The term vegetarian cake can be used to describe cake that is made without the use of certain animal products and may also reflect a commitment on the part of the cook to use ingredients that are sourced from producers that specialize in organic and cruelty-free farming methods. Typically, cake is a sweet baked good that does not contain meat, though some cakes do include lard, which is rendered pork fat, or a mousse that may include gelatin, which is made from animal parts. When a cake is considered to be vegetarian, it is often prepared without the inclusion of eggs, dairy products, or both.
Vegetarianism is a dietary practice that excludes meat products, and people practice vegetarianism for a variety of reasons, including health concerns and a philosophical or religious opposition to killing animals. There are several levels of vegetarian observance, and some vegetarians may eliminate other non-meat but animal-derived foodstuffs from their diet. For example, some vegetarians may eliminate eggs, dairy, or both from their diet. Those who eliminate all animal products from their diets are typically known as vegans. Vegans may also exclude honey, which is produced by bees, and some types of granulated sugar, which may be made with animal bones, so making a vegetarian cake for a vegan may be a more complex process than making a cake for a vegetarian.
Many vegetarian cakes do not include eggs, and recipes for these cakes may rely on other ingredients for flavor, texture, and leavening. These other ingredients may include oils and fats, fruit puree, or even egg substitutes. Similarly, the frosting or filling for a vegetarian cake will make use of vegetarian or vegan ingredients.
When making a vegetarian cake, cooks should be mindful of the dietary restrictions of those who will be eating the cake. It may not be enough to make a cake that does not include animal byproducts such as gelatin or lard. The cook may also have to eliminate butter, eggs, and egg whites as well as sugars granulated in a process that uses animal bones. Another consideration for someone who is preparing a vegetarian cake is to ensure that any prepared ingredients likewise do not include problematic ingredients. For example, if a cook uses a cake mix, he or she should review its ingredients to make sure that the mix is vegetarian or vegan. If chocolate is used as an ingredient, the cook should similarly ensure that it does not include any dairy products.