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Catering Information Guide


Welcome to our handy guide to help you cater for vegan prisoners.

The information in this booklet should ensure that you have all the basic facts at your fngertips to offer an economical and nutritional vegan diet, as well as a varied and tasty menu choice.

Definition of a Vegan

Veganism may be defined as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

In dietary terms it refers to the practice of dispensing with all animal produce - including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, animal milks, honey, and their derivatives. In terms of clothing, the wearing of such items as leather, suede, silk and wool, etc would not be acceptable to vegans.

Abhorrence of the cruel practices inherent in an agricultural system based on the abuse of animals is probably the single most common reason for the adoption of vegansim, but many people are also drawn to it for health, ecological, resource, spiritual and other reasons.

The above information was provided by the Vegan Society which was formed in 1944.

The Vegan Society
Donald Watson House,
21 Hylton Street,
B18 6HJ
Tel: 0121 523 1730

Practices in Catering

All work surfaces and chopping boards, utensils and all other kitchen equipment and facilities should be either kept separate from those used for non-vegan food preparation, or cleaned thoroughly before vegan food preparation.

NOMS Guidelines on the care of Vegans

Basic Beliefs

1.1 Veganism is not a religion but a philosophy whereby the use of an animal for food, clothing or any other purpose is regarded as wholly unacceptable.

1.2 The majority of Vegans reject entirely anything which has its origins in the exploitation, suffering or death of any creature. An individual may lead a Vegan lifestyle for one particular reason or for a combination of reasons, and this may result in some Vegans being stricter than others in what they deem as acceptable and unacceptable. Vegan beliefs are followed by individuals within various faiths, to varying degrees, and by individuals of no faith.

1.3 Most Vegans will not involve themselves directly, or indirectly, in anything whereby their lifestyle and beliefs are compromised or violated, either for themselves or for others. Throughout their lives, Vegans will seek to sever all links with, and dependencies upon, the use or abuse of animals.


2.1 A Vegan diet is based on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and cereals. The diet omits all animal products including meat, poultry, fish, sea creatures, invertebrates, eggs, animal milks, honey and royal jelly. Vegans should not be required to handle such foodstuffs. Food/drink containing or made with any of the above or their derivatives should not be served. The Vegan Society can provide helpful information on a range of issues including how nutrients are obtained from a Vegan diet.

2.2 Human nutrient requirements, with the exception of B12 can be met by a diet composed entirely of plant foods, but to do so it must be carefully planned using a wide selection of foods. Fortified Yeast extract is a good source of some of the B-vitamins, including vitamin B12 as is fortified Soya milk.

Purchase of Supplements and Herbal Remedies

3.1 Herbal remedies and dietary supplements of vegetable or synthetic origin such as Iodine (e.g. Kelp tablets) may be requested through the prison shop or via mail order.


4.1 Clothing and footwear must be from non-animal (e.g. plant or synthetic) sources. The wearing of all animal fibres, skins and materials including wool, silk, leather and suede will not be accepted by Vegan prisoners.


5.1 Toiletries containing any animal derived ingredients and where either the product or its ingredients have been tested on animals are totally unacceptable and are not permitted. Therefore, whenever toiletries suitable for Vegans are required, establishments should make arrangements for such items to be stocked in the prison retail, or ordered in as necessary.

5.2 Vegans should not be expected to use inappropriate toiletries.

5.3 Vegans should not be asked to handle or use substances that have involved animal testing on the product or its ingredients.


6.1 Most Vegan prisoners will not wish to be involved in any way in the care of animals on prison farms. Vegans usually choose not to engage in any sport, hobby, or trade that directly or indirectly, causes stress, distress, suffering, or death to any creature.

6.2 Vegans should not be expected to work in butchery or handle anything of animal origin or content.


To maintain a healthy vegan diet at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables are required each day. Potatoes are a starchy food and so do not count. Fruit and vegetables provide some of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health and they are also high fibre foods. To ensure maximum absorption of vitamins, we recommend that some vegetables are eaten raw, as heating destroys some vitamins.


Fresh fruit, dried fruit and fruit tinned in natural juices all contribute to the 5 a day total. A portion of fresh or tinned fruit would be 80g (3 oz). As dried fruit provides a more concentrated source of nutrients, 30g (1 oz) is sufficient for a portion.

Rainbow Foods

Eating a wide variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables will ensure excellent sources of folate, vitamin C, carotenoids, and many other protective substances that contribute to good health.

While the less colourful fruits and vegetables, such as bananas and potatoes do not have the same benefits, they are still useful sources of potassium and other nutrients. However they are no substitute for brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as oranges or spring greens.

It is important that brightly coloured fruits and vegetables be a major part of the diet. Eating several different colours maximises health benefits. More information below:


Green leafy vegetables and broccoli have special characteristics, in particular high levels of vitamin K which may improve bone health. Other green vegetables include brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale.


Carrots are an excellent source of betacarotene. This is better absorbed if the carrots are cooked or juiced with a little oil. Other orange fruits and vegetables include butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apricots and mangos.

Orange/ Yellow

These cousins to the orange family are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant understood to protect cells from damage. Good sources include: carrots, mangos, oranges, peaches and tangerines.


Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene. This antioxidant is better absorbed from processed tomato products and cooked rather than raw tomatoes.

Red/ Purple

Foods include: aubergine, blackberries, blueberries, deep purple grapes, purple plums, red apples, red cabbage, red onions and strawberries.

Yellow/ Green

Foods include: celery, courgettes, green beans, green and yellow peppers, kale, kiwifruit, leeks, oranges, peas, romaine lettuce, spinach, spring greens and sweet corn.

White/ Green

Foods include: garlic, onions, celery, leeks and mushrooms

NOMS Guidance for the Provision of Vegan Meals

Identifying the Need

(a) Prisoners who have chosen a vegan way of life must be issued with a suitable vegan diet. Provided that the Governor is satisfied that the grounds are genuine, and subject to the policy and guidance contained in PSI 44/2010, together with the Directory and Guide on Religious Practices in NOMS, the normal diet may be varied accordingly.

(b) This requirement does not prevent other prisoners choosing the vegan choice from multi-choice pre-select menus.

Understanding the Need

Veganism is not a religion, but a philosophy whereby the use of an animal for food, clothing or any other purpose is regarded as wholly unacceptable. It should not be misunderstood as relating to dietary needs only since it also covers clothing, hygiene, practices in the community and aspects of social functioning.

The majority of vegans are non-speciesist and reject entirely anything that has its origins in the exploitation, suffering or death of any creature.

An individual may lead a vegan lifestyle for one particular reason or for a combination of reasons, and this may result in some vegans being stricter than others in what they deem as acceptable or unacceptable.

Satisfying the Need

Vegan prisoners will require assurances from time to time that the meals provided do not contain unsuitable derivatives. A vegan diet omits all animal products
including animal flesh, fish, sea creatures, invertebrates, eggs, animal milks and their derivatives. Vegans do not consume honey nor royal jelly. Food/drink containing or made with any of the above or their derivatives should neither be offered nor served.

Some processed products and commodities are ‘brought in’. Catering Managers should satisfy themselves that these products do not contain animal derivatives. Derivatives that contain any part of meat, poultry, fish, sea creatures, invertebrates, eggs, animal milks, honey or royal jelly are unacceptable.
With the exception of vitamin B12 and iodine, vegan dietary requirements can be met from a diet composed entirely of plant foods, but it should be carefully planned using a wide selection of foods. Grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh and dried fruits, beans and pulses. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is also a good source of protein*.

Vitamin B12 does not occur naturally in the vegan diet so it is essential that a viable supplement be available. Fortified yeast extract is a good source of some of the B-vitamins, including B12, as is fortified soya milk.

Delivering the  Need

Vegan prisoners should be provided with an ordinary diet that is vegan, and with a suitable beverage, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, soya margarine in lieu of dairy issue margarine and soya milk/soya yogurt in lieu of dairy products.

*It is recommended that the use of TVP be restricted to no more than three times a week. Other sources of protein are nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, peas, tofu and peanuts.

Example Menu Choices

Breakfast: muesli / cereal with fortified soya milk, bread rolls or toast, margarine, vegan fruit jam, fruit juice or fresh fruit.

Day Lunch Tea
Monday Peanut Butter & Salad Sandwiches Chilli Bean Cottage Pie
Tuesday Veggie Burger & Salad in a Bun Lentil Curry and Rice
Wednesday Refried Beans & Salad in a Wrap Walnut and Mushroom Pasties
Thursday Jacket Potato & Baked Beans Stuffed Pepper
Friday Mixed Bean Salad Chow Mein
Saturday Carrot & Lentil Spread Sandwiches Lentil and Tomato Pasties
Sunday Nut Roast & Vegetables Hummus and Salad

In addition, a choice of vegan desserts should be offered when it is part of the main meal for the rest of the prisoners; examples being fruit crumble, rice pudding, apricot or date slice, flapjacks and fruit pies. If the gap between the evening meal and breakfast exceeds fourteen hours and prisoners are locked up in the evening, establishments should provide an additional snack and hot drink for consumption later in the evening.

Establishments should ensure that throughout the catering cycle, beginning with meal preparation through to commodity delivery and meal service, extreme care is taken to the product to avoid cross-contamination with anything containing any form of animal product.

Storage and Meal Service

Vegan choices should be clearly indicated as such on pre-select menus.

Vegan products should be stored in separate containers where facilities allow. If this is not possible, then products may be stored within the same facility in an isolated designated area on a higher, separated shelf clearly labelled for vegan products. Designated containers should be used. It is good practice that products are issued by persons who are not handling animal products.

Separation of vegan food during preparation and service is a key requirement, thereby avoiding cross contamination with non-vegan products.

Vegan products should always be clearly labelled to avoid error.

Note: It is good practice for meals for vegans to be served in single-portion trays (i.e. tin foil or polystyrene and marked as such). A suitable diet stove should be used for the preparation of vegan dishes.

Hot Cupboards and Hot Trolleys

Vegan dishes should be placed in a separate compartment wherever possible, and in any event should be covered and marked ‘vegan’. Vegan options should be stacked higher than non-vegan dishes to avoid cross contamination. Separate utensils must be used for preparation and serving. Establishments can purchase frozen oven-ready vegan meals available nationally from the contracted frozen food supplier. Additional funds are not available for this purpose.


Food Group Daily Amount What It Provides Suggestions
Vegetables 2+, 100g [4oz] vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, antioxidants broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, spinach, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin
Fruit 3+, large pieces vitamins, minerals, fibre, vitamin C to help absorb iron include some citrus fruit
Nuts 1-2, 25g [1oz] protein, oils, minerals, fibre almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazlenuts, peanuts, nut butters
Oils as required for cooking energy, oils unhydrogenated rapeseed oil
Wholegrains and root vegetables 2+, 100g [4oz] energy, protein, vitamins, fibre pasta, oats, bread, rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, barley, bulgur wheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, parsnips
Pulses 1+, 100g [4oz] energy, protein, minerals, fibre peas, lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, kidney beans, soya products

As a general guide food from the above groups should be eaten every day to provide a solid foundation for a vegan diet. Increased servings may be needed according to energy requirements. Any margarine used should be non-hydrogenated. Rapeseed oil is preferred to sunflower, safflower, soy or sesame oil as it provides a better balance of types of fat, including omega-3 fats.

Key Nutrient Daily Amount Suggestions
Calcium 700 to 1200mg An adequate intake of calcium can be assured by 3 litres per week of fortified soya milk [containing at least 120mg/ 100ml] or an equivalent amount of other calcium rich foods: tofu prepared with calcium sulphate (see labels for calcium content); green leafy vegetables, such as kale or spring greens (about 150 mg per 100g), or a vegan calcium supplement. Note that calcium from spinach is poorly absorbed.
Vitamin B12 3 micrograms+ Fortified foods or supplements. e.g. 25g per week of a yeast extract fortified with 50 micrograms of B12 per 100g OR 600 ml per day of soya milk fortified with 0.5 micrograms B12 per 100 ml OR a daily B12 tablet containing at least 3 micrograms B12.
Iodine 150 to 500 micrograms Iodine is important for good metabolism and thyroid function. Ideal intakes for adults lie between 150 and 500 micrograms a day. While this can be achieved by careful use of seaweed it may be more convenient and reliable to use a supplement.

Stephen Walsh PhD., Vegan Society Spokesperson on Diet and Health. Updated March 2006


  1. Daily amounts are given as number of servings followed by serving size, for cooked foods serving sizes are given as cooked weights.
  2. Each piece of fruit should be around 100g, e.g. one orange, banana or apple. For smaller fruits a serving should be sufficient pieces to make up 100g, e.g. 2 nectarine oranges or about thirty grapes.

Vegan Essentials

It is recommended that the following be provided each week:


Rainbow Fruit/ Vegetables

The 5-a-day should include plenty of strongly coloured fruit/vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, red/green peppers, broccoli, beetroot, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges and kiwifruit.


It is important to include a brazil nut or 100g (3 oz) sunflower seeds a day to ensure a good selenium intake.

Essential Fatty Acids

It is essential to include a good source ofomega-3 (e.g. 6 walnut halves daily).

Magnesium and Calcium

Good sources of magnesium are bananas, prunes, almonds and cashew nuts. Good sources of calcium are fortified soya milk, spring greens, kale, broccoli, almonds, sesame seeds and tahini. Consuming 2x250ml of fortified soya milk daily should help towards the daily calcium requirements of 700mg/day.

Whole Grain vs Refined

Limit the use of refined grains. Over processed food should be used sparingly, as it will have lost much of its nutritional content.

Hydrogenated Fat

It is recommended that products stating ‘no hydrogenated fat’ should be eaten where possible.


Seeds are a concentrated source of nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin E, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. It is recommended that seeds, such as sunflower, sesame or pumpkin, are included in the diet on a regular basis.

B12/ Iodine

Consuming the recommended amounts of fortified soya milk will contribute towards vitamin B12 intake. Iodine is required for proper functioning of the thyroid gland. As it is impracticable for this to be provided in the prison diet, an iodine supplement is recommended. (See details on page 9).

Vitamin D

If sun exposure is limited, a supplement of Vitamin D2 should be considered (see page 9). Some of the daily requirements may be obtained from fortified soya milk and fortified margarines (unhydrogenated if possible). Note: D3 is not vegan.1

Textured Vegetable Protein

It is important to limit the use of TVP (soya mince) to two or three times per week. Other sources of protein are nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, tofu and peanuts.

Salt Reduction

Limit the use of salt or use a low sodium alternative. To counterbalance the high salt content of processed foods endeavour to eat foods containing potassium such as green leafy and root vegetables, fresh fruit, cereals and nuts.


Nuts and seeds offer an abundance of nutritional benefits and are an important part of a healthy vegan diet. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids and fibre. The daily requirement is one to two servings. A recommended serving would be 30g (1oz).

Almonds are high in riboflavin, copper, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E. They also contain zinc and are a rich source of calcium.

Brazils are a good source of B vitamins, selenium and calcium. Note: one large brazil nut per day should fulfil the daily requirement of selenium.

Cashews are a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and tryptophan (one of the essential amino acids that the body uses to synthesize the proteins it needs).

Flaxseed (linseed) is highly nutritious and is best known for high levels of omega-3, but is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron. It is recommended that linseeds be ground to ensure that optimum nutrition is obtained.

Hazelnuts are a good source of omega-3, vitamin E, B group vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), selenium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Sesame seeds are a good source of vitamin B, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Tahini or sesame butter is a useful form.

Sunflower seeds are the richest seed source of vitamin E and an excellent source of vitamin B, copper and magnesium. known for high levels of omega-3, but is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron. It is recommended that linseeds be ground to ensure that optimum nutrition is obtained.

Walnuts supply copper and manganese and are full of linolenic acid, which can be converted to omega-3 fatty acids in the body. (Six walnut halves a day should provide the daily requirement).


All varieties of beans and lentils are rich sources of protein, fibre, carbohydrates and the essential amino acid lysine. Most grains are deficient in lysine, which is why the combination of ‘rice and beans’ makes a complete protein. Many beans also contain folic acid. Grains provide important sources of dietary fibre, plant protein and phytochemicals. They also fortify the vegan diet with important vitamins and minerals.

Whole Grain vs Refined: A good number of nutrients and much of the fibre is lost from grains when they are refined. Therefore we recommend that a percentage of grains are served unrefined.


Aduki beans contain iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1).

Black-eyed beans are a good source of magnesium, iron and folate (vitamin B9).

Brown lentils are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.

Butter/lima beans are an excellent source of iron, potassium, and folate (vitamin B9).

Broad beans are a good source of beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and iron.

Cannellini beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral molybdenum, the essential amino acid tryptophan, folate, manganese and iron.

Chick peas are a good source of iron, selenium, zinc, folate (vitamin B9), manganese and some calcium and vitamin C.

Green lentils are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.

Green split peas are a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), folate (vitamin B9), phosphorus, copper, zinc and manganese, but they are lower in protein than other legumes.

Mung beans are high in dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate (vitamin B9), copper, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.

Peanuts are a legume, not a nut. They are a good protein source and also contain vitamin E, B group vitamins, folate (vitamin B9), copper, phosphorus and magnesium. Peanut butter is a nutritious and versatile form.

Red kidney beans must be boiled vigorously for at least ten minutes to remove dangerous toxins before reducing the heat for the rest of the cooking period. Good source of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3).

Red lentils are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.

Tofu is made from soya beans and brands manufactured using calcium chloride are a good source of calcium. It also contains iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and vitamins B and E.

Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a good source of iron and magnesium.

Yellow split peas are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.


Barley contains dietary fibre, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and the amino acid tryptophan.

Brown rice contains vitamins B1 and B6, protein, zinc, iron, fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese.

Oats contain carbohydrates, dietary fibre, thiamin (vitamin B1), potassium and vitamin B6. Whole oats contain magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, sodium, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3).

Quinoa is a good source of protein, calcium, dietary fibre, folate (vitamin B9), phosphorus, and is high in magnesium, manganese, copper, B vitamins, antioxidants and iron.

Cooking and Soaking Time for Pulses

Dried Beans Soaking Time Cooking Time
Aduki beans 60 minutes (hot soaking) 45 - 60 minutes
Black-eyed beans overnight 60 - 90 minutes
Broad beans, fresh none 5 - 8 minutes
Brown lentils none 30 - 45 minutes
Butter / lima beans overnight 60 - 90 minutes
Chick peas overnight 60 - 90 minutes
Green lentils none 30 - 45 minutes
Green split peas none 45 - 60 minutes
Mung beans overnight 45 - 60 minutes
Red kidney beans overnight 60 - 90 minutes
Red lentils none 15 - 20 minutes
Yellow split peas none 45 - 60 minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information on Frequently Asked Questions see pages 10/ 11 in The Catering Information Guide.

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