Boost Your Veggie Vocab

As you attempt to incorporate more plants and plant-based foods into your diet, you may come across some unfamiliar words, and this curiosity to eat more plants may have been spurred by the June/July story “Lettuce Celebrate Plants.” Whether you’re boosting your veg intake because of health, animal welfare, environmental concerns, religious practices or other reasons, the more informed you are, you’ll have an easier time understanding the though processes behind these dietary changes. You’ll also be a better advocate—to yourself and to the plant-forward movement.

From antioxidants to zoodles, it’s time to boost your veggie vocabulary! These are just a few of the terms that you may come across as you shop, research and dive face first into the plant-forward style of eating.

Antioxidants: Compounds found within foods that act as the body’s best defense against free radicals

Aquafaba: The starchy liquid of from a can of chickpeas that can be used as an egg replacer/stabilizer in meringues, baked goods and other vegan foods

Artisanal: Small-batch food or drink made by traditional (no machines) methods

B12: Animal-derived products are the only reliable dietary source of this nutrient, unless otherwise fortified; vegans and vegetarians run the risk of being deficient

BPA: Bisphenol A is a chemical used to stop food from coming in direct contact with metal and has been linked to health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and asthma

Carbon Footprint: The amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that is released into the atmosphere by human activity

Carob: A entirely plant-based, caffeine-free substitute for chocolate that is sourced from dried, roasted and ground carob tree pods

Casein: A milk protein that can sometimes be found in non-dairy products like soy creamers, soy cheese and soy milk

  • Note: Vegans do not consume casein

Choline: A nutrient found in foods like eggs, poultry, potatoes and broccoli, this is a nutrient that aids the brain and nervous system

Cruciferous Vegetables: A diverse group of vegetables part of an informal classification of the mustard family, that are rich in vitamins and minerals

Examples: Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, radish and more

CSA: Community supported agriculture in which a person purchases a share from a local farm and receives a shipment of fresh, local produce periodically

Ethical: The consideration of moral consequences of food choices

Fair Trade: Producers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their work by the companies based in developing countries

Food Waste: Food that is left discarded or uneaten and can occur at all stages of the food cycle

Free Radical: Unstable molecules that can damage cells within the body

Green Living: An all-encompassing lifestyle that promoting taking environmental matters seriously and preserving the planet

Legumes: The fruit or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae

  • Examples: Peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, peanuts

Non-GMO: Genetically modified organisms are made within a laboratory setting using genetic engineering techniques. Scientists and consumer and environmental groups have cited both health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs.

Organic: Food produced to the highest of standards without the use of chemicals, pesticides or other artificial chemicals

Plant Milk: A milk-like product that can be made from soybeans, nuts, seeds, grains or coconut

Plant Based: Describes the kinds of ingredients needed to make a meal and puts emphasis on non-animal products

Plant Forward: A cooking and eating philosophy that celebrates plant-based foods and puts less emphasis on meat

Probiotics: Live bacteria cultures that come from unpasteurized fermented foods

  • Examples: Kefir, sauerkraut, miso, yogurt

Rennet: An enzyme from the stomach of calves that is added to cheese

Seitan: Also known as “wheat meat,” this wheat gluten mimics the chewy texture of meat

Super Foods: Certain foods thought to be good for one’s health, however there is no official definition and can be subjective

Sustainable Food: The promotion of change within the food system based upon the pillars of health, social, economic and environmental factors

Tempeh: A meat replacement made from pulverized and compressed soybeans

Tofu: A replacement for meat, eggs and dairy made from curdle soy milk and compressed into blocks

Tuber: Different from root vegetables, these are a kind of enlarged storage organ on root plants

  • Examples: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

Whole Foods: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and other foods that are unprocessed and unrefined

Zero-Waste: A no-waste lifestyle that encourages the reuse, repurposing and recycling of products and food

Zoodles: Using a machine called a spiralizer, these are finely sliced zucchini ribbons that resemble 


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