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Chicken stock + vegetable soup =/= "vegetarian"?

This thread about how Aida (of "Ask Aida") made a vegetarian dish using chicken stock, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6151... , got me thinking.

What does "vegetarian" mean to you?

Not talking about Vegan, per se.

Some folks in that thread above suggest that there's no way eating chicken would constitute "vegetarian". Well, that's probably true, but is chicken STOCK really eating chicken?

That's what Aida was using for her vegetarian soup -- chicken stock, not chunks of chicken meat.

Seriously, if vegetarians can stomach things like cheese and butter, what's wrong with chicken stock (or broth)? You're really not eating chicken when consuming stock, but rather only the essence, or flavor, of the chicken.

Thoughts?

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  1. Vegetarian definitely does not include eating chicken stock, unless you have found a way to make it without killing the chicken.

    Lacto-ovo vegetarians at least the ones that are doing it for ethical reasons, still eat dairy and eggs because that does not require killing the animal.

    1. "Seriously, if vegetarians can stomach things like cheese and butter, what's wrong with chicken stock (or broth)? You're really not eating chicken when consuming stock, but rather only the essence, or flavor, of the chicken."
      ~~~~~~~
      cows (or goats, or sheep, or yaks...) may *produce* the milk used to make cheese and butter, but they're not killed in the process. that "essence, or flavor" of the chicken comes from a dead chicken that someone boiled in a pot. big difference.

      when i was a vegetarian, if i saw a vegetable/supposedly vegetarian soup on the menu, i ALWAYS asked if it was made with vegetarian broth or stock before i ordered it (or, more often, *didn't* order it because it usually turned out that it was, in fact, made with chicken or beef stock).

      19 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        "cows (or goats, or sheep, or yaks...) may *produce* the milk used to make cheese and butter, but they're not killed in the process. that "essence, or flavor" of the chicken comes from a dead chicken that someone boiled in a pot. big difference."

        Bingo.

        You've got all different type of vegetarians. Some won't eat eggs, some won't eat cheese that's made with rennet, some won't eat cheese period, and there are those who happily eat cheese and eggs. And then you've got the vegans who definitely won't eat cheese, milk and eggs as well as other items like honey. But I've never met a vegetarian (and I'm totally excluding those self-proclaimed "vegetarians" who eat chicken and seafood but no red meat) who would consume chicken stock.

        If Aida just called it just a plain vegetable soup, I wouldn't have a problem with it. There are recipes in Hazan's book for "vegetable soups" that call for meat broth. But if she did in fact call it a vegetarian soup (and I haven't seen the show so I don't know what happened), she did commit a faux-pas.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          Re: vegetarians who eat cheese with rennet

          My experience has been that once you explain what rennet is, and that a baby animal has to be killed to obtain rennet, a lot of these vegetarians will seriously reconsider eating cheese. I think a lot of people don't really understand the cheese-making process, and they are horrified when you explain rennet to them.

          And yes, chicken broth: big no-no in the vegetarian world. Although I am imagining a chicken day spa where multiple chickens are lightly scalded in tepid water to extract a touch of that chicken-y goodness, then sent along their way. Not sure that this concept would be acceptable to a vegetarian though.

          1. re: moh

            " Although I am imagining a chicken day spa where multiple chickens are lightly scalded in tepid water to extract a touch of that chicken-y goodness, then sent along their way."

            _______________________________________________________

            LOL. Maybe just a few minutes in the sauna would do the trick ...

            1. re: moh

              A a near vegetarian, I eat laid eggs and dairy but haven't been able to give up the cheese. And I do know where it comes from (geez, I even gave up Guiness because of the islinglass). But I guess I'll only go so far for the animals, the planet, and my health - but do so in moderation.

              1. re: alwayscooking

                Yeah, giving up guinness was a sad day for me.... that and the smithwicks. Debra is a sad girl now.

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Oh. No. I'm sure I'm going to regret asking this, but can someone explain the Guiness/Smithwick's issue?

                    1. re: Cebca

                      The issue is isinglass, which is a substance derived from the swim bladders of fish, mainly sturgeon and cod. It's used to speed up the clarification process during the production of Guinness, Smithwick, and many other cask-finished ales (as well as some wines). Excessive detail can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isinglass

                      A purist vegetarian won't drink them because of that.

                    2. re: alwayscooking

                      Hey Alwayscooking! There's a reason I said "seriously reconsider eating cheese". Cheese is one of my favorite foods, and if I did go vegetarian, I would certainly have great difficulty giving up cheese. I must admit, I have not yet found a rennet-free cheese that matches the glory of some of my favorite traditional cheeses.

                      We have to do what we can. The point is you have at least thought about the issues, and are trying to do what you think is right, within moderation. All good!

                    3. re: moh

                      True. I don't think that some vegetarians realize how cheese is made. I'll bet that some think the process of turning milk into cheese is similar as to making butter when it's totally different.

                      About the chicken day spa -- ha ha. Wouldn't that be an ideal situation? We get the yummy chicken broth and the chickens get a day of pampering!

                      1. re: moh

                        "My experience has been that once you explain what rennet is, and that a baby animal has to be killed to obtain rennet, a lot of these vegetarians will seriously reconsider eating cheese. I think a lot of people don't really understand the cheese-making process, and they are horrified when you explain rennet to them."
                        ~~~~~~~
                        well, vegetarians who still want to eat cheese have plenty of options that are made without rennet, or are made with vegetarian rennet substitutes...but the "good" stuff still isn't vegetarian-friendly ;)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          most traditional, old-world cheese contains rennet from the stomachs of calves, harvested after the animal is killed.

                          however a whole lot of american-made cheeses have bacterial rennet instead--even artisan cheeses, and they are often labeled "suitable for vegetarians." a good cheesemonger can point you in the right direction. if it's an important issue for you, make a special request, because often cheese shops will order cheese based on pricing, and won't duplicate types of cheese unless they realize there is a customer niche/preference for vegetarian cheese. many certified organic, nationally distributed cheeses are truly vegetarian (example organic valley). i can get a lot of excellent vegetarian versions of european cheeses, made with grass-fed cow's, goat's, and sheep's milk, here in the midwest/dairyland, but i'm not sure how these products are distributed nationally or what the demand for them is.

                          oh, and calling any product that contains chicken stock "vegetarian" has been cringe-worthy for what-- 50, 60, 70 years? there is no excuse.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            while wikipedia may not always be the best source of information, apparently more than 80% (as much as 90%) of US cheeses are made with synthetic rennet. Probably not the "finer" cheeses.

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I believe that the majority of British cheeses, such as Cotswold, Cheddars, Stilton, are now produced using rennet derived from thistles. More cheesemakers all over the EU are following this practice as well.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              There are many amazing cheeses made without animal rennet. Here's one among many sites for cheeses in general:

                              www.cheese.com

                              And those interested may want to visit:

                              http://www.vrg.org/

                              1. re: Richard 16

                                But most add back the casein to make it melt...

                            2. re: moh

                              Re: the "chicken day spa where multiple chickens are lightly scalded in tepid water to extract a touch of that chicken-y goodness":

                              As someone who grew up raising chickens for meat and eggs, I can tell you unequivocally that there's nothing good about the water that's left after lightly scalding a chicken. It's a step that's useful in removing the feathers, and makes a smell you never forget.

                              As to the question of the distinction between stock on the one hand and dairy on the other, I like the traditional Hindu explanation: the milk is a gift from the cow. So it is appropriate to consume dairy products as long as they are accepted in the proper spirit.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Vegetarian Thai dishes pose a similar problem as most include fish paste in the sauces.

                        2. I didn't catch the show, but was it possible that the stock was made with the chickenless bouillion options that are out there ? That's what I use for my soup bases. I also have vegetarian oyster sauce, so there are "fish" sauces out there.

                          I agree that some restaurants have an odd idea of what "vegetarian" means...such as the soups you've referenced, bacon bits (just cuz they're little doesn't make them meat-free)..I usually ask, or avoid.

                          Then again, i'm the kind of vegetarian who, for the sake of one or two fantastic meals i've had in the past couple of years, did not query the kitchen as to what kind of broth was in the soup. And I don't wanna know now ! ;)

                          Kind of like those credit card bills that i'm sometimes afraid to open...."what the eyes don't see, the heart don't feel!" ;D

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            actually, bac-o's are vegan!!! weirder things. . . :)

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              i don't mean bac-o's and their like....I mean asking a server or what not whether the bacon on thesalads etc on the menu, real bacon or soy, and being told, oh they're "bacon bits", not meat. Actually had a server argue up and down that what was on my salad was not meat, when it was greasy, and stringy, and yes, very much meat.

                          2. Unless chicken has been reclassified as a vegetable, it should not be in a vegetarian dish, just as fish should not.

                            Bottom line: if it's made with meat ingredients, it ain't vegetarian. Period.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: The Professor

                              "Bottom line: if it's made with meat ingredients, it ain't vegetarian. Period."

                              -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              Does that include dairy products like ice cream? Or baked goods with butter?

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Cream and butter are not meat. Flesh and bone are meat.

                                Are you just playing Devil's advocate, or do you really not see the difference between killing an animal and not killing?

                                1. re: babette feasts

                                  Neither. I'm just trying to ferret out what people mean,e xactly, when they say vegetarian.

                                  I take it from your response that your definition of vegetarian has an ethical side to it -- i.e., "don't eat meat because it is wrong to kill animals".

                                  That's fine.

                                  But I also think that there are those whose definition of "vegetarian" is not so ethically inclined. For those people, being a vegetarian simply means not eating meat -- regardless of whether it is right or wrong to kill an animal.

                                  In this camp would be people who are vegetarians for health reasons, for example, and simply don't want to eat meat because of the saturated fats or the cholesterol, but would have no qualms eating something made with milk, butter, cheese, or chicken stock.

                                  Not making any value judgments, just saying that there are different, and maybe even divergent, views on what being a vegetarian means.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    But someone who eats chicken stock ISN'T a vegetarian.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      You know that is an interesting line of thought. Is it humane and ethical by vegetarian standards to rob a chicken of her potentials? To continually subject a cow or goat to mechanical milking? Isn;t there some objection to the treatment of those animals? Would that fall under the category of not eaating something for ethical reasons.

                                      Would those people only eat soy cheese and milk?

                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                        I suppose that's where vegans come in.

                                        Suffice to say, I think everyone has their own definition of "vegetarian" -- and no one is necessarily more right or wrong than the other person calling themselves "vegetarian".

                                        With that in mind, I don't think we should be so quick to judge Aida a doofus for using chicken stock in a "vegetarian soup".

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          A chicken has to die to be made into chicken stock. The killing of animals to be consumed by humans is everything vegetarianism is NOT.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            But someone who says they are a vegetarian and knowingly eats chicken or chicken stock, ISN'T a vegetarian. Just because they say they are doesn't make it true. And a vegetarian soup, by definition, can't have chicken stock in it.

                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                              True. Saying "I don't eat meat" is not the same as saying "I'm a vegetarian." Not eating meat is a dietary decision; being a vegetarian is a ideology, or at the very least, an identity. Food can be "meatless" without being vegetarian (as in the chicken stock example).

                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                Sooeygun -
                                                I have to agree with you. Vegetarian starts with not eating meat, then can only get more strict. It may be convenient for some people to make their own definition to explain their particular diet, but I don't think that changes the meaning of the word. Clearly, it causes a lot of confusion.

                                                You can be vegetarian for moral, health, environmental, or any other reasons, but chicken is still not a vegetable. Unless you know the specific peculiarities of the person you are cooking for, it is presumptuous and misinformed to put chicken stock in a 'vegetarian' soup.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                "With that in mind, I don't think we should be so quick to judge Aida a doofus for using chicken stock in a "vegetarian soup"."

                                                I must admit I am less kind than you, Ipsedixit. I do judge her to be a doofus. Her job is to give appropriate reliable information. People are, after all, "asking" her. Although there are certainly vegetarians who would be ok with eating chicken stock, there are many others who would be upset to be served chicken broth in their meal, because an animal was killed to make that product. For her to call it a vegetarian soup, and then to include chicken broth strikes me as misinformed and irresponsible. I am not a vegetarian, but have friends who are varying degrees of vegetarian. I would never dream of serving them something with chicken broth unless I knew they were ok with it. I have this horrible image of some poor mother looking for recipes for their newly vegetarian child thinking "ok, vegetarian soup - this looks good..."

                                                I am also reminded of the line from "My big fat greek wedding":
                                                "She's vegetarian"
                                                "Ok, I make lamb"

                                                1. re: moh

                                                  I am also reminded of the line from "My big fat greek wedding":
                                                  "She's vegetarian"
                                                  "Ok, I make lamb"

                                                  ___________________________________________

                                                  LOL.

                                                  1. re: moh

                                                    the dude in that movie was the veg.

                                                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                      You are completely right! Been a while since I saw that movie. What does it say that I can't remember the plot, but can remember the food jokes???? And I'm even from WInnipeg!!!

                                                    2. re: moh

                                                      That actually happened to me. Many years ago (1975, to be precise) I was in the toy business in a small way in Germany, and my partners and I went to the annual toy fair in Nuremburg. In the booth next to ours was a genuine white-bearded Black Forest woodcarver and his dumpling of a wife, showing his wares. We got talking, and they invited us to dinner at their nearby home. We were delighted to accept, but mentioned several times that two of our number were vegetarian.

                                                      When we got there, in honor of the vegetarians they cooked a big omelet - loaded with sliced weisswurst! That was as vegetarian as they were capable of comprehending. My veggie friends thanked them and carefully ate around the meat.

                                                    3. re: ipsedixit

                                                      respectfully disagree with you here, ipse.

                                                      << I don't think we should be so quick to judge Aida a doofus for using chicken stock in a "vegetarian soup".>>

                                                      anyone who calls a soup made with chicken stock "vegetarian" is either a doofus, or a douchebag, or or a flat out liar, or all three, imho.

                                              3. re: ipsedixit

                                                My father once got into pretty hot water for serving ice cream to children from his religious order because it had eggs in it. My argument has always been that the whites of unfertilized eggs should be treated like milk, since there is no possible way it can become a chicken. But, no cakes that contain eggs or cheese with rennet. Fresh pasta or noodles are forbidden and yogurt with any kind of gelatin. Butter isn't really an issue because milk is fine.

                                            2. and gelatin(e) is made from dead animals too, unless specifically suitable for vegetarians or the kosher kind in jello and puddings and many yoghurts too.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: smartie

                                                Actually, kosher does not imply vegetarian. Kosher gelatin can be made of fish or skin and bones of cattle. As long as no flesh (i.e. muscle tissue) is involved, it is still considered kosher, assuming of course the animal was slaughtered according to kosher butchering protocols.