aren’t used or because animals may be treated better (whilst still being exploited and ultimately killed). It is also often better for the environment for similar reasons.
However, because organic food doesn’t use chemicals, it must use natural fertilisers and some of these contain animal blood, bones and other non-vegan ingredients (see bone meal above). Depending on your vegan ethics, this may render some organic veg non-vegan. Veganics (see below) is one potential solution to this issue.
Ostrovegans follow a standard vegan diet but include oysters, mussels and other bivalves on the basis that these animals cannot feel pain or experience suffering. It is argued that they are more akin to plants but whilst the jury is out on the exact science, most vegans do not believe eating these animals is acceptable. Not least because collecting them can affect other water-based species and have environmental consequences.
An ovo vegetarian eats the same as a “normal” vegetarian but also eats eggs.
Palm oil is technically vegan, being plant-based, and indeed it is classed as such by the Vegan Society. However, palm oil is unhealthy and its production is wrought with ethical dilemmas, so many vegans (and non-vegans) choose to avoid it.
Like noodles, some pasta is vegan and some is not. Also in common with noodles, egg is often the culprit crashing the vegan pasta party. That said, squid ink, cheese, milk and butter might all feature in the dough and that’s before we even get to the sauces!
Sadly for fans of pies, pasties, profiteroles and puffs, most traditional pastry is not vegan, using butter, eggs, milk, cream, lard or suet. That said, vegan versions of most types of pastry are possible, with oil or other vegan fats used. Filo pastry is usually vegan and great scrunched up for a healthy pie topping.
A pescetarian is a vegetarian who also includes fish and seafood in their diets, only excluding the meat of other animals.
Pesto is not vegan because traditional recipes for pesto alla Genovese use parmesan cheese or another hard, salty (dairy) cheese. Vegan substitutes are possible, such as vegan parmesan, or you can simply omit the cheese and use a little more salt.
See Companion Animals.
Popcorn consumption is growing, with people realising this tasty snack is a healthy wholegrain that offers more fibre than alternatives, such as crisps. Unless popped in butter or non-vegan oils, or non-vegan ingredients are added, popcorn is vegan friendly.
Potassium is vital for a healthy heart and fluid regulation within the body. Whilst fish, seafood, beef and poultry are high in this nutrient, so too are bananas, nuts and seeds, pulses and some veg. Potatoes are also a great source for vegans to enjoy so let the cows be cows and the fish be fish!
The issue of vegan protein gets far too much attention. Quite simply, almost everyone in the developed world gets more than enough protein, whilst other potentially more important nutrients, such as fibre, get little coverage in the media or wellness blogs. Nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses are all great sources of vegan protein. If you want a protein blast on the go or an extra boost then there are also great vegan protein powders and protein bars available.
Though it has been around since 1985, there a still a lot of people who ask the question, what is Quorn? In short, it is a meat substitute that is made primarily from “mycoprotein”, itself derived from a variety of fungus known as “Fusarium venenatum”. One of a number of off-the-shelf vegan sources of protein, Quorn’s vegan-friendly products include meat-free versions of sausages, burgers, pies, fishless fillets, nuggets and more.
Raw vegans combine “rawism” and veganism, following a vegan diet that is also largely or entirely raw and unprocessed. Some processing techniques, such as dehydrating are allowed, whilst “cooking” at temperatures less than around 48 degrees Celsius is also, rather usually, permitted.
Rennet shouldn’t really be of too much concern to vegans as its only real use is in the making of non-vegan cheese to help curdle the dairy milk. Another animal nasty, however, it is made from mucous found inside a calf’s stomach and is certainly something for vegetarians to avoid.
A form of non-dairy, vegan-friendly milk, made by soaking rice, usually brown, in water before blending and straining.
Seitan is another excellent vegan meat stand-in and is low in calories and fat, high in protein and also offers decent levels of minerals including iron and calcium. Unsuitable for those who are gluten intolerant, it makes a brilliant doner kebab!
Selenium is easy for vegans to obtain, with Brazil nuts packing a mega does of this essential mineral. Other nuts and seeds, as well as some fruits and breads, are also good vegan sources.
Shellac is a resin that finds its way into many household products, such as polish and sealant, but is also used as a wax for fruits, such as lemons and apples (E number E904), and also to coat pharmaceutical tablets. It is not vegan, being derived from an insect secretion.
Our main feature on soy, soy milk and other vegan soy products goes into great detail on this superb plant. This versatile legume can be used in a plethora of ways but almost always yields an end product that is high in fibre, protein and micronutrients.
Soy milk is yet another dairy alternative (seriously, why are people still torturing cows for milk?) and is made by soaking, grinding, boiling and filtering soybeans.
Spirits (Vodka, Gin, etc.)
Most spirits are vegan, meaning vegan shots needn’t just be super-healthy and green! Most spirits are distilled rather than filtered, meaning there is no need for animal parts, such as isinglass (see above), to be used in the production process. As usual, there are some caveats, but usually when items such as milk, cream or honey are added, this is obvious.
Stearic acid is a saturated fat used in soaps, cosmetics and lubricants but is also a common food additive (E570). It is abundant in cocoa butter but is more commonly found in animals and its name comes from the Greek for tallow. Ascertaining whether the stearic acid in a given food is vegan or not is frequently difficult.
Animal fat used in pastries, frying and some savoury foods, usually made from the hard fat of cows or sheep.
By and large, sugar is vegan but some refined sugar, both white and brown, may have used bone char (see above) in the processing to remove impurities. Much sugar in the UK is definitely vegan but being sure if the sugar in processed foods has come into contact with bone char is rather trickier.
There are a range of excellent vegan supplements & multivitamins for those who feel they may be lacking in a particular nutrient. Done well, there are many health reasons to go vegan and so supplements may not be needed. That said, certain micronutrients, such as vitamin D, iodine and zinc may be harder for some people to obtain, whilst those with specific dietary needs may want to consume vegan protein supplements.
Similar to suet but may be made from pigs too and has a longer shelf life. This means it has various non-food applications, including candles, soap and even bank notes.
Most, if not all taurine used these days is synthetic and therefore vegan. Most major energy drinks are vegan friendly and, despite rumours, taurine is not obtained from any of a bull’s bodily fluids!
Tempeh is a cooked and fermented soybean product that has its origins in Indonesia. It comes in a variety of guises and can be used in a range of dishes but in short it is a good vegan meat substitute that is high in protein, fibre and other nutrients.
Textured Vegetable Protein
Textured vegetable protein, or TVP, is sometimes called textured soy protein (TSP) but either way it is yet another great alternative to meat for vegans. It is a processed product made from a by-product of soy oil production and was first created in the 1960s. The product now is better than it was then and can be consumed in various forms, all of which are high in vegan protein.
Tofu is a vegan staple and yet another product made out of our favourite wonder bean, soy. Made from soy milk it is basically soy “cheese”, produced by coagulating the milk. How the curds are processed alters the end product, with tofu available in different forms. The firmer ones are great in to use in a stir fry, whilst silken tofu can be used to make a great vegan chocolate mousse.
Vaccines are one of the great medical success stories and have saved millions of lives. Are Our Are Vaccines Vegan? feature goes into more detail about whether or not vegans should use vaccines (short answer: yes, unless you want to die). Whilst vaccines don’t meet the standards of “Level 5” vegans (see above), ultimately, they do a lot more good than harm.
Vegan Animal Food
Some vegans feed their companion animals (pets) a vegan diet and there are a range of good vegan pet foods available. See our main feature on Vegan Pet Food for more information.
The portmanteau veganics might not be the prettiest word in the world but this combination of vegan and organic is well worth being aware of. If you want to grow 100% vegan fruit and vegetables, using vegan-friendly fertiliser and pest control is the way to do it and veganics can show you how.
Someone describing themselves as “vegan-ish” is basically a vegan but may eat animal products from time to time for a variety of reasons. Convenience, politeness, drunkenness or a lapse of willpower are just some of the reasons for a vegan-ish person to temporarily turn to the dark side. (Also see Chegan and Flexitarian).
Veganuary is a portmanteau combining vegan and January and has been around since 2014, encouraging people to try being vegan for the month of January. The timing after the excess of Christmas is great, with people looking to make a fresh start, and the numbers of people officially signing up to Veganuary continue to grow each year.
Those new to a meat-free dietary world can sometimes be unsure of the differences between veganism and vegetarianism. Whilst vegans don’t eat any meat, eggs, dairy or animal derivatives and also abstain from animal products in all walks of life, vegetarians simply do not eat meat from animals. Some would call this ovo-lacto vegetarianism, with this diet also excluding fish and seafood (see Pescetarian).
A “veggan” is not a vegan who can’t spell, it is someone who is almost vegan, but still eats eggs. So, really, not a vegan at all, even when those eggs are from free-range chickens. A more accurate term might be Ovo Vegetarian.
Vitamin A is vital to the functioning of the immune system and to maintain good vision and healthy skin. Dairy, eggs and oily fish are good sources but vegans can obtain vitamin A thanks to their body’s ability to turn carotenoids into it. Many orange vegetables, including carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins are good sources, as are various greens and some fruits.
Vitamin B12 is one of the harder nutrients to obtain through a vegan diet. Used to help the body use the energy in food and also to make red blood cells, vitamin B12 is abundant in meat, dairy and some fish. Vegans can either take supplements or, better than that, add a little yeast, nori or fortified foods, such as some milks and cereals, to their diets.
Thanks to our ailing memories, we refer to vitamin D as vitamin daylight because for most people the sun is by far the best source of this essential vitamin. The body needs vitamin D in order to maintain healthy bones by properly metabolising calcium and phosphorus.
The best way for vegans to get their intake is from the sun but this isn’t always easy in the UK, especially for those who have dark skin, don’t go out much or who generally cover their skin outside. Supplements may be wise in autumn and winter but vitamin D is often used to fortify foods, including dairy-free milks, yoghurts and spreads, as well as cereal. Just make sure the vitamin D used is vegan (see lanolin).
Trivia alert: vitamin K is the only vitamin not named in alphabetical sequence in order of its discovery. The “Koagulationsvitamin” as it was dubbed in German due to its role in clotting (coagulating) blood, is not one most vegans need to be concerned about. Deficiency is very rare and most of the best sources, such as spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are all vegan.
Is wine vegan? Some is and some isn’t, the good news being that there are lots of great vegan wines available. Many wines, however, use animal parts or products in the filtration process and are thus not vegan friendly.
Wool isn’t vegan due to the way the sheep are treated and the fact that they are being exploited. There are lots of vegan alternatives to wool and so there is no need for the farming of sheep and the suffering that comes with it.
Yeast is vegan because it isn’t an animal, belonging instead to the fungus kingdom. Whether you consume it in bread, beer, fermented foods or anything else, it is 100% vegan.
There are some good vegan sources of zinc, with various nuts, seeds and breads all good options. Zinc is found in lots of non-vegans food too though, so some vegans can be susceptible to deficiency and those allergic to nuts and/or seeds may want to consider a vegan zinc supplement. The body uses zinc in the metabolism, to heal wounds and for various other tasks.