FAQ: Ask Amys
Click the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information about Amy's Kitchen. If you don't see your question here feel free to contact us:
General Product Questions
- 1. What is rennet?
- 2. Do you use packaging that can be recycled?
- 3. I just bought an Amy's product. The nutritional information on the box is different than what is on your website. Why is that? Which one is right?
- 4. Are the dairy ingredients used in your products pasteurized?
- 5. I bought your product, but accidentally placed it in my refrigerator and it thawed out. Can I still eat it?
- 6. Why is there so much fat and sodium in some your products?
- 7. Why do the grams on the per serving nutritional label not add up to the actual weight of one serving?
- 8. Is the plastic overwrap on your frozen products safe to microwave?
- 9. What are trans fats? Do Amy’s products contain trans fats?
- 10. Does Amy's use cans with BPA liners?
- 11. All microwaves differ in wattage; how do i know that your microwave cooking instructions are accurate?"
- 12. Where can I find the "Best Before” Dates on your products?
Special Diets / Allergies
- 1. I have several food allergies. Is there a possibility of cross contamination in your facility?
- 2. Do your foods contain MSG?
- 3. Do any of your products contain peanuts?
- 4. What is the difference between lactose free & dairy free? Are they the same?
- 5. Why aren't your soy cheeze products dairy free?
- 6. I have sensitivities to some spices and you don't list your spices on your ingredient panel. How do I know if the spices I am allergic to are in your product?
- 7. I am a vegan. Do you have any products that are vegan?
- 8. Are Amy's products certified Kosher?
- 1. What is a vegetarian?
- 2. How is Amy's Kitchen vegetarian?
- 3. How does Vegetarian farming save resources?
- 4. Why don't vegetarians eat meat?
- 5. Is Vegetarianism just a fad?
- 6. Is Vegetarianism a healthy diet?
- 7. "Veg Out” in 10 Easy Steps
- 8. How nutritious is a vegetarian diet?
- 9. Is vegetarianism good for children?
- 10. Letters about vegetarianism
- 11. Vegetarian Resources
- 1. What are trans fats?
- 2. Does Amy’s Kitchen use Trans Fats?
- 3. Are all fats bad?
- 4. Why are trans fats harmful?
- 5. Why are trans fats so prevalent in processed foods?
- 6. Where can i find more information on Trans Fats?
- 1. Where can I buy Amy's products?
- 2. I saw some items on your site that my local Amy's vendor does not carry. What should I do?
- 3. What is organic certification? Are all Amy's products 100% organic?
- 4. Can I buy your products directly from you? Can I buy them online?
- 5. Can I buy stock in Amy's Kitchen? Is Amy's publicly traded?
- 6. What is Amy’s Human Rights Policy?
- Q. What is rennet?
A. This is a general term used for the enzyme used to clot the milk during the cheese-making process. Although in the past, some rennet came from calves stomachs, excellent microbial/vegetarian rennets have been available for many years. Amy's insists that no animal enzymes are used in any of the cheeses that we use in our products. Our suppliers sign agreements to that effect.
- Q. Do you use packaging that can be recycled?
A. Amy's Kitchen cartons are made from unbleached boards with no poly coating on the inside and clay coating on the outside. These cartons are recyclable at most recycling facilities. Please check to make sure that recycling programs for this type of package exist in your area.
Amy's believes that it is important to support recycling efforts. We have projects underway at this time to increase the quantity of recycled materials used in our paperboard, to reduce the coating on the pizza cartons to make them easier to recycle and to put recycling information on all of our packages.
- Q. I just bought an Amy's product. The nutritional information on the box is different than what is on your website. Why is that? Which one is right?
A. It is at times necessary to change the ingredient statements or nutrition facts on our products, which results in changes to our packaging. Because Amy's products are not sold directly to consumers, there is a delay between the time new packaging gets used and when new packaging arrives in the store. Any packaging changes that occur are changed on our website as the packaging arrives at our manufacturing facility. Therefore, the information on the website is often more accurate. If you are still unsure about any discrepancies, please contact Amy's customer relations via telephone or email.
- Q. Are the dairy ingredients used in your products pasteurized?
A. Yes, All dairy ingredients are made with pasteurized, rBST hormone free milk and do not contain animal enzymes or rennet.
- Q. I bought your product, but accidentally placed it in my refrigerator and it thawed out. Can I still eat it?
A. If a product is accidentally placed in the home refrigerator instead of the freezer, it will probably still be safe to eat, as long as the temperature of the product has not exceeded refrigerator temperatures (should be below 40 degrees F at all times). However, the texture of the product may not be optimum and cooking procedures would be different from a fully frozen product.
You should never buy a partially thawed product from the store, since it is difficult to say what the exact temperature history of that product might be and the flavor and texture of the product may not be up to Amy's usual high standards. You should use common sense when deciding whether or not to use a thawed product — if it doesn't feel right to you, discard the product.
- Q. Why is there so much fat and sodium in some your products?
A. Amy's Kitchen tries to minimize the amount of fat and sodium in all our products, but we also want the products to taste the very best they can to the large majority of Amy's customers. So, although some of Amy's products are acceptable to many who are generally trying to cut down on fat and sodium, they are not intended specifically as medical foods. Amy's customers should read the labels carefully and make their own decisions regarding the use of Amy's products as part of their overall diet plan.
- Q. Why do the grams on the per serving nutritional label not add up to the actual weight of one serving?
A. The reason for this is because water is not listed among the items on the nutritional panel. Most foods and ingredients such as milk, vegetables, cheeses, cooked pasta, etc. naturally contain significant amounts of water.
- Q. Is the plastic overwrap on your frozen products safe to microwave?
A. At Amy’s Kitchen, we make sure that all the plastic films and coatings used in the packaging of our frozen products are safe to use.
The concern about the use of plastic films and coatings in food packaging is based on research showing that some plastics, including PVC, have plasticizers in them that could leak into food at low levels. Because of this, Amy's Kitchen requires that all plastic films and coatings used in the packaging of our frozen products be free of plasticizers.
At Amy's, the film around each tray (the overwrap) is made of stretched polypropylene. Polypropylene does not contain plasticizers. Our trays are paper, lined with PET, which is also free of plasticizers.
Burrito packages are made of PET, with an inner polyethylene film in contact with the burritos. Neither of these films contains plasticizers.
These measures have been taken to ensure that all of our packaging material is safe for use. However, if you would prefer not to cook in plastic, our products can be easily removed from the original container and cooked in glass.
- Q. What are trans fats? Do Amy’s products contain trans fats?
A. Trans fatty acids or trans fats are formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable fat is used by food processors because it is solid at room temperature and has a longer shelf life.
Recent research indicates that consumption of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable fats and oils can play a role in the development of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health-related issues.
Products made from vegetables, fruits and grains have no trans fats. Because Amy’s Kitchen uses only natural ingredients, there are no partially hydrogenated oils in any of our products. Amy’s uses only finest natural and organic ingredients so that all our products contain no additives, no preservatives, no GMOs and 0g of trans fat.
Most trans fats in the American diet are formed when vegetable oils are chemically changed to give them a longer shelf life, but trans fats do occur naturally in small amounts in some foods, including dairy products. Amy’s products with dairy ingredients have a very low level of naturally occurring trans fat. The level is so low (less than 0.5 grams/serving) that the FDA has defined them as having “0 grams” trans fats.
- Q. Does Amy's use cans with BPA liners?
We are pleased to announce that as of March 1, 2012, Amy’s has completely transitioned to cans using no BPA in the formulation of its liner. Even though BPA is omnipresent in the environment from a multitude of sources, testing levels on our canned products with the new liner are showing reduced BPA levels of less than 1 part per billion.
- Q. All microwaves differ in wattage; how do i know that your microwave cooking instructions are accurate?"
Suggested Cooking Times & Adjustments
Add approximately 2 minutes 15 seconds cooktime
Add approximately 2 minutes cooktime
Add approximately 1 minute 30 seconds cooktime
Add approximately 1 minute 15 seconds cooktime
Add approximately 1 minute cooktime
Add approximately 55 seconds cooktime
Add approximately 35 seconds cooktime
Follow cooking instructions on packaging
Reduce approximately 10 seconds
Reduce approximately20 seconds
Reduce approximately35 seconds
- Q. Where can I find the "Best Before” Dates on your products?
The shelf life of our product represents the amount of time the product can be stored and still have the best flavor and texture. When the shelf life is exceeded on frozen, canned, jarred and grocery items, it does not mean the food is unsafe to eat; it means that the appearance, flavor, and texture might not be up to Amy’s Kitchen’s normal standards. Here's where you can find the "best before" dates on Amy's products.
Frozen Bowls, Entrees and Desserts: on the side of the box
Frozen Burritos: on the back flap of the wrapper
Non Dairy Frozen Dessert: on the bottom of the carton
Canned Soup, Chili and Beans: on the bottom of the can
Jarred Pasta Sauces and Salsa: on the shoulders of the jars
Cookies: on the side of the box
Candy: on the back flap of the wrapper
- Q. I have several food allergies. Is there a possibility of cross contamination in your facility?
A. Amy's Kitchen recognizes the needs of our customers who have allergies or sensitivities to nuts, gluten, certain spices, etc. Amy's always fully discloses all ingredients (except for specific spices used in the product) on the ingredient statement and will answer any questions that will help consumers decide what products they can safely consume.
A wide range of activities and cross-checks are completed to ensure that cross-contamination and/or inadvertent use of the wrong ingredient does not occur in our facilities. Examples include:
- Full shift manufacture of products with complete clean-up of all food contact surfaces between products. Pieces of equipment that come in contact with food are cleaned, sanitized and inspected prior to the manufacture of the next product.
- Inspection of all incoming raw materials to assure they are free from contamination.
- Separate item numbers for all ingredients and packaging materials; these are checked by two individuals on receipt of the ingredient and three people on use of the ingredient to confirm the correct item is used.
- Use of colored tags, papers and containers in production as an addition visual check to ensure intermediate components are not interchanged.
- Designated areas for flour and nonfat dry milk use to control airborne allergens and minimize spread.
- Bar code readers at packaging lines to ensure correct package is used with each product.
- Analysis for gluten in our in-house allergen lab: Each manufacturing run of a Gluten Free product is tested to ensure it complies with the FDA definition of Gluten Free (<20 ppm).
- Potentially problematic ingredients are screened in–house to assure suppliers are properly handling and processing ingredients used in our gluten free finished products.
- Confirmative testing to assure consistency of lab results.
- Spot screening of ingredients and finished products at University of Nebraska (FARRP - Food Allergy Research and Resource Program) to confirm there are no unlabeled allergens (utilize tests for gluten, soy, milk, certain treenuts, etc.).
At Amy's we take every precaution to ensure that cross contamination of ingredients does not occur in our production facility but we want you to know that this product was produced in a plant that processes foods containing wheat, milk, soy, tree nuts and seeds. Amy's Kitchen does not use any peanuts, fish, shellfish or eggs.
- Q. Do your foods contain MSG?
A. Amy's adds no monosodium glutamate (MSG) flavor enhancer directly to any of our products. If you are extremely sensitive to MSG, you may want to avoid foods and ingredients that naturally contain MSG such as Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, tomatoes, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and other ingredients as recommended by your doctor. All ingredients are listed in the ingredient statements on our packages.
- Q. Do any of your products contain peanuts?
A. Because peanut allergies can be extremely dangerous (and even life threatening) to a very small percentage of the population, Amy's uses no peanut products as ingredients in our food.
- Q. What is the difference between lactose free & dairy free? Are they the same?
A. Lactose-free products are NOT the same as Dairy Free products.
People who are sensitive to dairy products are usually sensitive to either lactose (the sugar naturally present in milk) or to the milk protein. Products that are called "Lactose Free" do not contain any milk sugar, but they may contain isolated, lactose-free milk protein as caseinate.
"Dairy Free" products do not contain lactose or milk proteins. If you would like to avoid milk proteins or dairy completely, you should only purchase Amy's products that are labeled "Dairy Free," "non-dairy," or "vegan."
- Q. Why aren't your soy cheeze products dairy free?
A. In some of Amy's products like Tofu Vegetable Lasagna, we use soy cheeze instead of dairy cheese, for the benefit of our customers who are trying to avoid dairy cheeses. However, Amy's does not label these products as "dairy free" because they contain a small amount of caseinate, a milk/dairy protein which helps the soy cheeze to melt and stretch. Amy's clearly labels the soy cheeze as containing caseinate, a milk derived protein.
- Q. I have sensitivities to some spices and you don't list your spices on your ingredient panel. How do I know if the spices I am allergic to are in your product?
A. Amy's customers who are sensitive or allergic to certain spices are welcome to call or email Amy's and get more information. Please let the Amy's Customer Relations staff know which products you are interested in and the spice that you are sensitive to, so they can completely address your concern.
- Q. I am a vegan. Do you have any products that are vegan?
A. Amy's products are clearly labeled in the ingredients statements to allow customers who desire vegan products to choose which of Amy's products are useful to them. Of course all Amy's Kitchen products are vegetarian, but not all are vegan. Our customers can decide which of these vegetarian products to use based on presence of cheese, honey, milk, butter, etc. in them. Please use the Search function in our Products Page and click on vegan for a list of Amy's items that are vegan.
- Q. Are Amy's products certified Kosher?
A. Yes, Amy's Kosher certification is from Rabbi Barnett Hasden of Ner Tamid K in Staten Island, NY. Amy's became certified in November of 2003.
All Amy's products are certified Kosher except for:
Thai Pad Thai
Burritos & Wraps:
Southwestern Black Bean Chili
Light & Lean:
Light & Lean Cheese Pizza
Light & Lean Italian Vegetable Pizza
Light & Lean Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Light & Lean Spinach Lasagna
Light and Lean Swedish Meatless Meatballs Bowl
Light in Sodium:
Light in Sodium Lentil Vegetable Soup
Light in Sodium Vegetable Lasagna
Family Marinara Pasta Sauce
Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
Light in Sodium Family Marinara Pasta Sauce
Light in Sodium Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
4 Cheese Pizza
Single Serve Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Single Serve Rice Crust Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Lentil Vegetable Soup
Light in Sodium Lentil Vegetable Soup
Hearty Minestrone with Vegetables soup
Fire Roasted Southwestern Vegetable Soup
Black Bean Veggie Burger
Black Bean Tamale Verde
While shopping for Amy's products, you may not see the appropriate Kosher symbol on all certified products at this time. As packaging is regularly updated, the appropriate symbol will be added.
- Asian Meals:
- Q. What is a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is a person who abstains from eating meat, fish or poultry. There are several subcategories of vegetarians.
Lacto-Ova vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry but do eat eggs and dairy.
Lacto vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs, but do eat dairy. Most of Amy's products are lacto vegetarian.
Pure Veg or Vegans do not eat any animal products, including dairy and sometimes honey. Amy's has several suitable dishes that are vegan.
- Q. How is Amy's Kitchen vegetarian?
Our company is deeply committed to producing and selling great tasting vegetarian food. This is not a 'marketing gimmick’ with us; rather it's a reflection of who we are and how we live. Amy's is a family business, and we are a vegetarian family.
Amy is a third generation vegetarian who has never eaten any sort of meat in her life. Amy's Grandfather was the first to become a vegetarian in 1968. Her mother, Rachel, became a vegetarian at 16 when she realized that the lamb chop she was eating was once a live lamb. When she and her brother Joel stopped eating meat as teenagers, their mother was afraid they would get sick and die from malnutrition. They didn't, and she soon joined them in following a meatless diet. This wasn't as easy to do in the 70's as it is in the 21st century.
Before Amy's Kitchen was set up in 1988, there were no convenient frozen meals in the marketplace that vegetarians could eat. Restaurants offered not much more than cheese sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes. Vegetarian airline and train travelers usually had to bring their own food.
Things have changed. Nowadays, all natural food stores and most supermarkets and grocery stores carry large selections of vegetarian frozen and grocery items suitable for vegetarians. Restaurants often have at least one vegetarian dish on the menu and airlines have several choices. (Continental Airlines and Amtrak even offer some Amy's Kitchen products.)
- Q. How does Vegetarian farming save resources?
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and contributes to animal suffering.
Between watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth in factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, the farmed animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply. Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.
It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.
While millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages, much of the world's water supply is quietly being diverted to animal agriculture. As the Western diet spreads to the rest of the world, even desert nations in Africa and the Middle East are pouring what little water they have into meat production.
It is clear that raising animals for food puts a tremendous strain on our already limited water supply, and water is used much more efficiently when it goes toward producing crops for human consumption. Source: Peta.org
- Q. Why don't vegetarians eat meat?
For health reasons: this runs the gamut from people with serious cholesterol problems and food allergies to those who say that vegetarian food 'just makes me feel better.'
Moral, ethical and religious concerns: people who feel that it is wrong to kill and eat animals. Young people, who generally love animals, abhor the idea of making them suffer and are disgusted by the thought of eating 'dead animals'. We often get letters from children who as early as age six, suddenly realize that the hamburger they are eating was once a living calf, and refuse to eat meat again.
Environmental concerns and world hunger: a growing awareness that everything on this planet is interconnected, and the strong belief that there would be plenty of food for everyone if we were not raising animals to feed people.
- 1.3 billon people could be fed with the grain and soy beans eaten by U.S. livestock. The U.S. population is only 255,600,000.
- 80% of U.S. corn and 95% of U.S. oats are eaten by livestock.
- 90% of protein, 99% of carbohydrate and 100% of dietary fiber is wasted by cycling grain through animals.
- 64% of American agricultural land is used for live stock feed.
- An acre can yield 250 pounds of beef vs. 40,000 pounds of potatoes.
- A pound of feed lot beef takes 16 pounds of grains and soybeans.
- 15 total vegetarians can be fed on the same amount of land needed to feed one person on a meat-based diet.
- Q. Is Vegetarianism just a fad?
Vegetarianism has always existed and indeed is the normal way of life in many Eastern countries following religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Although many famous Westerners such as Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and George Bernard Shaw were vegetarians, until recently, vegetarianism has been thought of as a 'fringe' philosophy in the West, often ridiculed. In the 60s and 70s, however, many young people started turning in that direction, usually for moral and ethical reasons. Then in the late 80s and the 90s, medical research began to discover relationships between meat eating and certain life threatening diseases, and doctors started recommending that patients cut down on their meat consumption.
At present, according to various studies, there are more than 12 million people in the United States who consider themselves vegetarians. Many others make serious attempts to cut down on meat, and 'eat vegetarian' at least twice a week.
The City by the Bay Embraces Monday
San Francisco is known for touting innovative cuisine and healthy lifestyles. This past week, the city by the bay raised the bar in both arenas by becoming the first Meatless Monday city! The resolution passed by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors ensures that residents will gain greater access to healthy, meatless options while learning about the connection between what they eat and their health.
The resolution to make Mondays meatless was introduced by supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who hopes that residents will use this opportunity to make nutritious, sustainable choices. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors agreed that Meatless Monday is a smart way to start the week, passing the resolution unanimously! According to ABC news, Maxwell’s Meatless Monday declaration will “encourage restaurants, schools and grocery stores to offer plant-based options”.
We’d like to welcome San Francisco to the Meatless Monday movement! Hopefully other cities will follow their lead in encouraging residents to embrace a diverse, healthy diet. Meatless Monday is a simple way to bring awareness and preventative health to any community!
From Meatless Monday
- Q. Is Vegetarianism a healthy diet?
The American Dietetic Association has affirmed that a vegetarian diet can meet all known nutrient needs. However, not everyone's nutritional needs are the same. Experimentation and consultation with a doctor or health care professional can help determine what each individual should eat.
Generally speaking, the key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Most people should limit their intake of sweets and fatty foods.
While Amy's does not produce specific 'diet foods,' we do make every effort to see to it that our products are nutritionally balanced and will contribute to our customers' health and well being.
- Q. "Veg Out” in 10 Easy Steps
March 21, 2010 - Source: www.mambosprouts.com
"If you are thinking about going veg, here is some great information to get you started" Read the full article here.
We’re a decade into the new millennium, and going vegetarian has never been easier! Never before in human history have there been so many products for those of us wishing to avoid meat and animal-sourced foods. You may be surprised how easy it now is to find many popular vegetarian (and vegan!) options right on your supermarket’s shelves. And there are a variety of organizations eager to help you get started on the path to vegetarianism!
If you are interested in becoming a vegetarian, check out our top ten tips!
1. First, you must decide what kind of vegetarian you will be – based upon the types of foods that you do wish to eat.
The terms herbivore, omnivore and carnivore are often taken out of context and misunderstood. Instead, use terms which are very specific to help other people understand your choices.
- The most common type of vegetarian is the lacto-ovo variety. Lacto-ovo vegetarian people will eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, dairy products and eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat or fish. They also typically do not consume broth from animal foods, so if you decide to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian, make sure to ask about the broth before ordering the minestrone!
- From there, varieties of vegetarianism branch in many directions. Some are ovo-vegetarians, eating no animal-sourced foods other than eggs. Others are pescetarians, eating fish, but no meat, dairy or eggs. You can imagine the different varieties of vegetarianism, and choose for yourself.
2. Know the rules! Make sure to read up on exactly what you can and cannot eat for the type of vegetarian diet you choose. This is especially important with the strictest variety of vegetarianism, called veganism. To be vegan (pronounced vee-gan) is to choose only plant-sourced foods – fruits & vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Vegan people may also choose to supplement with meat-like packaged foods as well as dairy substitutes. To truly qualify as vegan, processed foods cannot contain gelatin from animal sources (including sealife) or honey (as it is sourced from bee activity) in a dish or in a product. Vegans also choose not to purchase products containing silk protein (because it is sourced from silkworm activity), beeswax (again, sourced from bee activity), lanolin (a waxy substance which naturally occurs on sheep’s wool as a water repellent), collagen, animal fur (like boar-bristle hairbrushes) and skin (like leather), or natural sponges (as in loofah type). Either plant-sourced or synthetic materials are preferred for a vegan lifestyle. Alcohol must also be vegan, and vegan wine is becoming more accessible.
3. Go slow!
Going cold turkey (no pun intended!) and giving up all meat and other animal-sourced foods might seem like the best thing to do when you first decide to become a vegetarian. But many vegetarians suggest taking your time, so that you don’t get sick. Because your body is accustomed to getting many of its nutrients from animal-sourced foods, completely cutting them out all at once can cause a shock to your system. To become vegetarian takes time – so if you decide to do it, you must be careful not to rush into it.
4. Don’t become a “junkitarian”.
Many processed foods qualify as vegetarian, but that doesn’t make them healthy. As any smarter vegetarian knows, avoiding animal-sourced foods does not justify eating junk food. You will not feel healthier if you choose to become a “junkitarian”! Eating a wide variety of fresh, seasonal produce, nuts, legumes and grains is important. Here is what Whole Foods Market, a great resource for vegetarians, has to say about becoming a vegetarian:
“Good planning and forethought are essential. While it’s true that several key nutrients found primarily in animal products cannot be obtained as easily from plant-based foods, there are ways to maximize your absorption and utilization of these important vitamins and minerals.”
5. A nutritionist’s advice, and vitamin and mineral supplements, can help maintain balance.
You may not take supplements now, but it’s important to consider the need for supplements if you begin to transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Talk to someone at the vitamin supply store or supplement counter at your favorite natural foods store to learn more about what vitamins and minerals you may need to supplement when switching to a vegetarian diet. Do not skip this step! For example, B12 is a common supplement for the vegan diet because it is otherwise only found in fish, eggs and dairy – and B12 is crucial for the health of your nervous system. Because it is bound to the protein in foods and released into the bloodstream by our natural stomach acids, make sure to ask if you should take the supplement with protein-based foods.
A nutritionist is an important resource whenever you are making a change in your diet – especially a drastic change like converting to vegetarianism and especially veganism. What we eat affects everything in our bodies and it is important to have a professional’s help when choosing to make this major change.
6. Talk to others.
Whenever you make a major life decision, you talk to others about it, right? Friends and family who are there for you, no matter what – those are the ones to discuss this with. They can help you by lending an ear and being supportive. They may have advice for you. You never know what they’ll say – you might be surprised to learn that Aunt Mildred was a vegetarian in the 70’s when she shares her story, or that your best friend has been considering the same thing for a while and wants to try it with you. You will never know until you ask. And find people who have been living the vegetarian lifestyle for a while. They will have experience to speak from that will be helpful to you.
7. Be prepared to slip up.
You won’t like this, but the best advice for anyone considering a diet change is to be ready to accept mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself if you give in to a meat craving. Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally eat something that was made with eggs. There is no point in getting upset over spilled milk (another pun!), just make sure you understand what happened so that you can learn from it. Remember that you’re making a lifestyle change and it can be permanent. That means it won’t always go the way that you’ve planned. Let life happen and try not to worry about it too much.
8. Simply start cooking!
Cooking is going to be absolutely essential to living without meat and other animal-sourced foods. In order to get a necessary amount of nutrients and vitamins, vegetarians must have a wide variety of plant foods on their plates at each meal. It’s vital to health that various vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and fruits are part of the diet. Knowing how to cook is going to make it much easier to access the nutrition needed for a healthy body on a vegetarian diet. If you’re unsure where to start, there are a plethora of cookbooks available aimed at vegetarians and vegans. Instead of spending money on new books, check the local library – chances are very high that you’ll find a vegetarian or vegan cookbook with an assortment of tasty recipes and easy instructions. Also, check out Vegetarian Times for a fabulous collection of vegetarian recipes!
9. Be careful to balance… and try new things!
One of the reasons to go slow when converting to a vegetarian lifestyle is to maintain balance. Relying too heavily on grains, soy-based foods, sugar-laden and processed foods can throw off your balance. You know better than to eat too much of one thing, no matter what diet you’re on – and a vegetarian or vegan diet is the same way. We all know that eating too many of the same kinds of foods can often lead to health problems. Variety is the key to balance. Want to know a secret? Make sure to stock your kitchen with color – red, green, yellow, orange and even purple! Fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and grains come in all shapes and sizes. So branch out and try something new!
10. Soaking & sprouting!
Have you ever experienced that indigestion or scratchy throat after eating raw almonds? Does consuming legumes leave you gassy and bloated? Switching to an all-plant diet means relying more heavily on these kinds of foods for protein. In order to get the most nutrition (and dramatically reduce an upset stomach), try soaking and sprouting grains, nuts and legumes. This is a traditional practice that is increasingly making a comeback. It’s easy to do and there are a variety of books and blogs that provide different techniques for different foods. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much better you’ll feel when eating these foods.
- Q. How nutritious is a vegetarian diet?
Protein: Vegetarians easily meet their protein needs by eating a varied diet, as long as they consume enough calories to maintain their weight. It is not necessary to plan combinations of foods. A mixture of proteins throughout the day will provide enough 'essential amino acids.'
(Click here for The American Dietetic Associations official position statement on vegetarianism.)
Good protein sources are: lentils, tofu, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, tempeh and peas. Many common foods such as whole grain bread, greens, potatoes, pasta, and corn quickly add to protein intake.
Iron: Good sources of iron are: dried beans, spinach, chard, beet greens, blackstrap molasses, bulgur, prune juice, and dried fruit. To increase the amount of iron absorbed at a meal, eat a food containing Vitamin C, such as citrus fruit or juices, tomato, or broccoli. Cooking food in iron cookware also adds to iron intake.
Calcium: Good calcium sources are: collard greens, broccoli, kale, low-fat dairy products, turnip greens, tofu prepared with calcium, and fortified soymilk.
Vitamin B12: The adult recommended intake for Vitamin B12 is very low. Vitamin B12 comes primarily from animal-derived foods. Fortified foods, such as some brands of cereal, nutritional yeast, soymilk, or soy analogs, are good non-animal sources. Check labels to discover other products that are fortified with Vitamin B12. Tempeh and sea vegetables may contain Vitamin B12, but their content varies and may be unreliable. To be on the safe side, if you are one of the few people who do not consume dairy products, eggs or fortified foods regularly, you can take a non-animal derived supplement. Much research still needs to be done on Vitamin B12 needs and sources.
- Q. Is vegetarianism good for children?
According to The American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can meet all nitrogen needs and amino acid requirements for growth. A vegan diet, to be on the safe side, should be well planned and probably include fortified soymilk.
- Q. Letters about vegetarianism
Under the recommendation of my Dr., I recently became a vegetarian. This was unfamiliar territory to me, after 33 years as a carnivore. Standing in the grocery I was at a loss. Until I came across an entiresection dedicated to this way of life. I grabbed everything I could. It all looked so scrumptious on the packaging. I have been fooled by that before and must admit my skepticism. However, I could not deny the drooling that was taking over my mouth by looking at the pictures. I am pleased to say my taste buds were not disappointed. Every weekly trip consists of tossing out the meat in my freezer to make room for Black Bean Enchiladas, Bean and Rice Burritos, Roasted Veggie Pizzas & Shepherd's Pie ( a new fav comfort food this time of year). So THANK YOU, for making this transition as tasty and easy as possible. I am proud to be a vegetarian and pleased with my choices that afford me the opportunity to be one!
Love your dinners. I'm glad you're out there making the food industry take notice.
Wanted to share this story with you. We've eaten your Mexican dinners at home for a long time now. One day my husband was at the grocery store he called me and said "I found the Amy's dinners but I can't find the ones I eat, the ones with meat in them". I didn't realize until that moment that he didn't know they didn't have meat in them. I said "dear, they don't have meat in them". He said "Mine do" I said "no they don't". It was hilarious. He's been more open to food without meat ever since, not a lot more open but some. But let me tell you he really wasn't before that. Thought you might get a kick out of that! We've since tried many of your dinners. Keep up the good work. Thanks.
- Q. Vegetarian Resources
365 Good Reasons to Be a Vegetarian
by Victor Parachin, John Wincek
A Vegetarian Sourcebook
by Keith Akers
Vegan & Vegetarian FAQ
by Davida Gypsy Breier, Nutrition section by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant
by Claire Criscuolo, Julie Bidwell
Claire’s Corner Copia
by Claire Criscuolo
Claire’s Italian Feast : 165 Vegetarian Recipes from Nonna’s Kitchen
by Claire Criscuolo
Conveniently Vegan, Turn Packaged Foods into Delicious Vegetarian Dishes
by Debra Wasserman
The Vegetarian Feast
by Martha Rose Shulman
Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
by Editors of Vegetarian Times (Editor), Lucy Moll (Contributor)
- Q. What are trans fats?
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or trans fats are formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable fat is used by food processors because it is solid at room temperature and has a longer shelf life.Recent research indicates that consumption of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable fats and oils can play a role in the development of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health-related issues. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that individuals minimize their consumption of trans fats. Artificially produced trans fats can be found in products such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines (especially margarines that are harder), crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Q. Does Amy’s Kitchen use Trans Fats?
Products made from vegetables, fruits and grains have no trans fats. Because Amy’s Kitchen uses only natural ingredients, there are no partially hydrogenated oils in any of our products. Amy’s uses only finest natural and organic ingredients so that all our products contain no additives, no preservatives, no GMOs and 0g of trans fat.
Most trans fats in the American diet are formed when vegetable oils are chemically changed to give them a longer shelf life, but trans fats do occur naturally in small amounts in some foods, including dairy products. Amy's products with dairy ingredients have a very low level of naturally occurring trans fats. The level is so low (less than 0.5 grams/serving) that the FDA has defined them as having "0 grams" trans fat.
- Q. Are all fats bad?
Fat is a major source of energy for the body and aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Both animal and plant-derived food products contain fat, and when eaten in moderation, fat is important for proper growth, development, and maintenance of good health. As a food ingredient, fat provides taste, consistency, and stability and helps us feel full.
While unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are beneficial when consumed in moderation, saturated fat and trans fat are not. Therefore, it is advisable to choose foods low in both saturated and trans fats as part of a healthful diet. For more about the role of fats in the diet visit the American Heart Association website.
- Q. Why are trans fats harmful?
According to Dr. Mary Enig, who has been researching trans fats since 1977, consumption of trans fatty acids from partially hydrogenated vegetable fats and oils has many adverse effects on health and may play a role in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, immune system problems, reproduction and lactation issues, and obesity.
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) states that metabolic studies have shown trans fats to have adverse effects on blood lipid levels – increasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This combined effect on the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol is double that of saturated fatty acids. These factors contribute to the risk of developing coronary heart disease, the number-one cause of death in the U.S.
- Q. Why are trans fats so prevalent in processed foods?
The hydrogenation process creates desirable features, such as spreadability, texture, “mouth feel,” and increased shelf life, making them perfect for use in commercially-baked goods and fast foods.
Commercial production of partially hydrogenated fats began in the early 20th century and increased steadily until the 1960s as processed vegetable fats displaced animal fats in the American diet and other Western countries. Today, these fats are used in such popular foods as margarine, chips, salad dressings, cookies and French fries.
As of January 1, 2006, all consumer packaged goods are required to list the amount of trans fats in their products on a separate line on the nutrition panel. Click Here to read more about the FDA’s new regulations on trans fat labeling.
- Q. Where can i find more information on Trans Fats?
Washington Post, 9/10/03
Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)
- Q. Where can I buy Amy's products?
- Q. I saw some items on your site that my local Amy's vendor does not carry. What should I do?
A. Most natural food stores carry a large variety of Amy's products, but may not carry all of them because of limited space. Supermarkets often carry a limited amount of Amy's items. If you would like to see a particular Amy's product carried by your local store, we suggest you contact the frozen foods buyer in that store and ask them to consider selling the product you are interested in. In some cases, stores will special order items they do not carry for consumers. It never hurts to ask!
- Q. What is organic certification? Are all Amy's products 100% organic?
A. Organic certification is the process by which independent third party certifiers (such as Quality Assurance International, California Certified Organic Farmer's, Oregon Tilth, etc) check the records and practices of a farmer or processor and certify that their products are being grown and processed in accordance with the USDA's National Organic Program. The National Organic Program took effect on October 21, 2002 and established national standards for organic practices and labeling. These standards serve to define the term "organic" in the same way through all states. All organic certifiers now have to be recognized by the USDA.
Amy's Kitchen is certified by Quality Assurance International. Our products are either "organic," which means they contain 95+% organic ingredients (excluding water or salt) or "made with organic ingredients," which means they contain 70 — 95% organic ingredients. Quality Assurance International is accredited to certify organic operations under the new National Organic Program.
- Q. Can I buy your products directly from you? Can I buy them online?
A. Amy's Kitchen products are available to the public at natural foods and grocery stores, warehouse and club stores, and leading supermarkets throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Amy's is available online through various retailers or online shopping services. Check our Buy Online section to see if an online vendor delivers in your area.
- Q. Can I buy stock in Amy's Kitchen? Is Amy's publicly traded?
A. No, Amy's Kitchen is a family business that is privately owned and operated.
- Q. What is Amy’s Human Rights Policy?
Amy’s is dedicated to human rights, ethical actions and transparent policies of integrity. This applies to all sourcing and production processes.
Amy’s is committed to operating in a socially responsible, ethical manner at all times and to maintaining the company’s reputation with the public and within the industry, of being a company of high integrity and holding a leadership role in the organic foods world.
Amy’s believes in the protection and advancement of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) issued by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948 and in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labor Organization (ILO), adopted by the International Labor Conference of June 18, 1998.
All our company policies reflect these core values and ethical standards.
Amy’s Kitchen does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, or veteran status. This applies to recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, disciplinary practices and other terms and conditions of employment.
Discrimination against any employee or applicant for employment is a serious violation of equal employment opportunity law and of Amy’s Kitchen policies. It is the responsibility of every supervisory employee to ensure that discrimination does not occur and for every employee to report violations to our policy or the law.
Amy’s Kitchen will take action to ensure that qualified applicants are given equal opportunity to be employed and promoted. All personnel actions and company-sponsored programs shall continue to be administered on a nondiscriminatory basis. Violations of policy will be reviewed, investigated, and appropriate action taken based on the facts.
Health, Environment and Safety
Amy’s Kitchen is committed to ensuring the health, safety and well being of our employees, the people living and working in communities near our facilities, and the environment.
As part of this commitment, Amy’s Kitchen uses natural, and organically-grown vegetarian ingredients from environmentally responsible supplies and ensures that employees and contractors work safely and comply with company policies and the law, to prevent pollution and to protect the environment. Training is provided to our employees on these company policies and legal requirements.
For our employees, in addition to established employee healthcare insurance coverage, Amy’s has on-site Family Health Centers for employees and their families at its production facilities in order to provide convenient access to high quality health services.
No Tolerance of Harassment and Violence
Amy’s Kitchen is committed to providing our employees with a nondiscriminatory work environment free of any type of harassment per company policy and the law. Supervisory employees must report and collaborate with the investigation of all complaints of harassment and employees are advised on their responsibility to report violations. The company will take appropriate disciplinary actions for violation of policy or law.
All verbal and physical threats of violent behavior are unacceptable and should be reported as outlined in the Amy’s Kitchen Workplace Violence Policy. Every report of violence or threats of violence will be investigated. Employees who engage in violence or threats of violence will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment as well as criminal prosecution.
The Rights of Employees
Amy’s Kitchen firmly believes that a work environment should be freely chosen and free of threats. Amy’s Kitchen does not use forced or compulsory labor. Workers at Amy’s are recruited and receive competitive wages and benefit packages. Amy’s Kitchen will not use child labor. Amy’s Kitchen respects the rights of children and believes that they should to be protected from economic exploitation, and from work that is dangerous to their health and morals, or which may hamper their development. Amy’s Kitchen recognizes and respects employees’ rights and freedoms to choose whether or not to join third party organizations, to associate freely, and to bargain collectively.
Amy’s mission regarding employees is to nurture a family environment where employees enjoy their jobs, feel that they are listened to and are well cared for.