Serving the strict vegan

Is it or Isn't It?

The following can help as you attempt to decipher if particular processed foods are suitable for vegan menus:

Agar and Guar Gum
Both are very traditional, vegan thickening agents. Agar (also known as agar-agar) is a vegetable gum obtained from seaweeds used to thicken foods. Guar gum is also a vegetable gum.

Calcium Lactate
Calcium lactate is generally fermented from corn starch or beets, and thus generally vegan.

Casein
Casein is a milk derivative. It is sometimes used to improve texture in soy and rice cheeses, yogurt and sour cream. This means that some soy and rice products may be vegetarian, but not vegan.

Cochineal (Carmine)
Some red food coloring is made from the shell of the cochineal beetle. This can be labeled as cochineal, carmine, or carminic acid. You can find cochineal in red-colored beverages, candy, salad dressing or spice blends. FD & C Red #40, the most popular red food dye, is made from coal tar derivatives and is considered vegan.

Enyzmes
Enzymes are proteins added to foods to enhance flavor or improve texture. They can be animal-, vegetable-, bacterial- or plant-based. Those used in cheese-making are often animal-derived, so a vegetarian who eats cheese may still not eat brands of cheese made with animal-based enzymes. Examples of enzymes are: lactase (animal-based), lipase (animal or plant), papain (vegetable), pectinase (fruit), protease (animal, vegetable, bacterial, or plant), rennet (animal) and trypsin (animal).

French Fries
Most commercial french fries are blanched prior to freezing. Blanching may be done in animal fat.

Gluten
Gluten is a mixture of proteins from wheat flour, and is a vegan product. It may also be called wheat gluten or seitan.

Kosher Gelatin
Kosher gelatin can be made with fish or beef bones, thus not vegetarian.

Lecithin
Lecithin is naturally found in egg yolks, dairy products and meat, and some vegetables such as soybeans, peanuts and corn. Lecithin is commonly used in foods that require emulsification or blending. Most manufacturers use soy or corn as a basis for lecithin product, so it can be considered vegan.

Mono- and Diglycerides
These are common food additives used as emulsifiers and/or preservatives. The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or pork-derived) or vegetable, or they may be synthesized in a food laboratory. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine and confections.

Natural Flavors
“Natural” does not equal “ vegetarian,” only that ingredients are derived from unprocessed products, such as vegan-allowable produce, herbs or spices or non-vegan eggs, dairy, meat or fish.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
This can be an animal-mineral or vegetable-mineral compound; check with manufacturers. This is a common food additive, used to condition dough or as an emulsifier in salad dressings. You may find stearoyl lactylate in: cheese foods (such as grated Parmesan cheese), sliced cheese, cheese-flavored crackers or snacks; or in premade dairy-based dips.

Stearic Acid
Stearic is used as a binder or flavor agent in foods. Its source may be either animal or vegetable. It is found in vegetable and animal oils, animal fats, cascarilla bark extract, and in synthetic form. It is used in butter flavoring, vanilla flavoring, chewing gum, candy and fruit waxes, and may not be vegetarian.

Whey
Whey is the liquid that remains after most of the protein and fat is removed from milk during the cheese-making process. It is vegetarian, not vegan.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

Industry News & Opinion

High school students in Dallastown Area School District in Dallastown, Pa., will soon see the addition of live prep stations in their cafeteria, as well as an area where they can access food at any time during the school day.

The district has partnered with Chartwells for the revamp, which will allow students to watch their food being prepared and also includes the addition of new menu items, says the York Dispatch .

Chartwells’ mid-Atlantic dietitian, Aliza Stern, believes these changes will be welcomed by students as they become increasingly interested in different types...

FSD Resources