We’ve all been there: we’re at dinner, sitting across from someone we want to impress, casually glancing over the menu when our anxiety levels raise. The panic doesn’t come from our bosses asking us to work weekends or our dates telling us they’re married but rather those pesky, hard-to-pronounce ingredients listed on menus. “I’m vegan,” we tell ourselves, “I’m supposed to know these things!” We don’t even think about scouring the back of every label—twice—to make sure there is no lactose or casein. We search the internet for superfood supplements and eschew beauty products with retinol or shellac. And still, we have no idea how to pronounce one of the most popular vegan cheese brands in existence.
Fear not, fellow unsure vegans: we’re here to help. For those of you who stopped referring to the Oxford English Dictionary the day you graduated college, VegNews has created a guide to help you pronounce popular menu items. We might not get you Saturdays off or your future partners to divorce their current partners, but we can make sure you order a seitan sandwich covered in Daiya and Vegenaise with conviction.
This seaweed extract used as a thickener and stabilizer is not as hard to pronounce as it looks. The g is hard as in grape, not “gee” like “gee whiz.”
Daiya may be a to-die-for cheese replacement, but the first syllable in this name sounds like day, as in, Daiya makes it easy to eat cheese everyday.
This ancient Peruvian superfood shares the first four letters of macaroni, but don’t pronounce it that way. Instead, pretend you’re about to belt out a verse of Macarena to get the pronunciation right. Just don’t blame us if you start dancing.
It’s just silly to pronounce the p at the beginning of this fiber supplement.
Chances are, you’ve mispronounced this to make it span three rather than two syllables but were corrected by a good friend. But in case you still stutter and sweat when you see this ancient grain on the menu, we’ll help you remember how to say this word properly: this device will help you stay “keen” to eat quinoa.
With two pronunciations, it doesn’t matter which you choose, so long as you stress both syllables equally. Otherwise, people might think you worship a certain underdweller.
If you’re saying speer-a-leena, you’re not alone, but you’re not right, either. Spirulina starts with spy and rhymes with Carolina as in “North Carolina.” We probably won’t change our ways, though—this incorrect pronunciation is staying with us.
This mayo-replacement is vegan, but that’s not its name. The g is soft, pronounced similarly to the g in VegNews.
Cover photo by Kathy Patalsky