Knowing the names of vegetables in English may come in handy in various situations. You will be able to read a menu at a restaurant and know exactly what you are ordering, you can follow a recipe from an English cooking show that you like, or you can ask for a particular vegetable whenever you go to a grocery store (without having to mimic!). Keep reading to learn what is the difference between a legume and a vegetable and to find some tips on how to correctly pronounce the word ‘vegetable’. You will also be able to download a free PDF of vegetable flashcards and you will learn more about plant-based diets.
How to pronounce the word ‘vegetable’
Let’s start off with the basics. Some English learners struggle with pronouncing the word ‘vegetable’. If you also think it is a difficult word to say out loud, you are not the only one.
The right way to pronounce it is by repeating these sounds: vej-tuh-bl.
The most common mistake is to break the word into two: ‘veg’ and ‘table’. If you say ‘table’ as we pronounce the word referring to the furniture (tay-buhl), you will make a mistake.
Say it out loud: vej-tuh-bl. Now try to say it faster and you will pronounce it the right way: vegetable.
Shopping for vegetables with me
If you haven’t read my bio down below, let me introduce myself real quick. I’m Bruna and I am a writer for the PrepEng blog. I live in Southern Brazil and I took you guys shopping for vegetables with me in the video below. Hit play and learn the names of the vegetables with pictures!
Legume or vegetable?
Vegetables, also referred to as ‘veggies’, are plants or a part of a plant that we use as food. We can say that veggies come from many different parts of the plant, such as leaves, flowers, stems and roots.
Legumes, on the other hand, are the seeds of the plant. Examples of legumes are: green peas, green beans, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
We will now explore the different types of vegetables. We can separate them in some categories: root vegetables, leafy greens, head or flower vegetables, fungi, and peas and beans. In order to make it easier for you to learn the names of the vegetables in English, we will also talk about two other families of vegetables: the onion and the squash family.
Categories of vegetables
What’s your favorite vegetable? How often do you eat them? Let’s take a look at the different categories of vegetables to help you answer these questions.
Root vegetables grow underground. Because of that, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes are all considered root vegetables.
You can’t have a salad without them. They are great for you, since they are packed with vitamins, fiber and minerals but super low on calories. Lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, spinach, arugula, and kale are some examples of leafy greens. There are different types of lettuce: leaf lettuce, which come in three colors (green, red and oak), romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, Boston lettuce, and Bibb lettuce.
Head or flower vegetables
Broccoli is my favorite vegetable. It is an example of what we call a head vegetable. Artichokes and cauliflower are also part of this category. They are great sources of Vitamin C and K. I love eating them roasted. Some people prefer to steam them.
I always have onions at home. They are usually the first thing I get from the fridge when I start prepping to cook. However, there isn’t only one type of onion. Besides white onions, we have red onions, shallots, leeks, and green onions (also known as scallions).
Besides pumpkin, we also have zucchini, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and Kabocha squash as part of the Squash family.
You may know the fungi family as mushrooms. Some mushroom varieties are shitake, portobello, enokitake, white ear, and button. Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin B, which are good for healthy skin and to help prevent heart disease.
Peas and beans
This family consists of peas, snow peas, green beans, and wax beans. Pinto beans, kidney beans, and balck-eyed beans are also part of this family.
Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices are not considered vegetables, but since they go along so well with vegetables we will talk about them here.
Ask anybody who loves cooking and they will tell you that the right herbs and spices do make a difference. I know I use several different herbs and spices when I cook and I don’t know how to cook without them.
Here are some of the most common herbs and spices you should know the name of in English.
- Star anise
Cooking verbs related to vegetables
When you start prepping for cooking, you are probably going to cut your veggies. In order to do so, you will need a chopping board and a good knife. These are the verbs we use to talk about how we cut vegetables in the kitchen:
- To cut: this is the most general verb you can use. It means to separate or divide something by using a knife. Example: Can you cut these vegetables for me?
- To chop: this is the most common verb to use when talking about vegetables. It means to cut into small pieces. Example: I need to chop those spring onions.
- To peel: we use this verb to refer to the action of removing the skin of fruits and vegetables. Remember that you can use the skins of the vegetables to make broths. Example: She needs to peel those sweet potatoes.
- To dice: to cut something into small and square pieces. Example: He doesn’t know how to dice a carrot.
- To slice: to cut something into thin and flat pieces. Example: John, can you slice the tomatoes? I want to make a salad.
British English versus American English: names of vegetables
We have talked about some of the differences between British English and American English here on the PrepEng blog before. When it comes to vegetables, there are also some differences. Remember that both are correct.
|British English||American English|
|Spring onions||Green onions|
I’m sure you have heard about the terms ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’. The vegetarians follow a plant-based diet. People who follow a vegan diet are more strict and they don’t consume any animal foods or products.
One can decide to stop eating meat and focusing on consuming more vegetables and adding plant proteins to a diet in order to be more healthy. Plant-based diets are associated with reduced risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity.
According to the Nielsen report published in 2018, 40% of Americans are shifting toward eating more plant-based foods. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean somebody is ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan. Some people can be ‘semi-vegetarian’, which means they follow a plant-based diet but occasionally eat eggs, dairy, and meat products. It is also possible to be ‘lacto-ovo-vegetarian’, which means they are vegetarian but do consume milk, dairy and eggs. Besides those, there is also the ‘pescatarian’, which are people who are mostly vegetarian, but still eat seafood.
Tofu, chickpeas, and more
If following a plant-based diet is something you are interested in doing, you should know that you don’t have to eat vegetables only. There are some plant-based alternatives to meat, such as tofu, which is very popular in Asia. Tofu is made using soaked soybeans. Another common alternative to meat is soy protein. It is inexpensive and usually sold as mince, cutlets, or balls. You can use soy protein to make burgers, meatballs, and bolognese, for instance.
Tempeh is also becoming popular among those who are trying to follow a plant-based diet. Popular in Indonesia, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans.
Chickpeas are also a great alternative to meat. If you have ever had hummus, you probably know it is made out of chickpeas. They contain more protein than some types of meat, besides having lots of iron, calcium, and fiber.
Being able to talk about food in English is very important for anyone who is learning the language. Now you know the English vegetables vocabulary; make sure to check out our guide about names of fruits in English.