Vegetarian for Life

Best Practice

​This advice is provided as a best practice guide. Members of the Vegetarian for Life UK – List undertake to operate within its spirit, in order to provide ethical catering for older vegetarians. They may also choose to include provision for older vegans. We hope that you find this information useful. If your establishment follows these good practice guidelines, then you may wish to join our UK – List. Find out more about the benefits of membership.

Download the Best Practice guide as an A4-sized poster to display in your kitchen.

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Vegetarian dishes must not contain:

  • Animal flesh (meat, fish or shellfish)
  • Meat, fish, or bone stock, or stock cubes containing same
  • Animal carcass fats (including suet, lard or dripping)
  • Gelatine, gelatine-based jelly, or aspic (jelly made from meat stock)
  • Products with ingredients derived from slaughterhouse e.g. calf rennet in cheese
  • Battery or intensively produced eggs should be avoided wherever possible. Please consult individual residents regarding their opinion about eggs

Vegan dishes must not contain:

  • Anything on the vegetarian list above
  • Dairy products including cheese, milk, butter, cream, yoghurt and whey
  • Eggs
  • Products with ingredients derived from eggs or dairy, e.g. albumen, casein, ghee, lactose or whey
  • Honey
  • Shellac

Common Stumbling Blocks


Traditionally cheese was made using rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomach of slaughtered calves. But today most UK cheese is vegetarian. If in doubt, please ask your supplier. Cheese products are never suitable for vegans. Vegan cheese-alternatives are available in some stores.

Fats, Oils and Margarine

Butter is suitable for vegetarians, but not for vegans. Other animal fats and fish oils, and products containing them, are unsuitable for either. There are many margarines suitable for both vegetarians and vegans – usually clearly indicated on the container.

Gravies and Stock

Cubes or powders containing meat, poultry or fish extract are not acceptable. Please use vegetable stocks and stock cubes.


Royal jelly is not vegetarian. Honey is acceptable to vegetarians but not vegans. Agave syrup can be a useful replacement.

Milk and Cream

Milk and cream are acceptable to vegetarians, but not to vegans. Soya milk is readily available and is good for most vegans. Rice, nut and oat milks are also available for those who do not like soya.

Worcester Sauce

Usually contains anchovies, but vegetarian and vegan versions are available.


The majority of vegetarians and vegans have adopted their lifestyle because of concern for animal suffering. If you provide soap, shampoo and similar products, please try to ensure that they are animal-free and have not been tested on animals.

Kitchen Hygiene

Work surfaces, chopping boards, utensils and other equipment should either be kept separate from those used for non-vegetarian food preparation, or cleaned thoroughly beforehand. Cross contamination should also be avoided between vegetarian and vegan foods. Please ensure that fryers, grills and griddles used for meat and fish are thoroughly cleaned. Fryers must be filled with fresh, uncontaminated oil before vegetarian or vegan food is cooked.

Providing Choice

  • For each meal you should offer at least one vegetarian option.
  • Good communication with your vegetarian residents or service-users should ensure that individual preferences are observed. (If necessary – for frail or vulnerable vegetarians – family or friends should be consulted to ascertain preferences.)
  • Menu planning should ensure a good variety of food of high nutritional value with an appropriate mix of carbohydrate, protein, fat and fibre providing at least 5 portions a day of fruit or vegetables. ‘Dairy overload’ should be avoided. See the 'Balance and Planning' page in the Catering Guide publication.
  • We would encourage you to offer your meat-eaters the vegetarian options – which will be good for the variety and nutritional needs of their diet.

Listing Options

​There are three listing options for members of the UK – List. All members of the list accept our guidelines for basic vegetarian provision. We would encourage members to add either or both of the following categories to their listing. These are only options and are not requirements for VfL UK – List membership. Vegan: members agree to adhere to the guidelines for vegan provision. Free range: all eggs used are free range and, wherever possible, any ready-made products used contain free-range eggs.
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