agar: clear, colorless form of seaweed used as a thickener in recipes. Vegan substitute for gelatin.
agave nectar: a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index that is made from the wild agave plant; an excellent substitute for honey.
analog: a meat substitute made from vegetable protein (usually soy). Most analog products provide more protein than meat with fewer calories and no cholesterol.
basmati: variety of extremely fragrant rice often used in Indian cooking.
calcium: a mineral essential for healthy bones and teeth. Vegan foods containing calcium include collard greens and edamame.
cannellini: white Italian kidney bean.
casein: the major protein in milk. Many soy cheeses contain casein, which may be problematic to those with dairy sensitivities. Always read labels.
couscous: a tiny pasta made from semolina flour. Couscous is the national dish of Morocco.
edamame: young, green soybeans. You can find them frozen or fresh. Many people know edamame as a tasty appetizer (dunk them in soy sauce…but don’t eat the pods!). You can also add them to soups, salads, and stir-fry dishes.
fiber: complex carbohydrates. Many vegan foods are high in fiber, including apples, artichokes, beans, and pears.
flexitarian: a part-time vegetarian.
folic acid: essential form of vitamin B that helps form red blood cells. Vegan foods containing folic acid include asparagus, beans, broccoli, edamame, lettuce, peas, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
fruitarian: fruitarians only consume plant foods that can be harvested without harming the plant (examples: peaches, tree nuts, etc.).
gelatin: food product obtained by boiling animal bones and sinew. The vegan substitute is agar.
iron: necessary for transporting oxygen in the blood and maintaining a healthy immune system. Vegan foods containing iron include black-eye peas, bulgur wheat, edamame, garbanzo beans, leafy vegetables, lentils, parsley, spinach, and tofu.
kombu: edible kelp; often added to Japanese soups and broths. Usually sold in dry sheets that can be used to wrap rice.
lacto-vegetarian: a vegetarian who also consumes dairy products.
lacto-ovo-vegetarian: a vegetarian who also consumes eggs and dairy products.
mirin: Japanese rice wine; adds sweetness to Asian dishes.
miso: Japanese food staple; a thick paste made from fermented soybeans. Besides using it to make delicious soups, you can also use it to jazz up salad dressings and marinades. Look for miso in the refrigerated section of natural foods stores and Asian groceries. Dark misos will taste stronger than the lighter varieties.
nutritional yeast: edible brewer’s yeast in flake form; has a cheesy flavor that works well in sauces and soups.
organic: produced without the use of synthetic chemicals. For more information, check out the excellent 10 Reasons to Buy Organic overview from the Organic Consumers Association.
ovo-vegetarian: a vegetarian who also eats eggs.
potassium: regulates fluid retention and assists with kidney function. Vegan foods containing potassium include bananas and potatoes.
protein: an important cell component. Vegan foods containing protein include bulgur wheat, edamame, quinoa, and tofu.
quinoa: slightly crunchy small grain of South American origin. It’s similar to millet and gluten-free. Quinoa can be used in salads, soups, and chilis and can also be ground into flour.
raw vegan: vegan who only consumes foods not heated above 115 degrees F, believing that foods lose nutrients when heated.
rennet: product made from rennin, the enzyme secreted by the lining of a calf’s stomach. Rennet is used in the cheese-making process.
seitan: meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Alternet published a great article on the pros and cons of this wheat “meat.”
su vegetarianism: some Buddhists practice su vegetarianism, in which consuming vegetables of the onion genus as well as meat are avoided. Soul Curry magazine published an interesting article describing varying views on vegetarianism among Buddhists.
tahini: paste made from sesame seeds frequently used in Middle Eastern cooking. Look for it in your natural foods store in the nut butter section.
tempeh: fermented product made from soybeans, water, rice or another grain, and a fermenting agent. Tempeh has a mild, nutty flavor and can be used in sandwiches, stir-frys, casseroles, chilis, and stews. It’s a great source of fiber. Look for tempeh in the refrigerated section of natural foods stores and Asian groceries.
textured vegetable protein (TVP): a meat substitute made from defatted soybeans that is often found in prepared vegetarian foods (also look for it in the bulk section of your natural foods store). TVP’s texture is similar to ground beef, so it’s a natural for tacos, casseroles, and stews.
tofu: extremely versatile food made from soybean curds (the process is similar to the one used to make cottage cheese from cows’ milk). Tofu, which is available in silken, soft, firm, and extra firm varieties, is an excellent protein source. Silken tofu can replace eggs and dairy products in many recipes.
vegan: a vegetarian who only consumes plant-based foods (and no foods of animal origin such as eggs and dairy products).
veganize: to modify a recipe by substituting plant-based foods for meat and dairy ingredients.
vitamin A: essential for vision, immune function, and skin and heart health. Vegan foods containing vitamin A include apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collard greens, kale, mango, papaya, parsley, peas, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, and winter squash.
vitamin C: an antioxidant. Vegan foods containing vitamin C include bell peppers, blackberries, grapefruit, guava, lemons, limes, mangos, oranges, papaya, parsley, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes.
vitamin E: an antioxidant. Vegan foods containing vitamin E include bell pepper and papaya.
vitamin K: required for blood coagulation. Vegan foods containing vitamin K include avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kiwis, parsley, spinach, and swiss chard.
whey: liquid by-product of the cheese-making process; an ingredient in crackers, cakes, and processed foods.
yuba: tofu skin; also known as beancurd sheet. This Asian food product, which has a history dating back centuries, can be used to make meat analogs as well as flavor salads and stir-frys. For more info, see bento.com’s article on making yuba. Look for it in Asian markets.