Vegetarian Food Hygiene to Avoid Cross Contamination
Because every vegetarian is different, you will need to decide for yourself what is acceptable. The following are the guidelines that we use to avoid cross contamination from meat products.
Frying and Deep Frying
Whether at home or in a restaurant, you definitely do not want to use the oil in the fryer, if someone has just fried a meat product, for your French fries or fried pizza dough.
Grills and Barbeques
Mats are sold that you could put your vegetarian items on, or place them in a separate grill pan so your items do not come into contact with the metal that previously cooked meat. You can also make sure you and your meat eating roommates have distinctive sides on the grill. Or you can buy a small indoor grill for yourself so you can be sure that it is always vegetarian friendly. If you are going out to eat, ask where they cook their vegetarian grilled items and if they use a separate grill? Do they clean well before putting your corn on the cob on the same grill? Do they use some type of mat or aluminum wrap?
Separate boards or mats should be used for meat versus vegetarian products and vegetables. Color coded plastic maps are easy to find.
Separate Serving Plates and Utensils
For example, do not put meat and veggie sandwiches on the same plate. Also, be sure you have enough serving utensils so vegetarian and meat eaters do not have to share. For instance, if you are serving spaghetti marinara as well as spaghetti Bolognese, be sure to have two separate serving utensils. Same goes for Brussel sprouts with and without bacon bits. If you are bringing a vegetarian meal to a potluck, bring two serving utensils, just in case someone forgot theirs and yours is used for a meat dish.
Eating at restaurants can sometimes present problems. If you are at a vegetarian restaurant, you will be fine, but if you are eating other restaurants, you definitely need to check with your server. In my experience, restaurants who are most sympathetic to avoiding cross contamination are: Italian, Indian, Thai, Middle-eastern, pizza shops, and sandwich shops. The least sympathetic tend to be large chains where there is a chance that chicken nuggets were fried in the same oil as your mushroom caps. Go to smaller restaurants where the owner is usually present and ask them. They want you to come back and will be more honest and knowledgeable about what goes into each item and how the food is prepared.