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A Vegetarian VisionA Vegetarian Vision

May 1, 1999

28 Min Read
A Vegetarian Vision

Food Product Design

A Vegetarian Vision
May 1999 -- Cover Story

By: Lisa Kobs
Contributing Editor

  Everyone's heard of Albert Einstein's theories on relativity, but how many people know of his views on being a vegetarian? - "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."  Growing numbers of people are following Einstein's "theory of vegetivity," yet an important question still remains - what does a vegetarian eat? "Anything but meat" is the obvious answer, but when considering all of the different philosophies that become intertwined with vegetarian dietary choices, the answer becomes less apparent.People might choose not to eat meat for religious, health, ethical, environmental reasons and more. These categories can then be further subdivided into groups who may choose foods that are all-natural, organic, kosher, or ingredient- or allergen-controlled. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those whose only real concern is that their food is meat-free.  Look through the expanding vegetarian-cookbook section at any bookstore, and the equation appears simple - take a traditional staple such as pasta or rice, mix in a protein source such as legumes or nuts, add a few creative touches with vegetables and spices, and voila! However, as every food manufacturer knows, bringing a product to the commercial level is a whole different story. So the real question becomes: How do you develop a manufacturable product that meets the needs of all these people - and sells at a profit? Unfortunately, there is no one answer. Luckily for the creative developer, however, there are lots of great resources and plenty of good advice available.Attuning to vegetarian needs  The idea that vegetarians eat nothing but platefuls of carrots for dinner is a misconception. The meatless diet does not divide the dinner plate into the separate categories of the typical American diet (a meat centerpiece surrounded by starch and vegetables). Rather, the vegetarian plate is filled with a variety of dishes with ingredients in combinations.  Creativity is paramount in a world that is accustomed to putting meat into every main dish. The key to satisfying vegetarian cuisine is familiar association; i.e., figuring out how regular meals are made, and then making logical substitutions for the meat. For example, lasagna with an Italian-sausage analog, a tofu-ricotta filling blend and an old-world-style sauce would appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Equally interesting dishes might include a potato-and-onion-loaded clam chowder in a creamy broth, flavored with dulse sea vegetables (edible red algae); tempeh rubbed with jerk seasoning and heated on the grill; mashed-potato enchiladas; grain-and-nut stuffed bell peppers; or spaghetti with meat-analog meatballs.  When selecting ingredients for vegetarian entrees, it helps to understand the nutritional needs of those who will be eating the products. Good advice for vegetarians (and meat-eaters, too) is to eat a wide variety of different foods, as no one food is nutritionally complete by itself.  Meat contains important nutrients and a considerable amount of protein, so a healthful vegetarian diet requires foods that adequately replace these elements. Many vegetarian ingredients lack essential amino acids, and need to be combined with other foods that supply these nutrients. However, contrary to what was once believed, many authorities (including the American Dietetic Association) feel that these foods do not have to be eaten together to get their full protein value, and that deliberate combining is unnecessary.   Because meat provides approximately one-fifth of the iron in a standard diet, and because zinc is not absorbed as well from plant foods, it's crucial for vegetarians to get enough of these minerals. Adequate vitamin D levels and proper vitamin B12 intake can also be an issue in the vegan diet, but deficiencies are very uncommon with proper dietary choices. Ultimately, it's up to the vegetarian consumer to choose a balanced diet, but manufacturers also have a responsibility to provide foods that simplify proper nutrition.Leguminous possibilities  Vegetarians often rely on legumes to provide bulk, versatility and nutritional content. Legumes are the edible seeds and pods of certain plants, including soybeans, beans, lentils, peas and peanuts. They are high in protein, high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, low in fat, low in sodium, and contain many vitamins and minerals. They lack the sulfur-containing amino acids needed for protein synthesis, so pairing them with complementary amino-acid sources such as dairy products, seeds, nuts or grain-based foods creates a complete amino-acid profile.  Legumes can be used whole, chopped or pureed, or can be ground into flour. They are delicious when eaten hot, cold, on their own or in a blend. Their bland flavor makes them a perfect carrier for herbs and spices. Low cost make legumes a staple in many countries - the variety of ethnic foods using them is extensive. Additionally, Americanized cuisine can easily use legumes to replace meat. For example, a casserole of chopped beans and textured vegetable protein blended with a tofu-based sauce and sautéed vegetables, and topped with shredded cheese, is about as vegetarian American as it gets.  Raw legumes are usually cooked to increase digestibility and increase palatability. Cooking time depends upon the bean's size, hybrid variety, age, and hardness or softness of cooking water.  Bean varieties include black, pinto, kidney, pink, butter, red, cannellini or white, lima and mung beans. Pea varieties include chickpeas, black-eyed peas or cow peas, pigeon peas and sugar snap peas. Lentils can be found in white, pink, yellow or brown varieties.  Most beans, except for lentils and very small beans, require long periods of soaking and boiling. More processing-friendly varieties have been adapted for industrial uses, such as IQF beans, which are remarkably similar to the freshly cooked product. The convenience of these products, however, may be offset by higher ingredient and storage costs.  Canned beans can often be substituted for fresh beans, but their starchy liquid may not work in all products, and they are often softer than the frozen product. Also, on the manufacturing floor, opening the can is often time-consuming, and inconsistent draining can lead to quality issues.  Raw, dried beans can be cooked, but this is often time-consuming, including the period spent pre-sorting to pick out debris. Dried legumes will hydrate during the retort process and equilibrate during storage. Quick-cooking, pregelatinized, dehydrated beans have proven valuable in the dry-mix market when used in instant meals and soups. Ground bean flour increases protein content when added to pasta dough or baked products.Soy story  Soybeans, with 38% protein, are nutritionally equivalent in protein value to animal proteins. (For more information on protein values, see "Protein Possibilities," in the October 1997 issue of Food Product Design.) Soy protein contains all essential amino acids, is easily digested and can be used as a sole protein source.   Fresh vegetable soybeans are harvested while they are still green and sweet. They can be eaten raw, boiled or roasted. Fermented cooked whole soybeans, called natto, have a sticky, viscous coating with a cheesy texture. In Asia, they are typically served over rice, with vegetables and in soups. Fermentation breaks down the beans' complex proteins, improving their digestibility.  Dried soybeans can be treated like any other legume; once cooked they can be used for dishes such as high-protein baked beans. Soy nuts are made from whole, roasted, water-soaked soybeans that have been baked until brown. Similar in texture to peanuts, they can be used in snack mixes. Ground soynut butter is similar to peanut butter, but with less fat. Soy grits, made by toasting and cracking soybeans into small pieces, are high in protein and can be added to grain-based side dishes, or toasted and used as nuts in baked goods. Soy fiber, a byproduct of soybean processing, while high in fiber, does not provide protein. Soy milk is made from soaked, ground and strained soybeans, and can be substituted for cow's milk.   Tofu, or bean curd, is a cheese-like food made from soybeans. Fresh soy milk is curdled with either calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride, the curds are pressed into cakes, and the liquid is expelled. The amount of liquid removed determines the consistency and texture of the finished tofu.  Extra-firm tofu is very concentrated, and has the highest protein content of all tofu styles. It can be sliced, diced and crumbled, and used in a variety of cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming, sautéing, pan frying and deep frying. It can also be marinated, seasoned and dried into jerky. Firm tofu is similar to extra-firm, but with a lighter, softer consistency. It can be used in many of the same applications as extra-firm. Soft tofu will not hold up in a formed shape, and is often used in sauces, soups and salad dressings. Silken tofu has a smooth, delicate custard-like texture, and is used in soups, desserts and beverages.   Processed tofu can be found in a variety of flavors. Tofu is a fresh product that is stored in water. Freezing it will darken the color and make the texture firm and meaty. Freeze-dried tofu is available but must be soaked to rehydrate.  Concentrated soybean protein comes in the form of soy flour, concentrates and isolates. Grinding roasted soybeans into a fine powder results in soy flour, with 50% protein. Three types of soy flour are available - natural (full-fat), lecithinated and defatted, which has the highest protein concentration of all three varieties. Soy flour is high in oligosaccharides, the soluble carbohydrates responsible for soy's beany flavor. Soy flour can be added to baked goods to increase protein levels, but because it lacks gluten, breads made with 100% soy flour are very dense. Often soy flour replaces 1/4 to 1/3 of the wheat flour.  Soy concentrates consist of approximately 70% protein, with a high level of fiber. An extrusion process forms firm, fibrous texturized concentrates with a texture much like that of meat. These are used in meat analogs, and retain less flavor than traditional concentrates because of the extrusion process. Untextured, functional soy protein concentrates provide a smooth mouthfeel in applications that are high in water or fat, such as emulsions, and can be combined with textured concentrates to provide a different mouthfeel. Soy concentrates take up and retain water, and although all ground soy proteins absorb fat to some degree, concentrates hold it throughout multiple cooks.  Soy isolates are 90% protein and can be made into beverages and meat analogs. They have good emulsification properties, although they are ion-sensitive and can break down rapidly in the presence of salt. They are also pH-sensitive, and will denature in too-acidic of an environment. In meat analog products, they can become rubbery during freeze/thaw cycles or excessive heating.Non-dairy dairy  Soy milk can replace milk, but may still retain some beany characteristics. Other milk replacements are being manufactured from rice, nuts, potatoes and hemp seed. Non-dairy milks can be low-fat, sweetened and flavored. Manufacturers often fortify soy and rice milks and sell them as aseptically packaged fluids, although they are also available in dehydrated forms. Other feasible non-dairy products made from these "milks" include Cheddar, Monterey Jack and American cheese slices; flavored cheese blocks; grated Parmesan cheese; sour cream; and cream cheese.  Cheese-making often utilizes animal-derived enzymes. So, while a cheese enchilada might look like a safe choice for a lacto-vegetarian, in reality it might not be a truly vegetarian food. Vegetarian cheese must use non-animal sources for enzymes, such as microbially fermented coagulants, to replace rennet.  Many non-dairy cheeses contain casein, so even though the FDA considers them non-dairy, vegans shun them because casein is an animal by-product. A true vegan cheese would form its gel structure with plant hydrocolloids, and would not use flavors containing butyric, caprylic, capric or lauric fatty acids derived from dairy fat. Vegan cheeses are said to shred and melt like their dairy counterparts, but according to Terry Mayo, vice president of the vegetarian frozen entree manufacturer Cedarlane Natural Foods, Los Angeles, CA, "Soy cheeses without casein do not have the melting characteristics or flavor of those with casein and are often found to be less acceptable." A few vegan products on the market use them, but vegan cheeses generally do not have the elasticity of traditional cheeses such as mozzarella.Nuts to seeds  Nutritional quality, rich flavor and crunchy texture make nuts a common vegetarian ingredient. Nuts are good sources of protein, although only a partially complete source, as they generally lack sufficient levels of the essential amino acid tryptophan. They contain fairly high levels of monounsaturated fats, and are good sources of nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamin E.   Commercially important varieties include almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias, pine nuts, chestnuts, black walnuts, cashews and Brazil nuts. Nuts are found in many forms, including sliced, diced, slivered, flaked, meal and paste. Dry- or oil-roasting enhances and increases flavor intensity, and crisps the texture.  Nuts are found in burger and loaf applications, and their use is, in theory, only limited by the creativity of the product designer, although realistic formulation limitations do occur. Nuts have limited shelf life because high levels of unsaturated fats subject them to oxidative rancidity.  The more processing, either by shelling, cutting or grinding, and the higher the storage temperatures, the greater the risk of rancidity. When combining nuts with other ingredients, moisture and oil migration become a concern. Moisture gain in nuts will deteriorate texture, speed oxidation and promote microbial spoilage. Oil migration can cause problems within a food matrix, such as fat bloom, or textural and viscosity changes.  A variety of other seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, poppy, flax and hemp also find their way into vegetarian foods for their nutritional content, texture and visual appeal. Seeds are eaten whole, either toasted or untoasted, or can be ground into a paste. Tahini, or ground sesame seed, is used for its nutty flavor in dips and salad dressings. Currently on the market is a veggie burger made entirely from hemp seed. It is produced in the same manner as tempeh, and then is marinated for flavor.Using your noodle  Pasta is no longer just spaghetti made from durum semolina flour. Special pastas fit into the diets of those with food allergies, those who have an interest in increased nutrition, or who enjoy the variety of creative shapes and value-added flavors. Today pasta is commonly flavored with vegetables such as spinach, peppers, tomatoes, or carrots, and is often preseasoned with garlic, onion, herbs, spices and other flavorings.  Non-wheat pastas, typically consumed by those with wheat allergies, add interesting flavors and textures to pasta dishes. Varieties made with corn, kamut, amaranth, potato, buckwheat, quinoa, mung-bean and brown-rice flours are all available. For novelty without straying too far, wheat flour can be supplemented with these non-traditional flours. Pasta can be supplemented with soy protein isolate, important for products made from lower-protein grains, because protein is the backbone of pasta. Nontraditional ingredients may generate price issues, however. "A lot of these unique grains are very costly, and the problem is trying to meet a retail price that people are willing to pay. We tried entrees with kammut pasta, and they tasted good, but the pasta was too expensive to justify its use," says Mayo.  Another challenge is that non-wheat-based pastas are easy to over-cook, lose starch during cooking, and do not have as firm of a texture. Mixing in other kinds of ingredients will change the product's manufacturing capabilities - for example, decreased cooking tolerance and modified texture and bite. These potentially undesirable attributes may be compensated for by changing formulation ingredients, or by using alternate methods of processing and reconstitution, but they may never be eliminated entirely.Go with the grain  The most common commercially used food grains are wheat, corn, rice, barley, rye and oats. Different grains have varied processing needs and terminologies, but in general, dry-milling separates the bran (with its insoluble cellulose) and the germ (with its high fat content susceptible to rancidity) from the starchy endosperm.  Some grains are left with their edible outside layers intact, to increase nutritional content, while others might be milled; either can be reduced to sizes ranging from bits to flour. Berries, often called groats, are whole crushed kernels that have not been milled or polished. They are available in a variety of granulations. Grits are grains cracked into very small pieces, and sometimes toasted. Flakes or rolled grains are flattened pieces of the endosperm. Grains vary in cooking time based on their size and outer coating, but food product designers have access to a variety of further-processed grains that have reduced cook times.  Protein content is not constant from grain to grain, although most grains have fairly well-balanced amino acid profiles, barring one or two limiting amino acids. Grains in general, except for oats and rye, usually have low levels of lysine. Wheat is the only grain that has gluten proteins that provide the elastic structure required in bread, although rye is able to form a weak dough. Combinations of wheat and other grains make perfectly acceptable breads. Batters made without wheat can use xanthan gum to provide body that would otherwise come from gluten.  Grains are typically 60% to 75% starch, either in the form of amylose or amylopectin. The ratio of these starches, along with the size and shape of starch granules, is responsible for each grain's gelatinization properties, which may effect functionality in processed foods.  It's important to match the grain source to the end product. For example, rice is available in many varieties, with a wide range of functionalities. Rice varieties include long-, medium- and short-grain; brown; waxy; aromatic; and arborio. It is commercially available in uncooked, precooked, IQF, quick-cooking, and instantized varieties. Long-grain rice cooks up to have separate, smooth, fluffy grains, and would be great for a frozen entree. Cooked short-grain rice gels have higher levels of amylopectin, making this type the best choice for a veggie patty application due to increased stickiness.Meat the analogs  Technology is becoming quite accomplished at creating realistic analogs that equal their meat counterparts in terms of flavor, texture and most importantly, satiety. There are analogs of hamburger, both in patties and ground form; sliced lunch meats; sausages; hot dogs; Canadian bacon; pepperoni; bacon bits; and even of whole, stuffed turkey. Vegetarian "meat" is not meat, points out Ron McDermitt, vice president of research technology with Worthington Foods, Worthington, OH. "It does not have to be cooked, only warmed, and is not like using raw meat because the binding systems are completely different. In a meat system like raw hamburger, you can make a salisbury steak with just the meat because the meat proteins will bind together upon cooking. Meat analogs do not have the same myosin-type meat system, so you cannot take raw soy protein, hydrate it, and expect it to bind during heating. Because of this, you have to build the product differently and remember that it will act differently in prepared foods."  Texture and flavor are the two biggest challenges in developing a meat analog. McDermitt suggests a combined approach. First, decide on a target; then, select the right ingredients and ingredient systems that will yield the best texture; and finally, use the correct processing technologies.  A combined technology that goes beyond color and flavor allows species-specific meat analogs to be developed. There is a difference in muscle structure between chicken and ham, and using the proper ingredients in an analog mimics that texture. "With a hamburger analog, you need a granular texture, where each of the individual pieces has a certain mouthfeel or chew, and the product breaks apart in the mouth like ground beef does," says McDermitt. "In this application, soy and wheat proteins will provide this texture and experience. A chicken nugget is a totally different target in texture and would require a different protein system. By using a wet-extrusion process to spin soy-protein fibers, you get the long fibers needed to mimic chicken muscle. A hot dog is an emulsified meat, and has a much finer texture, which requires a different technology again."  Analogs often require a combination of different protein sources for mouthfeel and functionality, and the ingredient choices are varied. According to Gerry Amantea, vice president of technical services for the meat-alternatives manufacturer Yves Veggie Cuisine, Delta, BC, "Soy isolate, with its water-binding capabilities and gel strength, will provide different characteristics than wheat protein or tofu. It is important to understand the characteristics and functionalities that each individual protein has, and then also understand the additional interactions that may occur between these different proteins when they are combined. Though an ingredient may have a certain characteristic by itself, when you mix it with other ingredients, it may take on a completely different characteristic or functioning effect."  Linda Beck, senior scientist with Central Soya, Fort Wayne, IN, emphasizes that the process of putting the ingredients together is an important step that determines the end result. "When putting together a meat analog, the first thing that needs to be understood is how you combine the various ingredients such as TSPC (textured soy protein concentrate) as well as other binders such as gums, wheat gluten, etc. The order in which you add these ingredients together will create different textures, and there really is no one answer in how you should put a meat analog together."  One of the more common techniques is blending all of the dry ingredients together, hydrating with water, blending again, forming, prebaking if necessary and, finally, freezing. Another procedure is to blend all of the binders together, add the water, and finally the seasonings. This texture will be different from the mix procedure previously described.  "The type of fat used will contribute a different mouthfeel," says Beck. "When adding fat to a meat analog mixture, it is important that the TSPC is hydrated with the water first. Fats, especially liquid fats, will coat dry TSPC, and it will not want to hydrate properly. Partially hydrogenated fat can be in a flaked form, so that when the consumer heats the product, the fat will melt similarly to beef fat and have the visual effect of frying just like a meat product."  Soy protein in the form of TSPC and FSPC (functional soy protein concentrate) is commonly used as a base ingredient in meat analogs. TSPC is produced by thermoplastic extrusion of soy protein concentrate, with a final structure that provides excellent hydration and fat absorption, and leads to the desired textural properties. FSPC is processed by subjecting the concentrate to a heat and shear process and then spray-drying so that in the finished meat analog it functions to improve moisture retention, fat absorption, and emulsification properties. According to Steve Campano, group manager, protein technical support at Central Soya, "Textured soy protein concentrates have an inherent meat-like texture when hydrated. The three-dimensional particulate structure of TSPC is very stable during the processing, cooking and reconstitution of a vegetarian product. Extruded soy proteins are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors to meet the need of most any meat analog. Functional soy protein concentrate powders enhance texture through moisture and fat control. They also provide viscosity to the meat analog mixtures, facilitating machineability during the forming and transferring processes before cooking."  Textured wheat protein concentrate and powdered concentrates are also readily available sources of protein that make excellent meat analogs. Midwest Grain Products, Atchison, KS, offers a wheat gluten product processed by extrusion technology that provides a porous cellular structure and tissue-like striations. When hydrated, it has a soft, meat-like structure and a very low flavor profile. Powdered, spray-dried wheat gluten is also used in analogs, functioning as a binder for other protein sources, such as TSPC and tofu, and improving texture and firmness.   A binding system is essential when working with meat analogs. Besides cohesion, binders also play a key role in retaining moisture and fat, which lends mouthfeel and juiciness. Binders have different water-holding capacities, which impact the finished product accordingly. Water is especially important in the reduced-fat and fat-free products, as it is typically used in place of fat to provide lubricity and juiciness.  Food starches and gums are commonly used alone or in combination as binders, and have a significant impact on finished texture and mouthfeel. Where a firmer texture is required, kappa carrageenan is used. The iota form of carrageenan, which produces a slightly elastic gel, is used in products that are less firm.  Soy and wheat proteins, in the form of concentrates and isolates, along with rice protein, also function as excellent binders. Egg white, though an excellent binder, cannot be used in vegan applications. Other ingredients that may be added particularly for their binding capabilities include mashed legumes, cheese, tofu, malt syrup, ground nut pastes and vegetables.  Other additives in analogs include flavoring systems, coloring agents and, possibly, particulates. Some manufacturers require maximum reality and try to mimic everything possible found in meat. Tougher soy bits that mimic cartilage can be added for a more realistic chew, or konjac can be combined with starch to create a gel that can then be chopped into particles resembling fat.Send in the substitutes  "When I look at a vegetarian product, such as a meat analog, I look at two categories," explains Beck. "You have the meat analog for the meat eater, who for nutritional purposes realize they need to eat less meat, but they want the form, convenience and flavor of meat. Then there are the rice-, oat-, grain- and vegetable-based analogs, which just happen to be in the form of a patty. This segment of the market may not eat meat, and may not want a meat-style substitute. If your product looks like meat, tastes like meat and pretends to be meat, they may not want it."  A whole category of foods is available, such as tofu, tempeh and seitan, that are considered meat substitutes, yet do not really try to mimic meat as authentically as do the analogs.  Tempeh is a chunky, tender soybean cake with a mild nutty flavor and distinctive chewy texture that can be used as a meat substitute. It is made out of fermented soybean paste made with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus. The mold forms a mycelium that holds the soy together and is responsible for tempeh's black specks.  When whole-wheat flour and water are kneaded, the dough rinsed to remove the carbohydrate fraction, and the gluten that remains is boiled in water, the resulting dough is called kofu. Kofu can be further processed in many ways. One product, called seitan, is wheat-gluten dough simmered in a stock of tamari soy sauce, water and kombu sea vegetables. It is brown in color, usually comes in strips 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, and has a texture more continuous than a ground patty. Tofu, tempeh and seitan can all be marinated in a variety of flavors and then baked to be used in entrees; fried and made into sandwiches; simmered in stews; or heated on the grill.  Blends typically referred to as veggie burgers contain anything and everything from vegetables, tofu and cheeses to grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. They are available in both vegetarian and vegan forms, and can be seasoned with familiar flavor blends such as Italian or Mexican. One example, a loaf product called Field Roast, is made by the Field Roast Grain Meat Company of Seattle, WA. The product's main ingredient is wheat gluten blended with grains, vegetables and legumes that is simmered in a flavored broth. It can be used much like traditional meats - thinly sliced for sandwiches, for example, or julienne-cut for salads and pasta dishes, sliced for stir fry or minced for ground-meat-style dishes. These products are an excellent alternative for the vegetarian who dislikes meat's flavor and texture.  Peter Klepchick, executive chef, Celentano Foods, Verona, NJ, recently developed 10 new vegan-style frozen entrees to add to the company's vegetarian line. Celentano started out making frozen Italian foods with no additives, chemicals, preservatives or artificial ingredients, and has added both organic vegetarian and organic vegan entrees as well. The vegetarian lines focuses on pasta and cheese with lots of vegetables, while the vegan line reproduces classic Italian favorites using tofu and vegan cheese. Their products do not use meat analogs, or try to mimic meat in any way. Not trying to be all things to all people, they have created a line of products that fits their targeted criteria and satisfies their customers.  There are certainly many issues to consider when designing vegetarian foods, including the functionality challenges of substituting for animal-derived ingredients and the effective use of non-meat and -dairy flavoring ingredients. As with almost any creative process, the possibilities are virtually endless. In the case of vegetarian foods, tapping the ever-growing market for these products is the reward for successfully anticipating and fulfilling the needs of those subscribing to the "theory of vegetivity." Vegetarian GlossaryVegetarian VarietiesVegan: does not eat any animal flesh or animal product such as eggs and dairy. Some vegans will not eat honey and yeast products.Ovo-lacto vegetarian: does not eat any animal flesh but will include animal products such as eggs and dairy.Ovo vegetarian: will eat eggs, but not animal flesh or dairy foods.Lacto vegetarian: will eat dairy products, but not animal flesh or eggs.Pesco-vegetarian or pescetarian: will eat fish, dairy products, and eggs, but not animal flesh.Semi-vegetarian: eats less meat than the average person. Fruitarian: eats only fruit such as berries, mango, banana and melon; and vegetable fruits such as tomato, cucumber and olives. These fruits do not kill the actual plant (i.e. a carrot would not be accepted).Vegetarian Food TermsNon-dairy: does not contain enough milk fat to be called dairy, but may contain dairy ingredients.Non-meat: made without meat. May include eggs, milk, cheese. Sometimes includes animal fats, seafood and poultry.  As the glossary shows, the term vegetarian is an ambiguous term. It is difficult for the potential vegetarian-food manufacturer to define this market, because there are so many categories.  According to Ron McDermitt, vice president of research technology with the meat-analog manufacturer Worthington Foods, Worthington, OH, "The strict vegetarian market is very small, but there are a large number of people interested in vegetarian foods. The true vegetarian market can be hard to define as is related by these statistics. One resource group says that 1% to 2% of the population are strict vegetarians, meaning that they eat no meat ever, and that one half of these vegetarians are vegans. Other research states that 7% of the population, when asked whether or not they are vegetarian, claim to have a vegetarian diet. This group, however, includes those who consider themselves vegetarians most of the time but may eat fish occasionally, or have turkey on Thanksgiving. Another source cites that 26% of the population is vegetarian-aware, so while they are not necessarily vegetarians, they are cutting back on meat and looking for vegetarian foods at restaurants or in retail shopping. Forty percent of the population is cutting back on red meat consumption, and switching to poultry and fish as an alternative, and may have a desire for an occasional vegetarian meal." The GraineryAmaranth: a high-protein, tiny, mustard-colored seed with a nutty and pepperish flavor. Must be toasted before using.Barley: nutty-flavored grain with slightly chewy texture. Available hulled, pearled and as grits and flakes. Buckwheat: triangular, greenish-pink granules with a strong flavor and high protein content. Available whole, cracked and as flour or grits.Bulgur: processed whole-wheat kernels that have been hulled, steamed, dried and then cracked. Chewy texture found in coarse, medium and fine granulations. Fast-cooking grain used in pilafs, casseroles, salads and soups. Corn or Maize: a yellow, white, red or blue kernel that is dried and cracked or ground.Kamut: ancient variety of wheat. A rice-like kernel available as berries, flour, grits or pasta. Kasha: strongly flavored, roasted kernels of unhulled, cracked buckwheat. Available whole and in various granulations. Millet: a tiny, round, pale yellow to reddish orange seed in the grass family. Must be cracked to hydrate properly. Sautéing in oil until cracking begins speeds the simmering process. Available whole, cracked, flaked and ground. Oats: available as groats that cook with simmering in 45 minutes. A variety of flaked sizes including rolled, quick cooking and instantized.Quinoa: a high-protein ancient grain. Small, ivory colored, flat-oval granules that cook quickly in water. Available as whole seed and flour. Rice: cultivated in long, medium and short grains. Available whole, instantized, and as grits, meal and flour.Rye: related to wheat but with less gluten. Rye berries are unhulled rye kernels that add a chewy texture. Found also in flakes, grits and flour.Spelt: a flavorful, non-hybrid relative of wheat. Available as berries and flour.Triticale: a hybrid of wheat and rye available as berries, flakes and flour.Wheat Berries: one of the oldest cultivated grains. Available as berries, bulgur, cracked, grits, flakes and flour.Wild Rice: not truly rice, but an American aquatic grass. Purplish-black oblong grains have a nutty flavor. Takes up to 50 minutes to cook in simmering water. Commercially available in IQF varieties for frozen or refrigerated entrees, side dishes and soups, shorter-cooking and quick-cooking varieties for use in dried side-dish or soup mixes.   Lisa Kobs, M.S., a vegetarian for over 15 years, is a Minneapolis-based food scientist focusing on new-product development.Back to top

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