Non-veg passed off as Veg in Restaurants

Dining out, especially at places which serve both non-veg and veg dishes has its drawbacks for “pure vegetarians” (lacto-vegetarians) and is much worse for vegans.

It is easier to maintain our ethics today, than it was decades’ back. All one needs to do is question the vegetarian-ness of a dish before ordering it, and also be alert to possible mix-ups before consuming it. (We recommend being firm and polite.)

The same applies to food served to flyers by airlines. Even after informing dietary requirements in advance, complaints from Indian vegetarians against most international airlines have never ceased or even lessened. Airline caterers obviously need to learn what lacto-vegetarians and vegans eat and not eat, because they continue to keep on board no alternative dishes to those that contain beef, fish, chicken, pork or even eggs and milk for their flyers.

Quite often the items listed below are bought ready-made by the restaurant, and therefore any guarantees given about their vegetarian-ness are quite meaningless.

In addition, to obvious non-veg items like varkh, the following may be also turn out to be non-veg with the main culprit being eggs that are shunned by India’s “pure vegetarians”.

Caution for Lacto-Vegetarians

Bakery items such as bread, buns, rolls, croissants, biscuits, cookies, macaroons, cakes, pastries and doughnuts: Can contain eggs and even be glazed with egg or milk using a hog bristle brush. They could also contain animal fat or gelatine.

Cheeses: Animal/calf rennet is an ingredient in most foreign cheeses. Such cheeses could be used or mixed with Indian made vegetarian cheese.

Confectionery (like chocolates) and dried fruits: They are some times coated/glazed with shellac. Marshmallow, nougat, Turkish delight, truffle, toffee, etc. could contain egg, gelatine or honey.

Crystallized fruit, orange zest, and rinds like those of lemon and grapefruit, as also pineapple, cherries and apricots: They could have been candied with sugar and honey.

Curds: Some times gelatine is used to set sweet curd.

Festive sweets: Items like kalkals/shankarpalli may or may not contain eggs.

Jelly: Veg and non-veg jellies look alike when served. The non-veg one is made from gelatine.

Naan, paratha, kulcha, rumali roti: Eggs are more often than not mixed in the dough used for making naans and some times for the others. Most “pure vegetarian” restaurants buy fresh ready-made dough, but rarely admit it. Rotis and phulkas made in-house are vegan.

“Non-dairy” creamers: Used in tea and coffee, they usually contain casein which is the principle protein of milk derived by adding the enzyme rennin (from the stomach of animals) or an acid. The creamer could therefore turn out to be non-veg and not non-dairy.

Noodles: can contain eggs, especially in Chinese restaurants.

Paan: The gilouree can very well contain choona/edible lime (shell origin), varkh, musk/kasturi, pearl/moti pishti, gulkhand containing honey, etc.

Pancakes, waffles, etc.: The batter usually contains flour, eggs and milk.

Pasta – all varieties, including macaroni and spaghetti: All pasta is usually made with egg, especially foreign ones. Although some packages have the veg symbol affixed on them, egg is has been listed as an ingredient.

Petha: This sweetmeat made from firm/ash- or white-gourd requires choona/edible lime/calcium hydroxide of shell origin. (In addition fitkari/alum powder is used but its origin is non-animal.)

Salad dressings, like mayonnaise: They can contain eggs and could have been bought ready-made.

Soups, gravies and broth: These may contain stock/bouillon made from animal bones.

Soufflés, meringues, mousse, blancmange, trifle, etc.: Almost always continental puddings contain eggs and/or gelatine.

Page last updated on 30/04/20