Mastering Vegan and Vegatarian Cuisine

THE CHEFS CHALLENGE
MASTERING VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN CUISINE

To master vegetarian Cuisine the culinary professional must first understand the different categories of vegetarian cuisine, special ingredients used and how to prepare them into a vegan recipe.  There are four categories of Vegetarian Cuisine with vegan being the strictest form.  The ANF is focused on vegan cuisine because to master vegetarian cuisine one must masters the strictest form which is vegan.

What is a vegetarian? When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians who refrain from the flesh of animals, fish and poultry but do eat eggs and dairy products.  They are called lacto-ovo vegetarians (“lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg). This is the most common type of vegetarianism.

Lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products. Many Hindu vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs for religious reasons while continuing to eat dairy.

Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs. Some people are ovo-vegetarians because they are lactose-intolerant.  India generally reverts from use of eggs as they believe the egg has life and are therefore taking life if they consume the egg.  That is probably true if the egg is fertilized.  If not, I question that position.  Conversely, drinking milk in the US, in my opinion, created the veal industry.  The cows must must constantly having calves to create milk and the calves have to be eliminated, hence the veal industry.  The simple solution is going vegan.

Vegans do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin. Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet.

Types of Vegans: there are four different types of vegans.  Understanding their different dietary preferences is crucial to successfully servicing them in a restaurant.

  1. Activist vegans such as PETA who want humans to consume meat analogues in place of meat.  Their focus is to wean humanity off meat as a means of enhancing animal welfare
  2. Esoteric vegans who will not consume any vegan meat analogue or protein that looks and taste like meat.  Their position is that if they want to eat something like meat, they would consume meat.  They are pleased if served tofu, tempeh, seitan or beans as a protein option.
  3. Raw Food Vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body.
  4. Ethnic Vegetarians India, while not a totally vegetarian country has a very high percentage of vegetarians.  Those on a vegetarian diet are primarily lacto vegetarians.  Many third world countries practice vegetarianism as their primary diet.
  5. Religious Valued Vegetarians who practice vegetarianism as part of their spiritual belief
  6. Macrobiotic Vegan follows the vegan version of the macrobiotic diet.  The diet is revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish for non vegans following the diet. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.  The diet uses a ample amounts of miso, whole grains and sea vegetables.  They avoid the use of microwaves and spices.

Health Conscious Consumers or Part time vegetarians: who are not vegetarian but choose to dine vegetarian cuisine as part of a healthy diet.  They are sometimes called Flexitarians are vegetarians who occasionally consume meat.  They are omnivores who primarily consume meat but consume vegetarianism several times a week (or more) as part of a healthy diet.  They are discerning consumers who will not sacrifice taste for nutrition.  Whether they are primarily vegetarian consuming meat part time, or primarily meat consumers dining on vegetarian cuisine part time, they are about 35% of the US market and very discerning consumers who want to experience great tasting center plate protein innovation.

Pescatarian:  The word “pescatarian” is occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet.

The American Natural Foods focuses on vegan vegetarian cuisine because it is the most difficult version of the cuisine to prepare.  It is the one professional cooks struggle with the most in serving their guest.  Mastery of it is the mastery of the cuisine and will give the professional cook a commanding knowledge to write menus and prepare every category of vegetarian cuisine.

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