What being vegetarian or vegan means

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Being vegetarian means feasting on a wide range of foods: all the luscious fruits and vegetables you can think of; wonderful, comforting beans and lentils; nuts and seeds, free-range eggs and flavoursome cheeses.

It means living a life that does not involve killing fish and animals for food, so no meat, poultry or fish, and nothing that has been taken from meat, such as lard, dripping or goose fat. Animal products are often used in the process of making foods and vegetarians and vegans have to check carefully for these. For example, gelatine (made from the bones and connective tissue of animals) is used as a gelling agent in many sweets and jellies and is also used in some low-fat spreads and desserts; fish is often used in the wine-making process and rennet (from the stomachs of young calves) is used to make some cheeses.

Vegetarian versions of most cheeses are widely available, and tend to be clearly labelled. There are some cheeses, however, that are never vegetarian. These include traditional Parmesan cheese, most GruyŤre and some blue cheses: Roquefort is never vegetarian and neither is Dolcelatte. As more and more people become vegetarian, I am sure the range of suitable cheeses will continue to increase. For more details about vegetarian cheeses, click here.

For more about the advantages of being vegetarian, click here and for more about how to go vegetarian, click here, or for the answers to all those niggling questions, click here.

Veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism; like vegetarians, vegans donít eat any animals that have been killed and also avoid animal products altogether, so that means no eggs or dairy products and, usually, no honey either. For more about becoming vegan, click here.

Vegans, and an increasing number of vegetarians, also avoid wearing or using products derived from animals or that may have involved cruelty to animals: so no leather, wool or silk, or soap, beauty and household products that contain animal products or have been tested on animals. For information about cruelty-free products and foods, see Animal Free Shopper (external link).

Being vegetarian or vegan is a wonderful way to live as more and more people are discovering. You wonít miss out on any nutrients, youíll have the great satisfaction of knowing that the choice you have made will save or improve the lives of thousands of animals, help bring about a fairer distribution of Earthís valuable resources and drastically reduce your carbon footprint while you enjoy fabulous food and look and feel fantastic!
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