What a vegetarian can eat depends on what type of vegetarian they are. The main types are listed below. There are some people who call themselves vegetarians even though they eat fish, so it is worth checking.
If vegetarians do eat eggs, it is usually only free-range eggs. If you know that the eggs you are serving are free range, it will be helpful to indicate this on your menu
Those that eat cheese will often only eat vegetarian cheese, because typically cheese uses animal product during its production; however more and more cheeses, especially those made in Scotland, now use a vegetarian alternative. If you are sure the cheese you are serving was made using vegetarian rennet, it will be helpful to indicate this on your menu.
Octo-Lacto Vegetarian (The most popular definition, also known as Ovo-Lacto)
These people do not eat red meat, poultry, fish, or any products that have ingredients which are animal-based, such as gelatine. They do eat eggs, milk, yoghurt, vegetarian cheese, honey etc.
Lactose-vegetarians do not eat any foods that involve the slaughter of animals. They don’t eat eggs, but do eat vegetarian cheese, yoghurt and milk.
Demi-vegetarians don’t eat red meat or poultry, but they do eat fish, eggs, vegetarian cheese, and milk-based products.
Vegans do not eat red meat, poultry, fish, or any products that have ingredients which are animal-based and they also will not eat any product that is derived from animals, i.e. cheese, butter, milk, cream, yoghurt, eggs, honey, whey, gelatine (vegetable gelatine is available and will be labelled as such), honey, isinglass (a fish product used to refine many wines and beers).
A Fruitarian is somebody who believes that you should not kill any living thing to survive. Instead, they can only eat the fruit of plants that don’t actually mean death to the plant. Their diet consists of only fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
The macrobiotic diet consists of mostly whole grains and beans, although it does include the eating of fish.
Care should be taken when preparing a meal for a vegetarian, because many find that exposure to even small amounts of animal ingredients can cause physical discomfort which can range from a slight stomach upset to headaches to vomiting and diarrhoea. To be on the safe side, if you have used utensils for animal ingredients, either wash them or use separate utensils for making food for your customer, and never grill veggie burgers right next to meat.
Catering for Vegetarians
Most vegetarians will be happy to work with you to devise a menu that you can fit into your busy schedule and that meets their dietary requirements. Simple food, well-prepared with good quality ingredients will always be appreciated.
There are some products that can be used as replacements for egg and dairy products:
As a binder, substitute for each egg:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft tofu blended with the liquid ingredients of the recipe, or
1 small banana, mashed, or
1/4 cup applesauce, or
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
The following substitutions can be made for dairy products:
Soy milk, rice milk, potato milk, nut milk, or water (in some recipes) may be used.
Buttermilk can be replaced with soured soy or rice milk. For each Cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup soymilk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
Crumbled tofu can be substituted for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese in lasagne and similar dishes.
Several brands of non-dairy cream cheese are available in some supermarkets and kosher stores.