VASELINE (PETROLATUM).—A distillation product of petroleum. It is a yellowish, transparent substance, of the consistency of lard, and having a faint odour of petroleum. It is used as a bland dressing in the case of mild burns or other local inflammations of no special significance, and as a basis for ointments. In the form of pills it is sometimes used in chronic diseases of the respiratory apparatus. The liquid vaseline is of value as a local application to inflamed mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, etc.
VEGETABLES.—In the scientific sense all plants are vegetables ; but in the usual meaning the term embraces only such herb's, or parts of herbs, as are used for food. Such food vegetables may be divided into three principal groups : (r) Root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, beets, onions, carrots, parsnips, radishes, etc.) ; (2) leaf vegetables (cabbage, spinach, lettuce, sorrel, parsley, etc.) ; and (3) fruit vegetables (legumes, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.). In the last-named group may be included also blossom vegetables, such as artichokes, cauliflower, etc.
All vegetables contain a large amount of water, and an abundance of salts and aromatic substances, some of which are essential aids to the diges tion. On the other hand, they contain only relatively small amounts of nutritive material. Nevertheless, vegetables are of the greatest importance as contributing to the necessary variety of the food, and as stimulating the appetite by appealing to the senses of taste and smell. Moreover, the salts
which they contain are indispensable for the structure and normal activity of the various organs. Because of their hulk, vegetables are of value also in allaying hunger, thus furnishing an essential addition to more nourishing, but less filling dishes.
Since the value of many vegetables partly depends upon the nutritive salts which they supply to the body, it is necessary to see to it that this valu able quality be not lost in cooking. One should not go to ridiculous lengths in this matter, however. Above all, vegetables should be carefully cleaned. This is of the utmost importance, as many vegetables, through manure, may be contaminated with the eggs of intestinal worms. As a rule, vegetables should be cooked only in that amount of water in which they are to be served. The water in which such vegetables as asparagus or cauliflower have been cooked, may advantageously be utilised in soups. To cook vegetables by steaming is advisable ; whereas the vegetarian method of mincing them, and then stewing them in fat, is not suitable for all stomachs. Moreover, a disagreeable taste of iron is imparted to vegetables by mincing. See also the articles on FOODSTUFFS and VEGETARIANISM.