Archive for the ‘The Truth about Vegetarinism’ Category

The strange question that vegetarians or vegans hear most of the time is : “ohhh you need proteines,  you cant live without eating meat nor fish, you cant be in good health if you dont eat red bloodded meat..” and some other cliches that the food industries ancher in consumers ‘ brains  (with the help of the medical boddy).   I am not that good at explaining why I chose to stop cooking and eating animal meats. It took me ages to become what I am,  it took me ages to understand that if I liked my world, if I loved the animals and all the living creatures that share this planet with us, the first thing to do was to stop eating dead animals. 
My researches led me to be informed about the cruelty done to the animals in the name of profit and of greed : I could learn that slaughterhouses were hell for the animals, that the walls of the laboratories hide the experimentations done on living innocent creatures.  It was not easy at first to get off meat complety, then as time went by it became more and more obvious that if I wanted to live in harmony with my beliefs, I had to stop considering my body as a graveyard… hosting dead animals.   this is a crude image, however it is exactly what our bodies are if we eat cadavers of dead animals.  Any living creature that is dead becomes a corpse right ?
Finally I grew a passion for vegan cooking, to realise that there were so many food that could be cooked, so many yummy dishes that could end up on our table, and that no animals had to die or suffer to satisfy me and my familly.   The discovery was something so important that my life changed completely.  I got rid of all the people who did not understant the philosophy of true compassion, kept away from the hypocrisy of humans who claim that they love the animals but who go on taking part in the cruel chain of the meat and milk industries .. the hypocrisy is very disturbing indeed.  Generally speaking I never try to convince anyone to change his habits as it is always a matter of private choice,  I believe that each man makes progress according to his spiritual understanding of our world. Most philosophers are/were vegans,  they consider the animal sufferings and deaths as unacceptable.
21st century, and yet never had the animals to suffer so much,  if we dont take steps to take part in the changes, to be the changes, our world has little chance to survive all the tragedies that hit our planet.
I woke up thinking that I should write a book about this,  unfortunately time always seems too short to do everything one wants to do.  Then I realised that someone had already written the lines I would have liked to write.  Here is the complete e-book by Rudy Hadisentosa  in 5 blogs of 4 chapters each,  that replies to most of the questions about vegetarian diet. 
Anyone who wants to learn more about vegetarinism and how to become healthy, lead a successful life  should also read our friend Mike Adams,  the Health Ranger  (he is very cute ) on NaturalNews .  I have known Mike Adams for over 10 years now,  he has become the nightmare of the pharmaceutical, meat, milk industries in the USA.. I really like that guy who not only looks so cute, but is a completed sportsman .. and vegan.  This is Mike’s video : “The World’s first Bionic Burger”
I would advise anyone who wants to progress towards a vegan diet to seek medical advice (the best is to find a vegan medical practitioner in your area).
Yummy vegan receipes are on Myspace Jardin Vegan  (French) – Within a year, I crated most of the receipes,  making it possible to cook meals that would look like traditional meals, just by making up “steaks”, roasts  like this ones.  Most people hesitate to keep off meat because they dont know what to cook otherwise. Now here it is,  I hope that my receipes will inspire you as they are inspiring hundreds of compassionate people who have become vegan. 
No animals had to suffer or to die for these meals :  Vegan “steak”  and Vegan “Roast” (same way as for Peking Roasted duck)
The slide of my vegan receipes  Anouk’s Vegan Cooking
Now if you are one of my close friends,  if you read the e-book with interest,  but you cant make the switch.. you will still remain my friend  
You could consider keeping off meat one day in the week.. the world was never changed overnight. 
Despite of all the bad things happening in this world, despite of the mean people who crossed my way,  despite of humans cruelty,  I feel blessed to have my familly and my trustworthy  friends in my life. My life is perfect now.
Love and blessings… The 20 chapters of the e-book are posted in 4 blog parts. Enjoy !

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The Truth About Vegetarinism
20 Chapters
Rudy’s Introduction

The e-book was made to help people like you who really want to be a vegetarian or a vegan to successfully become one. To help you cope with any problems that arise during the transition, to help you to find the sense of purpose, to give you all the facts behind the ” Normal ” lifestyle, to help you in everything that I can so that you fully realize how meaningful it is to be a vegetarian.

Its not just about not eating meat, but its about the real you, the compassionate one that has been buried inside your heart all these times. To do this transition that deep inside your heart , you know its really what you really want. The real you who are fighting against your will everyday when you know something its not right when you see the blood in the meat. Being a vegetarian is to show who you really are. To reflect the good qualities in your heart into everyday’s activities. To show what’s inside your heart to the world. The real you.

I understand that you have your own problem in changing your lifestyle whether it is lack of nutritions concern, diabetes , how to raise vegetarian kid, how to blend with the regular society, can’t resist meat temptation, or any others. I understand because i have read about 500 questions from people who really wants to become a vegetarian. So I know.

However, please remember that you are not alone. Other vegetarians-to be also have their own problems. The question is : Can you overcome your problem and win against yourself ? You should be – if not then there wouldnot be any vegetarians in this world ! Why ? Because at one time, they were just like you. They struggled with their problems but they defeat their old-self. Just think about this, there are already millions of vegetarians in our world, THIS should answer if you can become one or not. Are you any different from these people in the past ? Think about it

This is just my thought, but from my experience, you need to do 2 Things that will definitely make you a life long vegetarian.

The First One is Find Your Sense of Purpose. ( What is your real reason of why you want to become a vegetarian. More about this on chapter 4 )


IF you do these 2 things, you’ll definitely can become a vegetarian

 I sincerely wish for your success

Don’t Give Up,

Rudy Hadisentosa

Chapter 1 – Pesco, Ovo Lacto, and Vegan – Defining the Types of Vegetarians

To most meat-eaters, the vegetarian lifestyle is mysterious and confusing. Do they never eat animal protein at all? Does that include eggs and milk? Is it something they do for health reasons or because they love animals?  And how do they get enough protein in their diets if they don’t eat meat?

If you took a poll of vegetarians, you’d quickly discover that there are almost as many ways to be a vegetarian as there are, well, vegetarians. Some people claim to be vegetarians when really they’ve just cut back on the amount of animal products they consume. On the other end of the scale, there are vegetarians who eat no animal protein at all, or anything produced by animals – including milk, eggs and honey. So the first thing to consider when approaching the vegetarian lifestyle is exactly what kind of vegetarian you plan to be.

Vegetarian Diets – the Big Three

There are three main vegetarian diets, although variations abound in each category: Lacto Ovo vegetarian, Lacto vegetarian, and Vegan. Let’s take them one at a time and look at the differences:

A lacto ovo vegetarian eats mostly plant foods, but also eats eggs and dairy products including yogurt, milk, cheese and ice cream. This is the first step most people take when they switch to a vegetarian diet, because it’s easy to fulfill all your nutritional requirements and, well, everything tastes good when you cover it with cheese! It’s also an easy diet to maintain in the “real world,” as there are always restaurant choices – including fast food options – so no matter where you are or who you’re with, you can always find something to eat.

Lacto vegetarians eat no meat or eggs, but do consume dairy products. While acceptable dairy substitutes have become much more palatable in recent years, it can still be difficult to avoid dairy entirely, and it makes cooking much more challenging. Many lacto vegetarians don’t eat eggs because, as ovum, they’re potentially animals. Or they choose not to eat eggs because they’re uncomfortable with egg farming practices (more on that later).  Conversely, there are ovo vegetarians, who eat eggs but don’t consume dairy products.

Vegans eschew all animal proteins and animal by-products. This is the most extreme form of vegetarian diet, as vegans get all of their nutrition from grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. And vegans must avoid a large number of commercially produced foods that contain animal proteins – most breads are made with eggs, for example, and many non-dairy products are thickened with casein, a protein extracted from milk. Even vegetarian “burgers” often contain eggs! Despite the challenges, the vegan diet has steadily grown in popularity in recent years as more and more vegetarians have become savvy label-readers and vegan-friendly food companies have created more products for them to enjoy.

In addition to the three basic vegetarian diets, there’s also macrobiotics, a diet inspired by ancient Chinese principle of yin and yang which relies primarily on locally produced, seasonal foods. The basic macrobiotic diet includes fish – but remove the fish and the diet is vegan, with most macrobiotic cookbooks heavily favoring Asian-influenced cuisine and the use of ingredients like pickled vegetables, daikon radishes and sea vegetables like kelp and nori.

This isn’t to say that you’re required to sign up for any one style of vegetarian diet and follow it to the letter. Pesco vegetarians, for example, don’t eat poultry, beef or pork but they do eat fish. The so-called “semi-vegetarian” has cut back on their intake of meat overall, but still eats it occasionally – if you’re reading this, that’s probably where you are already! Pollo vegetarians avoid red meat and fish but eat chicken. while the pesco-pollo vegetarian avoids red meat but consumes both chicken and fish.  There are even fruitarians, who only eat seeds, nuts and fruit, plus vegetables that are botanically classified as fruit like zucchini, eggplant, squash and avocados. And there are other diets that, while vegetarian in nature, further restrict consumption of certain foods depending on the diet’s purpose – the raw food diet requires that you only eat uncooked foods, and the “natrural-hygeine” diet, while making limited use of animal products, is designed to cleanse the body of toxins and the allowed foods are chosen accordingly.But don’t let all of that confuse you! As a newcomer to vegetarianism, you should first set your sights on the three primary types of the diet – ovo lacto, lacto and vegan. Once you’ve discovered which of these best meets your needs, then you can decide if you want to adapt them even further, adding or subtracting as you see fit. For the most part, labeling your diet is less important than figuring out how to transition from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian one.

CHAPTER 2 – A Brief History of Vegetarianism – How It Started and What It All Means

When you think of early man, odds are that the first image that pops into your mind is that of spear-carrying Neanderthal dragging a large, dead animal home to his cave for dinner. We’ve long held onto the erroneous notion that our ancestors were mighty warriors, taking down gigantic beasts with their bows, arrows and flint knives, and tearing into meat as their primary source of nourishment.

But the truth is more complicated than that. Certainly there were eras in human history when meat was a staple – during the Ice Age, for example, the ground was so cold and hard that vegetation was difficult to find, so that Neanderthal was forced to hunt down meat to fill his grumbling tummy. But the very earliest humans were more gatherer than hunter and actually scavenged the remains of animals that were killed by other predators, essentially gleaning from others’ roadkill. Studies by anthropologists indicate that early man was far more interested in feasting on the nutrient-rich bone marrow of found animals rather than on their flesh, using tools to cut away the meat not to eat it, but to remove it from the desired bones.

No, early man’s diet consisted of what he could find growing where he lived – vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. By combining those, and relying primarily on a diet of calcium-rich wild greens, he was able to get all of the vitamins, iron, protein, fats and carbohydrates that he needed. Animals had yet to be domesticated, so the only meat our ancestors had to eat was either what they chased down or found lying about – gathering nuts and seeds was simply more productive than counting on being able to catch and cook an animal by supper time. Eventually, man developed agriculture, raising vegetables and grains, and domesticating animals for meat and dairy. But before that time, some 10,000 years ago, man relied heavily on that which he could pluck from trees, bushes and the ground, and his diet was about 90 percent plant food. So toss out the idea that man is at heart a carnivore – we are, in fact, omnivores, able to eat meat but certainly nor required to by our biology or our history.

The Pythagorean Credo

By the time that man’s adventures were being jotted down in scriptures and testaments, meat-eating had become commonplace – but there were still those who advised against the practice. In the Old Testament’s book of Daniel, it was set down that Daniel refused the wealthy  King Nebuchadnezzar’s feast of rich foods, meat and wine, asking for only vegetables and water for 10 days. At the end of that period, Daniel asked that his health and that of his companions be compared to those who indulged in the fare of the king’s table, and Daniel’s group was deemed “better in appearance and fatter in flesh” than those who ate the king’s diet. The parable was intended to show that Daniel was a smart, strong iconoclast, able to assert himself in the presence of a king, but it also serves as one of the earliest records of the superiority of a vegetarian lifestyle – and how going against the meat-eating norm was, even then, considered an act of rebellion!

But the earliest vegetarian diet, way back in the sixth century B.C. and long before the term “vegetarian” was coined, was the Pythagorean Diet. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras, famous for his contributions to geometry and mathematics, strongly believed in the reincarnation of the soul and preached an ethical lifestyle that included injunctions against killing living creatures, whether through animal sacrifice or for the eating of meat. His proscribed diet was very close to today’s vegan diet, and attracted two different classes of adherents. One group, an elite group who studied directly under Pythagoras called mathematikoi (“mathematicians”  followed an extremely restricted regimen, eating only cereals, bread, honey, fruits and some vegetables. A larger group of followers called the akousmatikoi (“listeners” who attended lectures by the philosopher were allowed to eat meat and drink wine, but were required to abstain on certain days.

According to historical documents, Pythagoras told his followers, “Oh, my fellow men! Do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have corn, we have apples bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on the vines. There are sweet-flavored herbs, and vegetables which can be cooked and softened over the fire, nor are you denied milk or thyme-scented honey. The earth affords a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter:  only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle, and sheep live on grass.” His biographer, Diogenes, wrote that Pythagoras ate millet or barley bread and honeycomb in the morning and raw vegetables at night, and that he paid fisherman to throw their catches back into the ocean.

The Pythagorean diet – which the philosopher claimed had been taught by the goddess Demeter to Heracles, who taught it to him – became known as that of intellectuals and rebels, and was banned by Rome. But in the smaller, outlying Greek states, the Pythagorean diet was more acceptable and found a wide share of adherents. And Pythagoras wasn’t the only philosopher to advise that a vegetarian lifestyle was healthier and more ethical than a meat-eating diet – Hippocrates, Socrates, Plato, Seneca, Ovid and Virgil all advocated vegetarian diets. Throughout the times that followed, Pythagoras’ teachings, included his diet, retained its advocates, even seeing a resurgence of popularity in Europe during the 17th century when a devout Christian named Thomas Tryon read the works of the German mystic Jacob Böhme and started a Hindu vegetarian society in London.

CHAPTER 3 – Ethical Eating – Why Becoming a Vegetarian is Good for You and for the Earth

Some people become vegetarians because they simply find meat unappetizing – chewing and digesting hunks of animal flesh isn’t their idea of fine dining. And that’s a perfectly valid reason to embrace a meatless lifestyle. But for many others, vegetarianism is part of their commitment to living theirs lives with as much environmental, moral and political responsibility as possible – and becoming a vegetarian is a natural part of that resolve.

In fact, just because humans can digest meat and metabolize the protein, that doesn’t mean that we were designed to eat meat as a primary nutritional source. Yes, we can eat meat – but the way our bodies are built shows that we function more efficiently on plant foods. One clue is the design of our teeth. If you examine the teeth of true carnivorous animals, theirs are long, sharp and pointed in the front for the purpose of tearing away flesh. Our so-called “canine” teeth – the four teeth in the front corners of our mouths – are very poorly designed for the task when you compare them to the teeth of dogs, cats, lions and wolves.  Human teeth are short, blunt and only very slightly rounded on top – not designed to tear at meat at all! Similarly, the lower jaws of meat-eating animals open very wide but move very little from side-to-side, adding power and stability to their bite.  Like other plant-eating animals, our jaws not only open an close but also move forwards, backwards and side-to-side, designed to bite off pieces of plant matter and then grinding it into smaller pieces with our flat molars.

But the most important evolutionary development that sets humans apart from other animals is our huge, overdeveloped brain. We have the ability to choose what we eat and how we live – we aren’t just eating machines forced by the circumstances of nature to eat a specific diet. As a human, you can make decisions based on science, ethics, morals and good old fashioned common sense.

Every choice you make has repercussions, from the excess packaging that you toss in the trash (plastic and cardboard that ends up in a landfill) to the light bulbs that you use (most likely manufactured by a company that supplies nuclear triggers to bomb manufacturers). The food you choose to eat is no exception. In our industrialized Western world, meat appears in tidy wrapped packages in our grocer’s case so we don’t have to think about where it came from – the resources used to raise the animal, the additives pumped into feed to increase production, and the manner in which the animals live and die. But every time you buy meat, you support the system that created it – and chances are, you have no idea just what that entails!

CHAPTER 4 – Where Do I Begin? – Getting Started on Your Meatless Journey

If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously ready to change your life and become a vegetarian. But giving up meat – especially if you’ve become accustomed to making it your main source of protein – can be tough. You’ll find as you go along that it’s about more than just changing the foods that you eat – you’re going to have to adjust the way you think about nutrition, about your body and self-image, and about how your choices affect the world you live in. But it’s also a deeply personal voyage that’s yours to do in your own way, finding the path that will take you into the future in the healthiest, happiest way possible.

It may not be an easy transition, either. You may still love the taste of meat, and the idea of living your entire life without it is daunting. You may have family members who are resistant to making the change, and who’ll try to sabotage you for their own reasons. You’ll need to learn new recipes, plan new menus, and arm yourself with nutritional information that you never bothered with before. It’s a lot to think about!

It can all seem overwhelming, but with a plan, some structure and a little guidance it can be done by anyone. The most important thing is to be patient – allow yourself the time you need to develop new menus that you enjoy, try new recipes and discover new foods. Don’t think that becoming a vegetarian means that you’ll be spending countless hours wandering the aisles of natural foods stores and figuring out what to do with quinoa – unless you enjoy that sort of thing. The truth is, the easiest way to transition to a meatless diet is to eat foods easily available at your neighborhood grocery store – although you’ll definitely want to check out that health food store as you become more comfortable with your vegetarian lifestyle.

Finding a sense of purpose

To successfully change a lifelong habit like eating meat to the healthier habit of living entirely on plant-based foods, you’ll need a strong reason for changing. If you aren’t 100 percent sure of your reasons for becoming vegetarian,  you’ll find it hard to resist temptation.  Social pressure is often the undoing of new vegetarians – they’re completely committed when at home or eating out with another vegetarian, but give in to meat-eating when presented with a friend’s meat loaf or attending an outdoor BBQ. I was the same way – until I found a way of thinking that helped me to stick with the vegetarian lifestyle.

When I first started to become a vegetarian, I “fell off the wagon” many times.  I’d be a committed vegetarian for days, then give in to some form of temptation (I still craved KFC!), feel bad about myself, then try again. And again. I kept improving all the time, eventually sticking to my vegetarian diet for weeks at a stretch. I was sure I was successful when I stayed true to my new lifestyle for three months – and then a friend took me to a seafood buffet, and I gave into temptation yet again! I knew that I wanted to become a vegetarian because I hate the idea of killing animals for my food, but sometimes animal foods are very hard to resist.

 I wanted so badly to become a vegetarian, yet I kept failing. Why? How could I want to do this so much and still fail? After a lot of soul-searching, I found my reason to be a real vegetarian, and I’ve never looked back since. Once I knew, completely and with every part of my mind and my heart, why vegetarianism was so important to me, I was able to commit to it completely, and not have any desire to eat meat again!

Here’s the reason that I found works for me.  Like most people, I don’t want to be hurt, killed, or receive pain, and animals certainly don’t want those things either. They feel pain, just like we do. So isn’t it wrong to inflict pain and death on animals? Just because humans have better technology, we often believe that we’re superior to other living beings and we can do whatever we want to them.

In an earlier chapter, we discussed the concept of an alien race coming to earth and believing themselves to be superior to humans.  We would be nothing to them, beneath their respect  – much the same way we look at cows, pigs and chickens – so why wouldn’t they think, “These humans are a low, primitive species.  We can do whatever we want to them since they can’t fight back. We have complete control over them?” And if these aliens were meat-eaters, there would be nothing to stop them from herding us into pens, cutting off our feet and hands so that we can’t run or fight back, kill us in slaughterhouses and then eat us for their food. I mean, we taste great! So they kill millions of us every day, cut us up into steaks and chops, store the meat and sell it to each other in little white, plastic-wrapped packages.

It’s a horrible, horrible thought. Yet this is exactly the way we treat animals right now, because we believe we are superior to them and we have better technology.  But is this really the right way to treat other living beings? Just like, they feel happiness and fear, pleasure and pain. They just want to live.

Think about that. They just want to live. Who doesn’t want to live? What right does humanity have to decide the time and the manner in which an animal’s life should end?

That’s my personal reason for becoming a vegetarian. Once I came to the realization that harming and killing animals for my food was wrong – and completely unnecessary – I was no longer even tempted by meat. I found my reason to stay committed. My journey has ended.

And I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. You need to find your own reason that strikes such a strong chord with you intellectually emotionally that you never look back at your previous life. A reason that you believe so strongly, you’ll never regret the decision, because you know that it’s the right thing to do.

If you found my “alien” reasoning quite logical, whenever you have the temptation to eat meat again, please try to remember about it . Whatever reasoning you choose, make it something that you believe with your whole heart. Once you do, vegetarianism will be something that you can adopt completely, for your entire life.

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CHAPTER 5 – Vegetarian Nutrition – Getting Everything Your Body Needs

At this point you’re probably starting to get worried about how you’re going to make sure you get the right balance of nutrients that your body needs, and thinking that you’ll need a spreadsheet to keep track of everything you eat. But it’s not as difficult as it may seem from the outset – you just need to bone up on a few nutritional basics to keep in mind when you plan your meals.

Some people spend their entire lives studying the science of nutrition, but you don’t have to make it your life’s work. The truth is, despite what the meat industry repeatedly tells you, vegetarian diets aren’t nutritionally inferior to meat-based diets. There’s no need to worry that you’ll be lacking the vitamins, minerals and protein that your body needs. Which isn’t to say that it’s not possible to eat badly as a vegetarian – many people have lousy diets, even vegetarians. But if you eat smart, your vegetarian diet can be the healthiest way you’ve ever eaten.    

Protein – Am I Getting Enough?

Your first concern on starting a vegetarian way of life is that, without meat foods in your diet, you’ll lack protein. So you’ll be happy to discover that it’s almost impossible to eat too little protein on a vegetarian diet.

Protein is, of course, of the utmost importance to a healthful diet. Your bones, muscles and hormones all contain protein, and eating enough of it helps keep your body strong on the most fundamental level. Unfortunately, the importance of eating animal protein has long been made unrealistically important. Man once believed that eating the flesh of other animals would make him stronger and healthier – but now that we know what we do about cholesterol and the dangers of eating saturated fats, it’s obvious that limiting animal proteins is the healthy choice.

Vegetarians can, of course, be protein deficient – but that comes from undereating, or relying too heavily on junk foods. In most case, any diet adequate in calories from a variety of healthful sources provides enough protein. Grains, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts are all protein-rich foods, easily providing what the body needs.

Contrary to what many vegetarians believed in the last couple of decades, they don’t need to weigh and balance arcane combinations of foods to get adequate protein. This myth goes back to Frances Moore Lappe’s 1971 book “Diet for a Small Planet,” in which she wrote that vegetarians needed to balance foods based on which amino acids they were lacking, creating “complementing proteins.” For some time, there were even nutritionists who created complex charts to help vegetarians pick foods that went together, and concerned meat-free eaters made sure to combine beans and rice, or rice and corn, or grains and cheese … and it was an awful lot to remember!

But we now know that combining types of protein isn’t nearly as important as simply eating enough calories to maintain a healthy weight – Lappe even revised later editions of her book, admitting that she was wrong about the importance of food combining. No, if you eat enough food from different sources, you’ll probably be getting plenty of protein.

If you want to get technical about it, health professionals recommend that you eat 0.8 grams of protein each day for every kilogram of body weight. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds – so to find your recommended amount of daily protein, multiply your ideal weight by 0.8, then divide that number by 2.2. If you prefer a quicker method, just divide your ideal weight by 3. But even then, you don’t need to eat that much protein to stay healthy – keep in mind that recommendations like these always err on the side of safety, so the number you get will actually be higher than what you realistically need.

But you, as a vegetarian, should strive to meet the recommended daily requirement of protein – because plant proteins are, unfortunately, less efficient foods for providing nutrients. For one thing, they’re somewhat more difficult to digest than animal proteins, and they also lack the amount of amino acids present in meat. If you get most of your protein from beans and grains, this is especially true – ovo lacto vegetarians consume a similar amount of protein to omnivores, and vegans who eat a lot of soy products also get plenty of protein.

It’ll always be true, however, that as a vegetarian you’re eating less protein than people who eat both plant and animal proteins. A 1984 study found that a typical omnivore diet consists of between 15 and 17 percent protein, while lacto-ovo vegetarians generally eat about 13 percent protein and vegans around 11 to 12 percent.  Despite needing more protein and eating less, the vegans still had an adequate amount of protein in the diets. So don’t worry about doing anything fancy to meet your protein requirements – just eat from a variety of sources and get enough calories and you’ll be fine.

You will, in fact, be better than fine – because meat-eaters generally eat too much protein!  Studies have shown that replacing animal protein with plant protein in your diet can help lower your blood cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk of heart attack. Most people are by now aware of the danger of saturated fats in red meat and its effect on blood cholesterol – people recovering from heart attacks are prescribed diets which replace the beef with skinless chicken or fish. That is a good move, to be sure, but these people could lower their cholesterol even further by switching to a vegetarian diet and reducing the amount of fat that they eat. Plant proteins are lower in saturated fat than animal proteins and dairy products, and free of cholesterol.

There are also studies that show that eating slightly less protein than is optimal is far superior than eating too much – and in this era of supersizing, most meat-eaters eat far more than they need. When we eat too much protein, it’s up to our kidneys to filter out the excess. In the process, calcium is lost, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Since plant-based diets are lower in total protein, vegetarian diets are better for your bones! Excess protein is also, understandably, hard on the kidneys and unhealthy for people with kidney disease.

Plant proteins contain all the same amino acids, to differing degrees, as animal proteins, and eating enough of them gives you all the protein you need. Studies have shown that people can meet their protein needs just by eating rice, wheat or potatoes so long as they meet their caloric needs. By eating a variety of plant foods throughout the day and consuming enough calories,  you’ll be getting enough healthy plant protein. You’ll have a lower risk of heart and kidney disease, and you’ll be eating protein that’s more efficiently produced besides, using less valuable resources than animal protein. It’s what people call “win-win!”

CHAPTER 6 – Parasites – The Guests Who Came to Dinner

The intestinal tract is like a luxury hotel for parasites, bacteria and fungus. It’s warm, it’s moist, and oxygen is limited due to all the waste matter that’s packed in there. The colon – one of the most important organs in the body – is a dumping ground for waste, the place where the body toxins and excess nutrients that could be harmful to the system. It’s also where your body absorbs the nutrients that it needs in order to function and survive – so the health of your colon is mighty important. Parasites in particular can be dangerous to the health of the colon, leeching nutrients from the body and emitting emit harmful toxins that can further weaken the colon’s integrity. This can lead to a number of problems, from the mildly annoying to the deadly, such as:

Blood sugar imbalances


Sugar cravings



Weight gain or loss

Teeth grinding or TMJ






Immune deficiency

It’s estimated that over 90 percent of Americans contract a parasite of some kind at some point in their life. They enter our bodies from a variety of sources, including pets, food and unwashed hands. You can pick up parasites from contact with pets and other people, or just by walking  barefoot.  Children are easily infected by being less aware of  hygiene and playing with dirt and other possible contaminated substances.  But meat consumption is probably the biggest contributor to parasites flourishing in our bodies.

Eating meat can cause constipation, and constipation creates the perfect environment for parasites to thrive. These unwelcome guests multiply in the haustras, the pouches in the colon where debris is stored. At their least offensive, they cause intestinal gas – but if you experience any of the symptoms above, even something as seemingly minor as chronically itchy skin, you could very well be harboring parasites in your colon.

There are several families of parasites: Roundworms, Tapeworms, Flukes and Single Cell parasites. Each group has its own unique subset of parasites who do different things to your body. Let’s look at some of the more common intestinal parasite and what you can do to avoid them:

Giardia lamblia  are protozoan parasites that infect humans via consumption of contaminated food and water. It’s commonly found in untreated water supplies, and is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in travelers, but people sometimes pick them up while swimming in ponds and lakes. Giardia is responsible for the condition known as giardiasis that causes diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramping, weight loss, greasy stools, and dehydration. 

Toxoplasma gondii is another protozoan organism commonly found in the colon. Cats and kittens often carry it, and it can be transmitted to humans who handle of cats – especially their feces. You can also be infected with them by breathing in their eggs. Toxoplasma is responsible for the disease toxoplasmosis, which causes chills, fever, headaches and fatigue. If a pregnant woman contracts toxoplasmosis, it can lead to miscarriage, or birth defects such as blindness and mental retardation. 

Roundworms are are the most common intestinal parasite in the world, affecting over one billion people.  They’re also one of the largest parasites, and can grow to up to 30 inches in length. Humans can contract a roundworm infection by eating improperly cooked meat, or by handling dogs or cats infested with roundworms. Symptoms include loss of appetite, allergic reactions, coughing, abdominal pain, edema, sleep disorders, and weight loss. 

 Hookworms are able to penetrate the human skin, and often enter the body through the feet when people walk barefoot through contaminated areas. They can be all over the world, in warm, moist tropical areas, and can live in the intestines for up to fifteen years. A hookworm infection may cause symptoms such as itchy skin, blisters, nausea, dizziness, anorexia, and weight loss.
Trichinella parasites, caused by the consumption of raw or undercooked pork, can can mimic the symptoms of up to fifty different diseases. Possible symptoms of infection include muscle soreness, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, edema of the lips and face, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, enlarged lymph glands, and extreme dehydration.Tapeworms are the largest colon parasites that are known to infect humans. There are different types of tapeworms that infect different animals – there are beef tapeworms, pork tapeworms, fish tapeworms, and dog tapeworms. They can grow to several feet in length and live in the intestines for up to 25 years. Symptoms of a tapeworm infection are diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and change of appetite. 

Flukes, or Trematodas, are small flatworms that can penetrate the human skin when an individual is swimming or bathing in contaminated water. Flukes can travel throughout the body and settle in the liver, lungs or intestines. Symptoms of a fluke infection include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and swelling. 

CHAPTER 7 – The Happy Vegetarian – How a Meatless Diet Will Improve Your Health and Well-Being

Let’s talk digestion. No, really, this is fascinating – and important. If you still have any lingering suspicions that humans are supposed to eat meat as a primary source of protein, you might want to take a look at the digestive tract of true carnivores.

Meat is hard to digest, and it takes time for it to break down so that its nutrients can be used by the body. We’ve already talked about the differences between the teeth of carnivores (sharp amd pointy for tearing flesh) and the teeth of plant-eaters (blunt and flat, like ours), and that’s where digestion begins – in the mouth.

While you’re chewing your food, the enzyme’s in your saliva begin the digestive process, the first step in breaking it down to its most usable form. After you swallow, the food moves on to your stomach, where it’s dunked in a bath of hydrochloric acid that’s creaks it down further into a substance called chyme. It travels from there to the digestive tract where its slowly pushed through by contractions of the intestines called peristalysis. As it goes, tiny little hairlike fingers called villi absorb most of the nutrients from the chyme.

Finally, the almost completely digested food makes it to the colon, where water is absorbed from the chyme along with some more vitamins and nutrients before exiting through the rectum.

Meat – the protein that overstays its welcome

Here’s where it gets interesting. Looking at a true carnivore – like, say, that  lion with his big sharp teeth —  we can see enormous differences in their digestive tract. Specifically, the lion’s small intestine, where most of the nutrients are only about three times the length of his body. This means that the meat he eats moves through his system quickly, while it’s still fresh.

Humans, however, have much, much longer intestines, with food taking from 12 to 19 hours to pass through the digestive system. This is ideal for plant-based foods, allowing our intestinal tracts to absorb every little bit of nutrient available, but it also means that when we eat meat it’s decaying in a warm, moist environment for a very long time. As it slowly rots in our guts, the decaying meat releases free radicals into the body.

Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are present to some degree in every body. When you hear advertisements trumpeting the importance of foods and supplements containing cancer-fighting “anti-oxidents,” it’s these free radicals that they’re battling.

Scientists only know a little bit about free radicals at this time, but what they do know is this: free radicals are connected with the aging process, and may play a part in heart disease and cancer. They are, essentially, the tiny mechanisms that break down our bodies so that, eventually, we die.

While they’ll always be a part of you – free radicals are built in to cells as part of their normal activities – you can do things to minimize their damage. Too much sunlight in the form of excessive tanning encourages the production of free radicals, which is why even though a little sunlight is important each day (remember our buddy, Vitamin D?). Using a good sunblock will not only help you avoid skin cancers, it’ll help keep you younger in general. But the biggest thing you can do to limit the free radicals in your body is to avoid eating meat. For the 12 hours or more that meat is rotting away in your system, those tiny, free radical time bombs are multiplying in your system.

Along with that, as meat protein breaks down it creates an enormous amount of nitrogen-based by-products like urea and ammonia, which can cause a build-up of uric acid. Too much uric acid in your body leads to stiff, sore joints – and, when it crystallizes, can cause gout and increased pain from arthritis. Carnivorous animals, interestingly, produce a substance called uricase, which breaks down uric acid. Humans don’t produce uricase, though – another clue that we’re not meant to be meat-eaters.

The raw and the cooked

When you eat meat, how much of it do you eat raw?  Well, Mr. Lion eats his raw, while its still brimming with enzymes that aid in digestion. Humans, however, cook their meat. In fact, we cook our meat to temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This has the benefit of killing most disease-causing bacteria, but it also kills the enzymes in the meat.

Whenever you eat dead food – food lacking in the natural enzymes that help you digest it – your pancreas has to work extra hard to provide more so the food will break down for digestion. This puts strain on the pancreas that it wasn’t originally designed to handle. Which isn’t to say that you should eat raw meat, like the lion. But it’s another consideration when we look at whether humans are designed to eat meat – when true carnivores eat raw, fresh meat, all the enzymes are present to help them garner the nutrients they need as it passes quickly through their short digestive tracts, and the nutrient-depleted waste is eliminated soon after.

When we eat cooked meat, though, our bodies have to work extra hard to digest it, using precious energy needed for other purposes, overtaxing the pancreas, and creating free radicals as the dead flesh decays in our intestinal tract. But when we eat a plant-based diet, we’re feeding ourselves food that’s abundant with living enzymes, which breaks down efficiently in our systems, and which provides extra energy by not demanding that our organs work overtime to use it.

CHAPTER 8 – “But I’m Not a Freak!” or, How to Cope in a Carnivorous World

Being new to vegetarianism, it’s more than likely that you’re the only person in your household going meatless. Whether you live with a partner, your parents, your children or roommates, sticking to your guns when everyone else is chowing down on meat loaf or cheeseburgers can be difficult.  Even if they’re supportive of your decision, you’ll have to deal with them not understanding all the ins and outs of your new lifestyle – and if they’re not supportive, you may find them ridiculing your food choices or even actively trying to sabotage you.

The first thing you need to accept is that it’s not your job to make them change to suit your way of eating, any more than it’s theirs to turn you back into a meat-eater. If they want to change, that’s great – you can share this book with them and you can all work on menu-planning together! But the best way you can influence others in your household to adopt healthier habits is to be a good example – and not turning them off by lecturing them!

Meal time at an omnivorous dinner table

What’s the best way to deal with vegetarian needs when the rest of the family expects meat and potatoes for dinner? Should you just partake of the same meal as the others, only skipping the meat? Or should you make it clear that you have special needs, and eat a separate meal from everyone else? If you’re the primary cook in your family, you may not want to prepare multiple entrees every night – and you might not want to cook a meat-based dish for others when you’ve given it up yourself. And if you’re not the family chef, is it fair to ask them to go to extra effort for you, night after night?

Only you know the dynamic in your home, so only you can figure out the answers to these questions. One thing is certain, however – you need to sit down and talk to the people you live with about your dietary needs and figure out the most agreeable way to make it work for everyone. If you can’t stand to have meat around you at all, this is a huge issue. You may have to ask the others in your home to cook meat outside on a grill, and dedicate a special section of the refrigerator to meat storage, asking that it’s wrapped in such a way that you don’t have to look at it. If your feelings aren’t that strong, you may simply want to negotiate who cooks what, and when – perhaps you can arrange to cook completely vegetarian meals for everyone three nights a week, and prepare your own entrée on the other nights. It all comes down to what your needs are, and the compromises you and your family are willing to make.

What about the children?

A little patience and negotiation can overcome issues between a meat-eater and a vegetarian, but what if you have children? It’s a little like a “mixed marriage” where you have to decide in which religion you’ll raise your children! Few areas can lead to disharmony in a relationship faster than disagreements on how to bring up the kids, so sit down and negotiate this one with your partner before you go any further.

Raising your child to be vegetarian is certainly a healthful option – kids benefit from going meatless just like adults – and we’ll discuss the how-to of that in Chapter 16. The most important thing right now is to figure out how you’ll handle meals at home with your kids. Some families eat nothing but meatless meals at home, but allow the children to eat meat at school and at their friends’ houses. Others create meals that offer options for everyone in the family, so that the omnivores and the vegetarians can choose whatever they like.

On the other hand, you may feel so strongly that your children become vegetarians that there may be no room for compromise. You’ll need to lay this out for your partner in a kind, non-confrontational way and, even if you do, it may lead to conflict. It may seem like it’s “just food,” but it’s an important issue – if you can’t easily negotiate the issue, there’s no shame in working it out with a family counselor. Remember, though, that no matter what their age, people like to eat good food – so if you put together tasty, attractive menus full of flavor, color and a variety of textures, you’ll find that the kids and adults are more willing  to try vegetarian meals.

Going your own way – and letting them go theirs

If you’re the main cook in the family, cooking multiple entrees for family dinners can be a huge pain. It’s a lot of extra work, but it’s also the easiest solution to making sure you get something to eat while keeping everyone happy. And it’s also, you’ll be surprised to learn, the best way to sway others to your side.

Look at it this way – your omnivorous tablemates can enjoy the meat-based portion of the meal while you eat your vegetarian option, and all of you share the (meatless) side dishes. Of course, your vegetarian food is going to look so good and smell so delicious, they’ll want to try your food, too. So the next time, you just make the vegetarian dish, and chances are they’ll never miss the meat-based dish! Pretty soon, you’ll be making vegetarian meals almost every day of the week … mission accomplished.

You can also make your meal out of all of the non-meat dishes on the table which, if you plan well, should be enough to fill up your plate and your belly. Steamed vegetables, roasted red potatoes, a salad and a whole wheat roll  is a fine meal – let the others have the pork chops, because you’ve got plenty to eat. This is a good approach when you find yourself at a Thanksgiving dinner, office party or dinner at a friend’s house and you can’t dictate the menu – just eat what you can, without making a big deal out of your vegetarian lifestyle.

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CHAPTER 9- The Vegetarian Eats Out – Meals You Can Enjoy From Fast Food to Fine Dining

When you’re making your own meals at home, it’s easy to have complete control over every aspect of your eating. You stocked the pantry, you planned the menus, and you’re whipping up tasty meatless meatless entrees for you and your family. But unless you’re completely housebound, you have to go out in the world some time – and often, that requires eating in restaurants.

That doesn’t mean you have to toss out all your vegetarian principles. More and more, restaurants offer vegetarian options, and even fast food outlets have food you can eat. Depending on where you are, you can find something to eat. The reason restaurants have become more sensitive to the needs of vegetarians has nothing to do with social consciousness – it has to do with money. Vegetarians (and friends of vegetarians) have money to spend, too, and restaurants that don’t cater to meatless eaters lose business when those folks want to eat out.

Even if you end up in a restaurant that doesn’t have anything vegetarian on the menu, you can always request something special. Remember, restaurants want your money – and they get that money buy selling you food, and preparing it in a way you like!  Salads can be made without the chicken or salmon that’s listed on the menu. You can even ask your server if the chef can prepare something vegetarian just for you. Chefs often get a little bored making the same things day in and day out, and yours may welcome the opportunity to whip up something new! Just be polite, ask nicely, and your request will be seen as perfectly reasonable.

Think ethnic

If you live in a big city, you’ll probably be able to find vegetarian restaurants in your town. If you can’t find any on the Internet or in the phone book, look for a natural foods store in your town – the employees there will be able to point you toward restaurants that are vegetarian-friendly. If both of those searches come up short, think ethnic! Chinese restaurants are great for vegetarians, offering delicious vegetable entrees, rice and noodles. Just take a moment to quiz your server about how the dishes are prepared – some dishes that sound vegetarian on the menu may contain meat or eggs. Tell your waiter that you don’t eat meat, and they’ll make sure your meal comes the way you want it.

Indian restaurants are terrific for vegetarians, too, although not all cities have them. The Indian diet has a rich tradition of vegetarianism, and restaurants offer a selection of vegetable curries and dishes made with chickpeas, which are an excellent source of protein (and delicious). If you’re new to Indian cuisine, you have a delightful adventure ahead of you – try dal, a traditional, spicy lentil dish, and samosas, delightful little pastries stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices (just make sure you don’t order the ones with meat!) If you’re avoiding dairy, though, be aware that many Indian dishes are prepared using clarified butter, called ghee – just ask that your meal be prepared with vegetable oil instead.

If your co-workers or family announce a trip to the Olive Garden or another Italian restaurant, don’t fret – Itailian restaurants are another great option for vegetarians, especially the ovo lactos. Pasta with meatless marinara sauce is a staple menu item, as it pasta primavera, which is loaded with vegetables. Many Italian soups, such as pasta fagioli, gets their protein from rice and beans (just make sure that they use vegetable broth, and not beef or chicken). At the big chain restaurants like Olive Garden or the Spaghetti Factory, you’ll find salad bar/bread stick combination meals that are perfect for vegetarians and easy on the wallet. And if the gang heads out for pizza, ovo lactos have lots of options, too. Plain cheese pizza, or even a cheeseless pizza topped with vegetables, are just as tasty as the meat-loaded kind.

Other ethnic options are excellent choices for vegetarians, as well. Hit a Greek restaurant and load up on hummus, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), baba ganoujh (a delicious eggplant spread), spanikopita (spinach pie) and salad made with a grain called tabouli. If you like Mexican fare, you can have gazpacho (a cold vegetable soup), chiles rellenos (green peppers stuffed with cheese, the breaded and fried) and bean-and-cheese versions of all the usual favorites – burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and tacos.

 Eating with the common folk

If you’re an ovo lacto vegetarian, you’ll be able to find lots of things to eat at family-style restaurants, no matter what time of the day you visit them. At breakfast, you can enjoy waffles or pancakes, omelettes and egg “scrambles.” Other times of the day or night, there’s grilled cheese sandwiches, salads, french fries, egg salad and other items. It gets harder, however, if you’re vegan. In fact, despite the size of the menus in these restaurants, vegans will find little that they can eat. This is where it pays to be creative and flexible. Ask your waitress if the kitchen will top a baked potato with steamed vegetables, or ask if you can just side dishes and have a small salad, some veggies and rice. It may not be the most delicious meal you’ve ever had, but it’s an adequate meal until you can get something tastier.

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, your better restaurants will have menu items designed with vegetarians in mind – and even if there’s nothing that’s just what you want, the chef will probably be amenable to customizing a dish to your liking.  Most of the time, though, you’ll find delicious vegetarian appetizers – you can even make a meal out of two or three of those if there’s no entrée that appeals to you. But you’d be surprised how creative a chef can be when asked to come up with something new on the spur of the moment, and your meat-eating friends will be jealous of the special attention you receive!

CHAPTER 10 – Balancing the Scales – Losing Weight on a Vegetarian Diet
Americans spend over $30 billion each year on weight control products, programs, gym memberships and gizmos. And yet, 25 percent of Americans are overweight, with about half the women on weight-loss diets. The industries that make Americans fat, slim them down, and then fatten them up again – from the supersized fast-food corporations to the “systems” that are really just packaged food purveyors – get  rich by advising people to eat irresponsibly. They’re abetted by government agencies like the FDA and the USDA, which still promote their meat and carbohydrate heavy food pyramid while chiding everyone for getting so fat.

The diet industry rakes in the enormous profits that it does for one simple, yet ingenious, reason – the diets they promote don’t work. Whether it’s meal replacement shakes, prepackaged microwave meals, appetite suppressing pills or the elimination of one major nutrient category (usually fat or carbohydrates), they all have one thing in common. That is, that while they’re designed to take off weight in the short term, they aren’t a lifestyle that you can adapt for the rest of your life. Sooner or later (usually as soon as about half the weight you wanted to lose has melted away) you go back to eating real food instead of shakes, pills, bars or boxed dinners, and the weight all comes back.  Then you pronounce that diet a failure and jump on a different one!

This merry-go-round makes the diet industry very happy, and they’re thrilled when a new fad comes along that they can exploit. When it was diet shakes, a hundred companies made diet shakes. When the boxed-meal diets became popular, five more “programs” opened franchises. The same company that was making low-fat meal replacement bars five years ago also turned out low-carb bars when the Atkins diet was all the rage – and switched back to making low-fat bars as soon as the fad started to fade. If the next big fad turns out to be an all-fish diet, you can bet those same companies will be manufacturing Cod Munchies and Halibut Delight Cookies.

The secret to successful weight control – the secret that the diet industry doesn’t want you to figure out – is eating a moderate amount of a variety of nutrient-rich foods.  Because if you’re eating whole foods, there’s nothing for them to sell you! And the ideal weight control diet is a vegetarian diet. Vegetarians are, overall, thinner than meat-eaters, despite eating everything that the diet programs forbid.

Rethinking the concept of dieting

Going by conventional wisdom, it doesn’t make sense that vegetarians can be slender when they eat potatoes, pasta, bread, beans and rice. Which is the first clue that the conventional wisdom is wrong. Popular fad diets insist that starchy foods will pack on the pounds, and insist that you limit carbohydrates to a small green salad and maybe one piece of fruit each day. But vegetarianism is a naturally slenderizing diet, and one that makes sense when you understand just how it fuels the body.

If you want to lose weight permanently and stay off fad diets forever, the first step is to jettison everything that the diet gurus have told you. Starvation diets – and really, that what all fad diets are – don’t keep weight off in the long term.

A realistic diet is one that contains whole, healthful foods and doesn’t involve buying special products and supplements. You don’t need to count calories or “points” or talk to a diet counselor every week. You just need to change the way you eat, replacing bad old habits with good new ones.

Face it – if you’re fat, it’s because of the way you eat. And the only way to change that is to revamp your diet and have some patience. It took a long time to gain all that weight, and it’s going to take a long time to get it off. If you want to lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life, you have to find a way of eating that you can live with even after you’re at your ideal weight. There are no quick fixes – not if you want permanent results.

CHAPTER 11 – The Meatless Kitchen – Buying Food and Planning Menus

Ever visit the kitchen of an avid cook? It’s organized, clean, well-stocked and ready for whatever creative menus strike their fancy. Eating well isn’t just about the food you eat – it’s also about having the tools you need to make great meals.  Organization, planning and cleanliness will make cooking in your kitchen a pleasure rather than a chore.

Managing your workspace

Whether you enjoy spending hours in the kitchen chopping, stirring and mixing or just want to get in, get out quickly, it pays to make your kitchen somewhere that you enjoy spending time. That means that it’s clean, organized and has the equipment you need to do the job.

Step one to organizing your kitchen is to go through your cupboards and get rid of all the accumulated stuff that you don’t have any use for. That means broken appliances (and the ones you got as Christmas gifts that you’ve never used), old paper plates from kids’ birthday parties, half-full bottles of hot sauce that you’ve had for six years and those empty jars that are gathering dust on the top shelf. If you’re not going to use it, toss it out, give it away or sell it online – just get it out of your workspace.

Take your kitchen, one section at a time, and clean off the shelves.  Wipe them down with cleanser, maybe lay down some fresh shelf paper. Do the same with your drawers. You don’t have to do it all in one night – take it a little at a time with the goal of getting all your shelves and drawers sparkling clean. Scrub down the stove and clean your refrigerator – inside and outside. Throw away food that’s gone bad or have just been sitting there for ages because you’ll never eat it. Toss out the foods in your cupboards that are going to waste, too.

Right now, there’s probably a haphazard plan, at best, to the way your kitchen is organized. Your pots and pans are a jumble in one cupboard, your wooden spoons, spatulas and knives all tossed in the same drawer, and your cookie sheets are leaning against the wall. The dry goods on your shelves – cereal, pasta, and the like – are probably stuck on the shelves with no regard for organization.  It takes time to find things when you want to use them, and there’s an attitude of disrespect when you treat your food and your tools this way – your new lifestyle is about healthy habits, right? So develop good organizational habits, too!

Start by organizing things by type. Put all of your fats, oils, salad dressings and condiments together. Pasta, rice and other uncooked grains should be together, too. Think of how they’re stocked when you go to the grocery store – there’s an intuitive design behind the methods that grocers stock their goods. The same rules make sense in your kitchen, too. Organize your spices, as well. You don’t have to be quite so anal retentive as alphabetize them, but you can find an organizational system that works for you, like putting the things you use the most in the front, or separating the herbs and the spices.

Handling the hardware

There are tools that you’ll need to cook with, but not as many you might think – and possibly not even as many as you already own. If your countertop is cluttered with a coffeemaker, a mixer, a blender, a toaster oven and microwave, be honest about how often you use these items. Do they need to be there all the time? If you rarely bake, store the mixer under a counter until you need it. Ditto the blender. If you only make a pot of coffee on the weekend, think about store it out of sight during the week. This will give you more space to work and make your kitchen look less cluttered.

If you don’t cook much, you may find yourself lacking some basic kitchen essentials. Most can be purchased inexpensively at stores like Target or Wal-Mart, but you can find a lot of them for almost nothing at thrift stores. The basics for any home kitchen include:

Measuring cups and spoons

Bowls in various sizes for mixing and serving

Wooden spoons

Rubber spatulas


Baking pans and cookie sheets

Pots and pans in assorted sizes

Good, sharp knives – a paring knife, a chef’s knife and a serrated bread knife

Bigger items that you’ll probably want:

A mixer, either countertop style or handheld

Heavy duty blender

Food processor

Slow cooker (usually called a crock pot)

Rice cooker

CHAPTER 12 – Delicious Vegetarian Recipes That Everyone Can Enjoy

There are tons of great recipe books for vegetarians – among the most popular are The Moosewood Cookbook and its sequels, and the classic The Vegetarian Epicure. It’s not difficult to find recipes, and you can always adapt your favorites to your new lifestyle.

Here’s some recipes to get you started. All of them are good for ovo lacto vegetarians – the vegan recipes are noted as such, and ovo lactos can enjoy them, too!


Old-Style Potato Pancakes

Serves 8

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded

1 medium onion, coarsely shredded

4 green onions, chopped

1 egg beaten    (Although Rudy  mentions eggs,  vegans like me  should use egg replacer or smashed tofu – Anouk)

salt and pepper to taste

vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, mix the potatoes and onions. Wrap the mixture in cheese cloth or paper towels, and squeeze out the excess liquid into another bowl. The starch from the potatoes will settle into the bottom of the bowl – pour off the water and save the remaining potato starch.

In a large bowl, combine the potato mixture, green onions, egg, salt and pepper, and reserved potato starch. Coat a nonstick 12-inch skillet or griddle with a thin layer of oil, heat skillet over medium-high heat. For each pancake, press together about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture with your hands, place on skillet and flatten with a heat-proof spatula. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Serve hot.

Savory Breakfast Flan

Serves 6


6 oz. grated cheddar cheese, plus two tablespoons

8 oz. frozen corn

10 eggs    (Although Rudy  mentions eggs,  vegans like me  should use egg replacer or smashed tofu – Anouk)

1 teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Dash cayenne

1-1/4 cup skim milk  (vegan milk)

3/4 cup half-and-half

Spray a 9″x13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Spread half of the cheese in the bottom of the pan. Layer half of the corn on top of the cheese layer. Repeat with layers of cheese and corn. Combine all remaining ingredients except the 2 tablespoons cheddar, and pour over corn and cheese.  Bake at 325°F for 1 hour, or until puffy and lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar and return to oven for 1 minute. Run a sharp knives around edges to loosen, cut into rectangles and serve.

Mediterranean Tofu Scramble (vegan)

Serves 2

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 package (14 oz.) firm tofu

4 oz. sliced mushrooms (I use half of a pre-sliced 8 oz. package)

1 small can (2.25 oz.) sliced black olives, drained

2 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4  tsp. oregano

½ tsp. garlic powder

½  teaspoon salt

Add oil to medium skillet over high heat. Crumble the tofu into the pan, add remaining ingredients. Cook about 10 minutes until mushrooms are soft.

Oatmeal Spice Breakfast Bars (vegan)

Makes about 10 bars

2-2/3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup flax seed meal

2 med. bananas, mashed

1/3 cup canola oil

½ cup dried fruit, in any combination (raisins, dates, cherries and cranberries are good)

2/3 cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds

1½  tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ginger

2 Tbsp. sweetener, or more to taste (non-vegans may use honey)

Vegan egg substitute product to equal one egg

Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add bananas, egg substitute, oil and sweetener; combine until blended and mixture is sticky.  If the mixture appears to dry, add a small amount of water. Shape dough into 1/2-inch thick bars on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

 Easy Vegan Pancakes

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 cups vanilla soy or rice milk

½ tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add milk and oil, stirring until just mixed (it should still be a little lumpy). Heat skillet until a drop of cold water dances across the surface; grease pan with spray oil and drop 1/4 to ½ cup batter onto skillet for each pancake. When the edges look brown and the air bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, turn and cook other side.  Serve with syrup or fresh fruit.

Carrot Breakfast Muffins (vegan)

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup oat bran

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ tsp. Nutmeg

1/3 tsp. Ginger

2/3 cup grated carrots

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 cup water

1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and the grated carrots. Add all of the wet ingredients. Mix well.  Pour the batter into a lightly oiled muffin pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Other breakfast options:

Breakfast Burritos:  Eggs or extra-firm tofu scrambled with onions, peppers and chopped vegetarian sausage, topped with soy cheese and rolled up in a warm tortilla.

McVegetarian Sandwich:  Place scrambled eggs (or egg substitute or tofu), vegetarian faux-Canadian bacon and soy cheese in a sliced English muffin. A great take-and-eat breakfast!

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CHAPTER 13 – Shopping the “Health Food” Aisle – Solving the Mysteries of Seeds, Soy and Stevia

We’ve talked a little bit about meat substitutes, tofu, and grains like quinoa … but what are they? What do you use them for? And where the heck do you get them? Luckily, as more and more people become vegetarian (and non-vegetarians cut back on animal foods) more co-ops and whole foods stores keep cropping up, even in smaller towns. Mainstream grocery stores keep expanding their “natural foods” sections because customers are demanding soy products and whole grains. It’s just a matter of knowing what you’re buying, and all the delicious ways you can add variety to your vegetarian diet.

Tofu for you

The two most common meat-substitute protein foods you’ll find in vegetarian cooking are tofu and tempeh. They’re both soy-based foods, but they’re very different.

Tofu is a smooth, almost flavorless curd made from soybeans. While Westerners still think of tofu as exotic or as a strictly vegetarian food, it’s been a staple in other countries’ cuisine for thousands of years. The Chinese have been eating tofu since at least 200 B.C., and it’s used every day in Asian homes. “Bean curd” is another term for tofu, so keep an eye out in Chinese restaurants for menu items that feature curd – that’s tofu!

Tofu is made from soy milk in a similar manner to the way cheese is manufactured from animal milk. A curdling agent is added to the soy, causing the solid matter to clump into curds. The curds are then pressed into a solid block.

The flavor-free quality of tofu is precisely what makes it so versatile – tofu is spongy and porous, and absorbs other flavors very well, so it can be adapted to almost any kind of dish. It comes in a variety of textures, from extra-firm to soft, so it can be used as a meat substitute, and egg substitute, or it can stand in for dairy in fillings, sauces, dips and puddings. Recipes will tell you which type to use, and once you get used to cooking with it you’ll come up with countless ideas on your own.

For a meat substitute, firm or extra-firm tofu is usually cut into cubes and added to stir-fry dishes, or marinated in soy sauce (or other flavorful liquid) and cooked in big chunks. If you freeze tofu and then defrost it, the texture becomes more chewy – ideal for people who miss the texture of meat.

Silken tofu, combined with melted chocolate (vegan or otherwise) makes an excellent chocolate pudding or cream pie filling. Soft tofu can be used to make creamy sauces – just puree cooked vegetable in a blender or food processor and add tofu. This same method works to make creamy, dairy-free soups.

Whatever form it takes, tofu is a marvelous source of nutrition.  Primarily eaten as a high-quality source of protein, tofu that’s been processed with calcium salt is also a great source of calcium (another reason you don’t need dairy!) It’s also loaded with iron and other minerals. People on a low-fat diet should remember that tofu is fairly high is fat, but it’s free of cholesterol and generally lower in fat than animal proteins – and there are also lower fat tofu products on the market. Firm tofu is usually higher in fat than soft tofu.
Because of its soft consistency and bland taste, tofu is a good source of nutrition for babies or older people who have difficulty chewing hard foods. It’s most commonly sold in tubs or vacuum packs and can be found in either the dairy case or produce section of your supermarket.  Once opened, leftover tofu may be stored by rinsing, covering with fresh water daily and stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to a week. Tofu can be frozen for up to five months.

CHAPTER 14 – The Pros and Cons of Milk, Cheese, Yogurt and Other Dairy Products

We’ve already discussed many of the problems associated with consuming dairy, from the horrible practices of factory farming to the difficulty the body has digesting cow’s milk. Well … we’re going to do it again! Because while you may choose to be an ovo lacto vegetarian – and that’s a great step towards eating a healthy, socially responsible diet – there are still some very good reasons to limit the amount of dairy products you eat.

The truth about osteoporosis

You probably believe that osteoporosis, the crippling disease that results in weak, brittle bones, is caused by a deficiency of calcium.  For pretty much your entire life you’ve heard that “milk does a body good” and that the only way to prevent osteoporosis is to drink lots of milk, and to eat plenty of cheese and yogurt.  You know, “for healthy teeth and strong bones!”

And yet, Americans and Canadians eat more dairy products than any other country while having the highest incidence of osteoporosis. In fact throughout the world, the level of hip fractures (a symptom of osteoporosis) rises in direct relationship to how much calcium the people consume!

The truth is that, like heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and a host of other ailments, osteoporosis is the by-product of affluence, not of calcium deficiency. As scientists study osteoporosis, they’re discovering that it’s the result of a bad, overall lifestyle, including diet. Calcium certainly plays a part in building strong bones – as we discussed earlier, however, bones only build their density in our younger years, so by the time we reach adulthood that die has been cast.  Consuming a lot of calcium as an adult simply has no bone-building effect.

Animal protein is high in sulfur-containing amino acids, which requires the body to find a way to offset the effects of those amino acids. Our bodies do this by first using the small amount of calcium in our food, then by taking it from our bones – after which point it exits the body through our urinary tract.  The more meat and dairy products you eat, the more calcium you need to process them through the body. A researcher at the Creighton University School of Medicine named Robert Heaney – an advocate of dairy consumption – found in his research that the single most important factor in the rate of bone growth in young women is not how much calcium they consume, but how much calcium they consume in relation to animal protein.  The more protein eaten, the more calcium must be consumed to offset the calcium drain. Most people in the U.S., Canada and Northern Europe eat more than twice the recommended amount of protein, and more than four or five times the amount of protein actually needed, with 70 percent of it coming from animal sources. Osteoporosis is not a result of calcium deficiency – it’s a result of eating too much animal protein

That burning feeling

Have you ever downed a glass of milk to sooth an upset stomach, only to find an hour later that your stomach feels bad all over again? That’s because milk actually causes the stomach to become more acidic. Here’s how it works: animal products are more difficult to digest than plant foods, which means that your stomach needs to produce more hydrochloric acid (HCI) to break them down. So let’s say that you had a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast, a little cream in your coffee and a slice of toast with melted cheese. All that dense protein needs plenty of acid to digest it, so HCI is produced. You feel that familiar burn of acid indigestion a few hours after you ate, so you drink a glass of milk to settle your stomach. And it does, temporarily, by neutralizing the acid. But you you’ve just added more animal protein to your stomach, and now your stomach has to produce even more acid to digest it! Milk is a highly alkaline substance, so whenever you drink milk with a meal, you’re actually hindering your body’s ability to digest your food properly.

The hormone factor

If nothing else has convinced you to get your calcium from rich plant sources like broccoli, tofu, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables, try this on for size – your ingesting antibiotics and hormones every times you consume dairy products.

They don’t the meat and dairy industries “agribusiness” for nothing – they’re businesses, and their primary goal is to make a lot of money.  They make that money by selling lots and lots of animal products, and that means keeping animals healthy and growing them big/ To do this, they pump them full of antibiotics and hormones.

Just like a nursing baby ingests whatever its mother has eaten, you consume the cow’s diet when you eat animal foods. That means that you’re getting hormones in your food, hormones that were used to fatten pigs, make cows give more milk, hormones to force chickens to produce more eggs and for turkeys to grow massive drumsticks.

Hormones regulate every aspect of the human body, from how much weight we gain or lose, to our sex drives and our moods, to how much hair we have.  They influence your sleep cycle, your complexion, your reproductive cycle and your brain functions. When cows are given excessive, unnatural levels of artificial hormones to produce more milk, what affect do you think it might have on you when you drink the milk they produce?

If you’ve ever taken any sort of a hormone for medical purposes – steroids, birth control pills, cortisone shots – then you know how quickly that small amount of hormone introduced into your body makes dramatic changes. An imbalance of hormones in your body can make you grow hair in unexpected places, create accelerated maturity in children and adolescents, cause you to feel anxious, depressed, angry or overly emotional, and cause your face to erupt in blemishes.

CHAPTER 15 – Special Needs – How To Live a Meatless Life and Still Make Your Doctor (or Coach) Happy

If you have an ongoing health concern like diabetes, or if you’re pregnant (or trying to conceive), or if you’re an athlete in training for a sport, you naturally have concerns about whether a vegetarian diet is your best option. The answer is – yes, if you’re eating enough of the right foods.  Vegetarianism is great for keeping blood sugar under control and getting the body in peak shape, whether you hope to run a marathon or have a baby.

Doing vegetarianism as a diabetic

For diabetics, diet is the first line of defense, literally the difference between life and death. Left untreated, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure and even loss of the hands and feet, and it affects people of all ages. If you’re a diabetic, your doctor has already told you that your diet is the single most important weight you can manage your diabetes –  a low fat, high carbohydrate and high fiber vegetarian diet is an excellent option.

Worldwide, over 30 million people suffer from diabetes. Essentially, the condition is one in which the body is unable to process nutrients efficiently.  In a “normal” body, the food we eat is converted to usable energy in the form of glucose, a sugar that’s carried by the blood to all of our various functions with the help of the hormone insulin. Diabetics, however, have an imbalance of insulin – either too little or none at all – which means that the body has difficulty converting blood sugar to usable energy. This means that the glucose remains, unconverted, in the bloodstream and never gets where it’s needed, leading to fatigue, muscle pain loss of concentration and coordination and blurry vision. When someone has a hypoglycemic episode, that’s what’s going on – the amount of usable sugars in their bloodstream is too low. In extreme cases this can lead to the person lapsing into a coma, or even dying.

As a matter of controlling their blood sugar, diabetics have to keep a close eye on their diet, eating a wide variety of foods and making sure they sit down to regular meals. Carbohydrates must be watched carefully – at least half of the recommended diabetic diet must include complex carbohydrates from sources like baked potatoes, whole grain breads, vegetables and legumes. Sounds like a vegetarian diet, doesn’t it?

The vegetarian diet is so good for diabetics, in fact, that some vegetarian diabetics can transition off medication, including many who previously had to inject insulin.  The level of control that vegetarianism allows diabetics allows them to feel confident that they’re eating for optimal health.

Adding a third vegetarian to the family

If you’re hoping to get pregnant, both you and your doctor want you to be in the best possible condition to insure that both you and your baby are healthy. Eating well is important before and during pregnancy – and the more of a head start you can get on good health before you conceive, the better.

Vegetarians may eat a healthier diet than omnivores, but you’ll still need to follow the same advice as meat-eaters in many respects. Take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement for several months before you get pregnant, and make sure it offers plenty of B12 and folic acid, or folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects of the spine and brain. Get plenty of physical activity and drink lots of water, and avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Eat nutritious foods and cut back or eliminate junk food and refined sugar.

As a vegetarian, you’ll probably be in better shape than if you were eating meat, and closer to your ideal weight. You’ll also have a strong immune system now that you’re avoiding animal foods, which you’ll pass on to your baby. Just make sure that you’re getting plenty of iron – many women begin pregnancy deficient in iron, and as your body grows and you store more blood to nourish your baby, you don’t want to risk becoming anemic.

CHAPTER 16 – Veggies for Kids – How to Raise a Happy, Healthy Vegetarian Child

We all start out life as lacto vegetarians. Out first food is our mothers’ milk, made just for us and full of all the nutrients we need. Infant formula, the alternative to breast milk, is made as close as possible to that of mother’s milk, and it’s all we require or should eat for the first four to six months of life. The good news is, if you’re a vegetarian, your breast milk is superior to that of meat-eating mothers – you’re not passing on any of the antibiotics, pesticides or other contaminants that you would if you were eating meat. (And if you’re a vegan and you breast feed, your child is still a vegan, too – breast milk is a natural food for humans while cow’s milk is not).

Whether or not you breast feed is entirely your decision but, for most babies, breast milk is the optimal food. In addition to the sugars and other nutrients, scientists believe that there are other, as yet unidentified, substances in breast milk that make it superior to infant formula. Should you decide not to breast feed, choose a soy-based formula – soy is less likely to cause allergies than cow’s-milk-based formulas. But don’t give regular soy milk to a baby less than a year old, as it’s not designed to meet their nutritional needs.

Cow’s milk should never be fed to babies under one year old, as it can cause intestinal bleeding and lead to anemia. Also, studies have shown a link between infants drinking cow’s milk and their increased risk to become diabetic later in life.

Meat-free infants

At the four-to-six month mark, it’s time to introduce your baby to solid foods. The timing varies from baby to baby – when your child reaches 13 pounds or double his birth weight wants to breast-feed eight times or more during a 24-hour period, and when she takes a quart or more of a formula per day and still acts hungry, it’s time to transition to solid foods.

You’ll want to introduce solid foods slowly, so that their systems can get used to the change in diet. Start with cooked grains – rice cereal is best, as almost every baby can digest it easily and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Once your baby eats cooked cereal, begin to slowly introduce other foods. You can buy commercial baby foods or puree your own fruits and vegetables in a blender. If you buy prepared foods, buy ones that are free from added sugars, preservatives and any other additives that your baby doesn’t need. Start with raw, mashed fruits and move on to cooked vegetables like mashed sweet potatoes. It’s smart to introduce new foods one at a time, so if your baby has sensitivity to a food you can easily identify it.

When your child starts teething (somewhere between 12 and 24 months) they can move on to foods that need to be chewed. Raw vegetables can be introduced then, starting with veggies that are easy to chew and unlikely to present a choking hazard. When giving babies “finger foods,” take care that the foods aren’t  too hard, large, sharp, or round. Good choices are carrot sticks, lettuce and other leafy green vegetables, and lightly blanched and cooled broccoli. As long as it’s safe for the baby to chew, an vegetables that adults eat are fine for a child.

Follow the same feeding schedules and advice that you would for any other baby, except for not feeding them meat. Adapt the guidelines in the baby books to the vegetarian diet. Just make sure that you don’t let other people convince you that you should be allowing your baby to drinkl cow;s milk – once your child is old enough to transition off formula, you can give him water, regular soy milk or rice milk, juice, regular soy milk, or any other nutritious liquid.

At seven to ten months, start introducing high-protein legumes to the baby’s diet. Slowly add tofu into their meals and snacks, as well as soy cheese and soy yogurt – two servings per day, about a half-ounce per serving.  Most babies are very fond of lentils, which can be cooked until fairly soft and have a pleasant, bland flavor. Nut butters should not be fed until after 12 months.

Toddler time

As you ease into the toddler/preschooler years (ages 1 to 4), you can start offering your child some vegetarian versions of classic kids’ favorites.  Vegetarian and vegan children are just like any other kids – they’ll be a bit fussy sometimes, but there are a wide variety of nutritious foods that children universally enjoy:

Spaghetti with meatless sauce

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Baked french fries with ketchup

Veggie burgers, hot dogs and sandwich slices

Whole wheat bread and rolls

Grilled soy cheese sandwiches

Veggie pizzas with soy cheese

Pancakes or waffles, with fruit or maple syrup

Vegetable soup

Baked potatoes with non-dairy sour cream

Rice and beans

Spinach lasagna

Calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice

Cold cereal with vanilla soy or rice milk

Chicken-Free nuggets (soy protein nuggets that taste just like breaded chicken)


Fruit, cut up into bite sized pieces

Raisins and banana chips

Trail mix


Fruit smoothies


Vegan cakes, cookies and other baked goods

Vegetarian diets feature a lot of bulky, filling plant foods, and since small children have equally small stomachs, they sometimes don;t get all the calories they require. Make sure to include a lot of calorie-dense foods in your child’s diet so that they get all the energy their growing bodies require – add avocado, which is calorie-dense and full of good fats, to sandwiches.  Peanut and almond butters are excellent sources of calories for kids, too.Very young children also need to eat more than three meals each day. So be generous with the snacks featuring grains, fruits and vegetables to add lots of necessary nutrients to their diet. Don’t worry about a vegetarian diet affecting your child’s growth – a 1989 study of children living in a vegan community in Tennessee found that while they were slightly shorter than average at age 1 to 3, they caught up by age 10, when they were actually taller than average, and weighed slightly less than children raised on an omnivorous diet.

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CHAPTER 17 – The Social Vegetarian – Connecting with Meat-Eaters and Others at Work and at Play

People are less inclined to look down their noses at vegetarians than once was the case, but there are still social challenged to living a meatless lifestyle. Some people will believe that you’re making an in-your-face political choice and have a negative reaction for no good reason. A lot of people will wonder if you’ve gone all hippy-dippy, patchouli-scented goofball on them, and treat with condescension and scorn. Even the most supportive of friends will misunderstand what “vegetarian” means and offer you fish or eggs without ever asking you for the particulars of your diet. And you’re going to have to take this all with good humor and flexibility.  The level of acceptance you find depends, of course, on where you live, where you work, and what sort of people you hang out with. But even in the most accepting of environments, you’re going to have challenges.

Explaining yourself, even though you shouldn’t have to

As we’ve discussed, you’ll need a supply of quick, polite answers to handle the questions people will have about your diet. Don’t get cranky – sure, they’re nosy, but isn’t it nice that they want to know more about vegetarianism? If you already know what to say, it’ll be easy to give them an answer without turning the conversation into a lengthy debate. Some of the most common questions you’ll field are the same ones you had when you first started out – except now you know the answers:

Why are you a vegetarian?

If you don’t eat meat, how do you get enough protein?

Can you eat chicken? How about fish?

Is this some sort of a religious thing?

Is it hard to never eat meat?

Why do you wear leather shoes if you won’t eat animals?

Isn’t vegetarian food boring?

Can you eat at McDonald’s?

If you already know the answers, you won’t mind the questions so much!

Dining gracefully with meat-eaters

Dinner parties – both attending them and hosting them – can be problematic for people on special diets. If you’re the host, you can make sure that you have a tempting variety of delicious foods, dazzling your guests with such tasty choices that they’d be foolish to miss the meat. But what if you’re the guest?

Often, even if your hosts know that you’re vegetarian, they may not know how to feed you. They may think that by serving grilled salmon instead of meat loaf they’re offering a vegetarian-friendly entree. Or you may end up in a situation where your hosts simply have no idea of what your needs are.

In those cases, you need to make the best of things.  Etiquette is, fundamentally, about behaving well under challenging circumstances. If all there is on the table that you can eat is bread and salad, do so – and, if you’re questioned, smile and say that they’re so delicious that you’re happy to enjoy them. Even if it’s disappointing, remember that’s it’s just for one meal – chat with your tablemates, enjoy the company and have a good time anyway!

If there’s absolutely nothing on the menu that you can eat, or your hostess sits a plate of animal food in front of you, do what children do – squish things around and mess up your plate.  Hide the meat under some lettuce, and leave some empty space so it looks like you ate something. If the conversation is compelling, most people won’t notice how much you did, or didn’t, eat.

Whatever happens, don’t make an issue of your diet. To be blunt, no one is really interested in what you can’t eat, and it’s considered rude to draw all of the conversation to yourself in such a manner anyway. If someone asks, tell them you’re vegetarian and steer the conversation to something else.

If you’re headed to a big social event like a wedding or a family dinner, and you think there might be challenges finding something to eat, then eat a light meal before you leave the house. Even under the worst circumstances there will be something for you to snack on, but you won’t be suffering from hunger pangs throughout the evening.

Being a great, meat-free hostess

Part of being a terrific host is anticipating your guests’ needs. Think about how you’d like to be treated when you go to dinner at a friend’s home – how about offering the same courtesy to them? When you invite guests to dinner, ask them if they have special dietary needs, or if there’s anything they absolutely hate. You’ll be surprised at what people have to say – some are allergic to bell peppers, or peanuts, or dairy. If you accommodate their needs that same way you’d like yours accommodated in a similar situation, you can make them feel extra welcome in your home.

One sure way to make everyone happy is to serve a variety of different dishes buffet style, allowing guests to fill their plates only with what they want.  It helps them to feel comfortable if they don’t want to eat something – no one will be looking at their plate and wondering why there’s still food there – and it’ll save you the effort of serving, so you have more time to enjoy your guests.

Only serve meat if you genuinely feel comfortable doing so. Some people will cook a chicken or fish dish for guests, but not partake of it themselves.  If you’re happy doing this, then go ahead. But if you aren’t, then make them the best vegetarian meal they’ve ever tasted, and show them how delicious eating meat-free can be!

CHAPTER 18 – How to Create a Vegetarian Supportive Environments At Work and At Play

You now have a lot of valuable tools at your disposal – you know how to plan meals, you know what nutrients you need to keep your body healthy, and you know how to feed your vegetarian child. You even know how to answer questions from others and make sure you have plenty of healthful food to eat at home, at school, and at work.

Making your new lifestyle work at home and in the office requires a lot of flexibility, good humor, and planning. By this point, though, you should feel up to the task! You’ve made excellent choices for your health and your future, and how you integrate it into the rest of your life will not only affect your relationships, but also how others view vegetarianism.

Meat-eaters and meat-free – managing a mixed marriage

All marriages are about compromise. You choose someone to spend the rest of your life with and, as time passes, you often find yourselves negotiating to find a middle ground that you can live with. One of you is messy, but the other is neat. He loves reality television, she adores opera. One partner may be a social butterfly but the other’s happy to stay home every night with a good book. Married couples figure out how to adapt to such differences, and a vegetarian/omnivore marriage has to negotiate many more obstacles than most.

It’s understandable, when you’re single and dating, to believe that your ideal partner will share all of your values. But that’s unrealistic – no two individuals are exactly alike, and the day-to-day struggle of paying bills, doing laundry, getting to work and raising children can sometimes make even the smallest difference seem enormous. As the popularity of vegetarianism increases, so do the number of “mixed marriages” between meat-eaters and non-meat eaters. You and your spouse may agree on a lot of things, but still disagree on how to eat.

The key to making it work is acceptance of each other’s choices. If you judge your spouse harshly for not joining you in your vegetarian journey, you may be turning them off entirely, closing the door to them making that step themselves in the future. No one likes to be told that they’re “bad,” particularly if they’re simply eating the same diet as most of the other people they see every day.

Try to keep in mind that your choice to become vegetarian was a personal one, and it has to be for them, too. You can’t control what your spouse eats – but you can control how you behave towards them.

Cherish the issues in your marriage that you agree on. There are probably far more of those than there are issues on which you don’t see eye-to-eye.

Acknowledge that your spouse’s diet isn’t meant to hurt you. If your partner eats meat, it isn’t a choice designed to make your life unhappy or more complicated. Try to respect  their decision, whether it is based on ethical principles, on convenience or on habit.

 Try to get your partner to compromise on certain foods. See if you can get them to eat soy hot dogs, veggie burgers and non-dairy cheese at home.

Never attack your spouse’s point of view, especially in public. Belittling your partner will only cause them to be resentful and more resistant to vegetarianism.

Try to find restaurants where you can eat together. Choose venues that offer both meat dishes and vegetarian options, so that you can enjoy a fine meal together.

Play an active role in shopping and preparing meals. Cook a variety of tasty, appealing meals so that your partner can see that the diet isn’t boring. Buy a few cookbooks and try new recipes to keep things interesting.

Be a positive role model. Allow your cheerful attitude and good health serve as an example of how great vegetarianism can be.

Don’t talk endlessly about your diet. If your partner is interested, the subject will come up naturally – but don’t lecture.

If you’ve agreed not to eat meat at home, accept that your spouse may eat meat sometimes when they’re not with you. Again, you can’t control what they eat, and nagging doesn’t help.

Eating together is one of the great pleasures of any relationship. Negotiate a menu plan that’s acceptable to both of you, and then enjoy your meals together!

Being vegetarian at work

If you work in a corporate environment, food is as much a part of your job as voice mail, computers and fluorescent lighting. Lunch is where you network, make deals and discuss contracts. Looking and acting professional in such situations is vital.

As a vegetarian this can pose a unique challenge. If everyone around you is ordering steak or chicken Caesar salads and you’re not eating much, it can call undue attention to your eating habits. Suddenly, no one’s talking about the deal – they’re talking about why you aren’t eating your lunch!

More and more people are choosing meatless lifestyles, but that doesn’t mean that being a vegetarian at work is easy. You’ve made a lifestyle choice dictated by your health and your ethics, but you have to walk the fine line of also fitting in with your colleagues. After all, if you’re too independent of a thinker, they might not believe that you’re still a team player. When you’re at work you want the focus to be on your work – not on what you eat. The same grace, good humor and tact that you use to deal with family and friends is even more important in the workplace.

CHAPTER 19 – Ethics, Beauty and Health – Saving the Earth, One Soyburger at a Time

By now you’ve learned pretty much everything you need to know about becoming a vegetarian, from ethics to nutrition to meal planning. Just don’t forget one of the biggest reasons that living a vegetarian lifestyle is a wonderful choice – what you eat affects the rest of the world.

Consider the effect of a meat-eating society on the planet:

Water and soil damage. 260 million acres of U.S. forest have disappeared, to make room for cropland to farm meat. To produce a one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water. The manufacture of a single hamburger patty takes enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 25 miles. It takes less water to produce a year’s worth of food for a vegetarian than to produce one month’s food for a meat-eater. Factory farms damage the environment in addition to the horrors they commit on the animals that they raise and slaughter. They use large quantities of fossil fuels and fresh water, and pollute the earth in return.

85 percent American topsoil – over 5 billion tons – is lost annually due to the raising of livestock. 26 billion tons of topsoil is lost annually on agricultural land worldwide. In the United States, one-third of the cropland has been permanently destroyed due to excessive soil erosion. By switching to a vegetarian diet, you alone spare an acre of trees every year.

Millions of acres of forests and wetlands have been leveled and drained to create pastures to feed the animals butchered for meat, destroying habitats for wildlife and disrupting the ecological balance. Irrigation of these pastures and croplands uses vast quantities of water, our most precious resource, and the water that runs off these lands takes with it  irreplaceable topsoil, turning millions of acres of lush cropland into desert. Along with waste products from factory farming and slaughterhouses, runoff from agribusiness contributes more pollution than all other human activities combined.

Depletion of rainforests. Between 1960 and 1985, nearly 40 percent of all Central American rain forests were destroyed to create pasture for beef cattle.  As the primary source of oxygen for the entire planet,  the survival of the rainforests is inextricably linked with the survival of mankind.  The unique flora and fauna found in the rain forests provide ingredients for many medicines used to treat and cure human illnesses, and scientists are continuing to find new medicines as they discover new plants available only in these regions – yet approximately 1,000 species go extinct every year due to destruction of tropical rainforests. By destroying the rain forests, we may be destroying the chance to cure AIDS, cancer or influenza.

Poison in the atmosphere. Two-thirds of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide are created by the burning of fossil fuels, and 200 gallons of fossil fuel are burned to produce the beef currently eaten by the average American family of four each year. Burning 200 gallons of fossil fuel releases two tonsof carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – by switching to a vegetarian diet, you’re cutting back on the amount of pollution in the air.

Poison in the workplace. The air inside factory farms contains a dangerous combination of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, bacteria, and decomposing fecal matter. A joint study by the University of Iowa and the American Lung Association concluded that 70 percent of the workers in indoor facilities on factory pig farms experience symptoms of respiratory illness. Chronic bronchitis is suffered by over 50 percent of all “swine confinement workers,” three times that of farmers who work in outdoor facilities. The turnover rate of workers in these conditions is understandably very high, and in some cases the owners of the factory farms have had to sell their businesses because they themselves were unable to work in their own farms.

Consider this, the next time you’re complaining about your job – the decomposing waste from pig pens is collected in pits below, causing a build-up of hydrogen sulfide. According to the American Lung Association report,”Animals have died and workers have become seriously ill in confinement buildings … Several workers have died when entering a pit during or soon after the emptying process to repair pumping equipment. Persons attempting to rescue these workers have also died.” The pigs living in these conditions breathe those toxic fumes every minute of their short lives.  Animals living in these conditions regularly contract pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses – yet another reason why they’re pumped full of antibiotics.

Economics.  Raising animals for food is,, to put it bluntly, a stupid way to feed a hungry world.  Livestock in the United States consume enough grain and soybeans to feed more than five times the nation’s population. One acre of pasture produces an average of 165 pounds of beef – the same acre could produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. If Americans reduced their consumption of meat by just 10 percent, it would save 12 million tonsof grain annually. That much grain could feed 60 million people each year. 60,000,000 !

Last Chapter 20 – The Path Ahead – Enjoying Your Vegetarian Lifestyle For the Rest of Your Life

Congratulations! If you’ve followed all the steps and taken the advice presented to you in this book – you’re a vegetarian! Now you have one more decision to make – whether you want to use your knowledge to reach out to other vegetarians and educate meat-eaters about the lifestyle. You don’t have to do this, of course. You can live your meat-free life quietly and on your own, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But now that you know what you do about vegetarianism’s value to individuals and the world, you may find you want to become a bit more active.

You don’t have to do it right this minute, of course. But many, many vegetarians find that it’s easier to maintain their lifestyle if they have the support of others who share the same values. As you now know, there are many reasons for becoming vegetarian, and people have all sorts of different reasons for going meat-free – and you may find that there’s a lot to learn by discovering the viewpoint of other vegetarians.

Even if you choose to travel this path alone, you’re an ambassador for vegetarianism. Your family, friends, co-workers and even strangers will see you as an example of meatless living, and as you meet more people and have more unique experiences of your own, your outlook, appearance and behavior will – for better or worse – be seen as that of a vegetarian person. So why not be the best vegetarian that you can be?

First impressions

Whether we like it or not, our appearance and actions are judged by others. If you’re telling a co-worker about the barbaric treatment of cows in factory farms while eating a cheese sandwich or discussing karma while wearing leather shoes, your audience may see you as a hypocrite. That’s not to say that you can’t be a good vegetarian and eat cheese or wear leather – but you need to be aware of when your actions and your words aren’t in sync.

Always practice good hygiene and dress neatly. Don’t play into society’s prejudices by exemplifying the stereotype of the “dirty hippy.” If you’re clean, neat and appropriately dressed, the people that you deal with will think, “Hey – you’re just like me!” They’ll hear your message because they relate to you, rather than being turned off due to their own preconceptions.

Making a connection

If you live in a small town, it may be difficult for you to find other vegetarians to talk to about the lifestyle. But don’t give up! If you have a college or university in your town, there’s probably a vegetarian group on campus – higher education and vegetarianism often go hand-in-hand. Watch for notices of vegetarian group meetings  posted on bulletin boards at colleges schools and community centers, as well as  libraries, supermarkets and other public places. Check out the ads in your local newspaper and look for natural food stores, bookstores or other shops that support alternative lifestyles. Visit them, and ask questions – in a small town, word of mouth is invaluable.

The Internet is also a great resources for vegetarians. There are hundreds of online groups, including message boards and recipe swap site, geared toward vegetarians. Not only are they a good source of discussion and community, they may be able to connect you with vegetarians in your own area.  

 If you still find yourself coming up short, take the initiative and start your own group! It’s highly unlikely that you’re the only vegetarian where you live, even in a rural area or a very small town. Take out a newspaper ad and throw a potluck at your home or local community center – you may be pleasantly surprised by how many people show up! Once you’ve got a group together, start a regular event where you all eat out at local restaurants.  You’ll not only help your community by supporting restaurants that cater to meat-free diners, you may also encourage other local businesses to take vegetarians into consideration when planning their menus.

As a newcomer to vegetarianism, you’ll probably find it helpful to socialize with others who share your point of view. Even the most well-meaning friends can be less than supportive of a lifestyle change, because they think they already know who you are and what you like. But by making connections with others who feel the same way, you’ll not only broaden your own social network, you’ll have a valuable resource for asking questions, sharing ideas and learning about other approaches to meat-free eating.

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