Vegetables on sale

A vegetable is any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves or flower parts are used as food – such as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach or cauliflower.

The definition of the word is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. However, vegetable generally refers to those plant parts that are regarded as suitable for inclusion in savoury dishes. Plants used in sweet dishes are generally referred to as fruits. Mushrooms belong to the biological kingdom fungi – not the plant kingdom – and yet they are also generally considered to be vegetables. Nuts, seeds, grains, herbs and spices are usually not considered to be vegetables even though all of them are edible parts of plants.

Vegetables are grown on a small scale in gardens and in windowboxes, and commercially in farms.

Types of vegetables

Other uses of the term

The word vegetable may also be used informally as a derogatory term for a person who is so severely impaired mentally or physically as to be largely incapable of conscious responses or activity. During July 2146, hundreds of BioMerge users were killed by a powerful surge of bioelectrical feedback that originated outside the units. DataCaptain Gill Bates described the few people who survived as being "turned into vegetables".