Mom, Can I Be a Vegetarian?

Imagine the following scenario: You are a proud, loving parent. One day, your sprouting young adult announces the decision to become a vegetarian, just like that. Although this throws a wrench into your omnivorous family equation, you want to honor your child's dietary curiosity and allow space for exploration.

So you scrape the chicken cutlet off your budding vegetarian's plate and double up the helpings of starch and veg. And for the next six, eight years, that's the way dinner works -- meat for most, side dishes for one.

Simple, right? Your kid gets to be a vegetarian and the rest of the family is virtually unaffected by the dietary shift.

In the midst of your gallant efforts to keep the family boat from rocking, however, stuff begins to fall through the vegetarian cracks. Lo and behold, it appears that someone is playing with his vegetables and instead eating mashed potatoes for two. That vegetarian lunch served up at the cafeteria twice a week -- double-cheese pizza -- contains nary a vegetable. And somehow you forget that Tater Tots with ketchup are your kid's favorite after-school snack.

Just like that, your kid has become an overweight, malnourished "vegetarian" - aka a "carbotarian."

It's a scenario I hear about all too frequently.

As a culture, we have a bizarre relationship with food. Our interactions tend to be extremist - we either binge or we starve ourselves. Food is an object of obsession or denial, rather than a bridge that connects us to the land and to each other. As a result, the relationship is a one-sided, self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than an interactive tool that helps us better understand our bodies and our selves.

So, when that kid of yours expresses an interest in becoming a vegetarian, and you give the green light, there's an imperative for involvement and higher learning. It does take a village to make a healthy vegetarian, and it starts with you.

Together, you and your budding veg head can go to the library and peruse the stacks of vegetarian cookbooks. As a team, you'll decide on dishes to try and make as a family. You'll have at least one meatless meal per week, and all hands will be on deck in the kitchen. You'll shop together and learn what this journey is all about, in the produce aisles as well as at the farmer's market. You discover the zillion ways to prepare lentils, when fresh okra is in season and plant-based sources of calcium.

By the time that kid heads for college, he will have a repertoire of meatless recipes, cookbooks and an understanding of what being a vegetarian means. And you, fearless family leader, have expanded your culinary horizons and embraced the meaning of the word "moderation." If somewhere along the line, your new vegetarian has changed his mind, that's okay, too. Learning something new is never a waste of time.

Plan B may seem ambitious at first, but it's all within our reach. We live in the wealthiest nation on earth, with all kinds of resources at our disposal, at all hours. I propose that we all take a little more responsibility for the food we eat and each week, engage a little more intimately with our food. Buy that celery root you've always wanted to try! Do an online search of Taiwanese cookbooks or shop at the ethnic grocer in your neighborhood that you've long ignored. Small steps though they may be, you will surprised how the effort loosens your grip from the land of denial.

Dietary preferences aside, here's to being culinarily engaged! And if you've got a story or tip on how to better bridge the food gap in your household, please do so in the comments area below.

For some meatless meal ideas, check out the transcript of our recent What's Cooking vegetarian discussion.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 31, 2007; 10:38 AM ET Kitchen Musings , Vegetarian/Vegan
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Comments

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I'm tasked to make bbq meatballs for the Superbowl. I'm tired of the old grape jelly and bottled sauce recipe. Are there any other recipes that doesn't have too many ingredients? Thanks!

Posted by: GO COLTS! | January 31, 2007 11:54 AM

Sorry no vegans or vegetarians in my house. Neither is healthy lifestyle for an active athletic teenager. My children eat a well balanced diet. But a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet means they starve in our household. And I do 95% of the cooking. I strive to use local ingredients. I have a nice lamb roast for dinner. Little Janet was a very cute lamb but we have enjoyed her lamb chops, her leg(s) of lamb, stews and now roasts. And hey I do allow my teenagers to drink wine with dinner. Sorry vegans and vegetarians should be forcibly reeducated or turned into dog food.

Posted by: vaherder | January 31, 2007 12:07 PM

My parents were kind enough to help me through vegetarianism as a 13 yr old back in the 80's. I got to do a lot of the cooking after that to make things easier on everyone. Sure, I leaned toward cheesitarian at times. But now in my 30's (6 yrs vegan and counting), I'm the only one in the family who doesn't worry about heart disease, diabetes, etc. My cholesterol is under 150; my blood pressure is ideal and my weight is healthy. I lift weights and - if all goes well - will run my first marathon this year. I wish more parents would try more plant-centered dishes for their kids. We all know where the Standard American Diet has gotten us. Why not read up and try something else?

Posted by: NoVa | January 31, 2007 12:15 PM

The problem you describe isn't unique to vegetarians! To me, the protein is the concern. For my young vegetarian I often substitute frozen soy chicken nuggets for whatever protein we're having. She also eats a lot of yogurt, not all of it flavored, oatmeal, pancakes and beans. She does eat vegetables, but often prefers them frozen out of the freezer rather than fresh or cooked. She's still in elementary school, so her involvement in the cooking is rather limited. I am proud of her choice and wish to support it, though it does make mealtimes a little trickier.

Posted by: animal lover's mom | January 31, 2007 12:29 PM

Often the "okay, go ahead and be a vegetarian, but you're doing your own cooking!" rule prevailed against my friends as teenagers -- and as a result they ended up excellent cooks and surprisingly healthy eaters for their ages.

It is entirely possible to get one's nutrients from a plant-based diet. It just requires some flexibility and a willingness to try new things -- I introduced my (50-year-old) parents to tofu for the first time a few summers ago; they weren't gigantic fans but I gave them credit for trying. :)

And I find it odd that the poster above saying the athletes *can't* go veg -- my coaches always told me to go load up on carbs, not meat, before games/meets...and more often than not we were among the top local teams in the county.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 31, 2007 12:31 PM

I went 22 years with no fish or animal protein; for the past eight years, I've included a white fish or Alaska slamon once or twice per week. I finally came to the conclusion that these fish had a free life before they were killed for my consumption. (Never had a 'lobsta', tho I live within a ten minute walk of the Maine coast).

Of course, my health is escellent; my blood pressure is always athelete caliber.

But the major issue for me is the compassion and cruelty aspect of our globalized food industry. I truly feel good about my grains and plant based diet. I feel a deep peace with every aspect of my diet.

Others may wonder why America is such a violent culture and country.

Let's begin by looking at ourselves, and the food we ingest.

Posted by: Frederick | January 31, 2007 12:31 PM

vaherder: I was a very athletic (Jr. Olympic level) and active teen who became a vegetarian at 14. In order to do so, I had to research it, provide nutrition info, etc. to my dad so he knew that I understood what I was doing. Despite my schedule, I helped more with cooking. It all worked out and yup, I'm still a healthy vegetarian. You're view is outdated. You simply have to watch the food like you would even if you were not a vegetarian.
However, I would give my right arm for a simple, beginner-style vegetarian cookbook that doesn't require a trip to a specialty store with every meal. It would be a great addition in my house.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 31, 2007 12:35 PM

I have been a vegan since high school, my parents were very supportive as they really had meat only once a week or so the whole time my siblings and I were growing up. Later in life, both Mom and Dad gave up all meat, had fish once a week and both lived into their 80s in excellent health.
I say bravo to Frederick, every vegetarian should be so compassionate, altho I know many prefer this manner of eating for health reasons. But as my meat eating friends remind me, "the animals don't care why people don't eat them

Posted by: Gaithersburg | January 31, 2007 12:39 PM

"Vaherder's" comments are extremely uneducated and offensive. I don't think the Post should allow comments that suggest killing humans to be placed online.

First off, to suggest turning vegans and vegetarians into dog food is very hostile and really makes no sense. Why would you be against a vegan, and think they should be killed, when all they are doing is NOT eating something? I would have to guess that your hostility toward people living a peaceful lifestyle must be rooted in guilt. To say a lamb is cute, and then say it tastes good is so juvenile and dismisses any merit your comments may have had. There is no way to justify what goes on in factory farms - try reeducating yourself.

Secondly, I am a vegan long-distance runner, and let me tell you, it's the USDA and FDA who are telling you you need milk for healthy bones and meat for protein. Why? Money.

Athletes can most definitely be vegetarian and vegan. Again: reeducate yourself. It's simply not true that you need to consume animal's flesh and milk to be healthy and strong. Leafy greens provide calcium, beans and soy products such as tofu provide protein, and often provide calcium and iron when enriched. Plus, you do not have to worry about growth hormones in a glass of soy milk, not to mention the blood and pus that is also found in cow's milk.

I really hope you find enlightenment, vaherder, and at the very least stop wishing death on other people. And although I completely disagree with what vaherder said, I do not wish him/her to be turned into dog food.

Posted by: vavegan | January 31, 2007 12:42 PM

'A well-balanced vegan or vegetarian diet is safe and healthy for any person at any stage of life, including infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Vegetarian diets are packed with all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that growing children need. And meatless diets have many important health advantages: Vegetarians enjoy a reduced risk of
heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Since eating habits are
set in early childhood, choosing a vegetarian diet can give your child the
opportunity to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods--and to carry those
healthy eating habits into adulthood.'
(http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/nutritionfaq.html for more info)

I would also suggest that they look at the reality of animal agriculture,
the way it is destroying our earth, our health, that impoverished people
starve because of the wastefulness of animal agriculture. (feeding grain
to animals and then eating the animals-instead of just eating the
grains/veggies) and the horrifying way that non-human animals our treated
simply for our extravagent palates and selfish whims.
(www.meetyourmeat.com)
Also, eating veggies is not only nutritious but delicious...and maybe that you are the one who needs to be educated.
('reeducated' would imply that you were educated in the first place)

Posted by: Jessica | January 31, 2007 12:42 PM

Ouch, vaherder! I agree with the others. You are most certainly allowed to disagree, but your comments are rough around the edges. Please, let's all behave, and agree to disagree. Thank you!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | January 31, 2007 12:47 PM

Frederick's points do resonate with me; enough that I've made the move to buy only free-range eggs. I've seen how chickens are reared under USDA standards. Those wire cages have mesh floors that growing chicks get toes trapped in. Within 1-2 weeks after hatching, it is not unusual for every chick to be missing at least one toe.
And our taste for breast meat and disdain for drumsticks has produced a race of chickens that can barely stand up as their breasts grow much faster than the rest of the chick.
If everybody bought whole chicken, there would be much less pressure to breed deformed chickens-- in fact a counter-pressure since they can't simply hack off the too grossly deformed parts and sell the rest of the chickens.

There are always some basic stuff meat-eaters can do to reduce the profit margin of cruelty without giving up meat.

Funding more USDA inspection and improving care standards for livestock raised for meat would be one.
It pays off for us in health; research shows that hemarrhagic E. coli si much less prevalent in cows that have been fed grass and not subjected to high stress right before slaughter. Likewise, chickens are prone to numerous diseases, and are routinely fed arsenic as antibiotics.

At this point, being more moderate with meat-eating is much healthier overall (if not going vegetarian), possibly due to how the meat is reared, more than meat itself being bad.

After all, the Swedish have long lifespans, quite close to Japan and they eat MUCH more meat and saturated fat overall than the Japanese.


Posted by: Wilbrod | January 31, 2007 12:49 PM

A group of firefighters in Austin, Texas, decided to start cooking vegan meals after one of their members nearly died of a heart attack and needed to get control of his cholesterol levels. You can read their story at: http://www.engine2.org/

One fun way to bridge the gap between omnivores and vegetarians is to try an ethnic dish that doesn't use meat in the recipe. There are many ethnic dishes that are vegetarian but are still satisfying to omnivores, such as Chinese stir-fry with tofu or tempeh, fried rice with scrambled egg, chana masala (curried chick peas), aloo gobi (spiced potatoes and cauliflower), falafel, or spanikopita.

If you look at meat as an addition to your meal rather than as the main course, you can prepare vegetarian dishes such as minestrone, bean chili, spaghetti, red-beans-and-rice, quesadillas, burritos, or tacos, and have some cooked ground beef or sausage on the side for those who must have meat with their meal.

A good resource for those who want to try cooking various vegetarian or vegan recipes can be found at:

http://vegweb.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=497c71e294bbd34ad6e35c880f46d293&action=recipes

For the record, I eat meat and other animal products, but I have been experimenting with vegetarian and vegan recipes lately because I have some friends who are allergic to milk, others who are allergic to eggs, and one friend who is a vegan.

Posted by: Split-Shift Mom | January 31, 2007 12:55 PM

Vaherder's comments are outdated, offensive and plainly ignorant (both in the sense of rude and in the sense of not knowing what she's talking about). I am a vegetarian bodybuilder. I am 5'6", 190lbs, 7% body fat --all muscle -- and became a vegetarian in my teens. I simply could not kill and devour other living creatures. I am very healthy. Now, at almost 40, I look 10 years younger. A few months ago I went to a high school reunion. All my former class-mates were overweight, or out of shape. Normally, those who show concern about other animals and the world you live in, take better care of themselves as well

Posted by: vegetarian bodybuilder | January 31, 2007 12:59 PM

Four years ago our then 11 year old went vegetarian. It has not been particularly difficult. There are many meals we all eat vegetarian - many Italian and Asian dishes work just fine. The number of meat substitutes make it pretty easy. For example, the hamburger meat subs work fine in chiles, spaghetti, asian stir fries, etc. I don't see the big deal. I still eat steak and chicken when I want, using meat subs for my daughter. Time to get past these 80's issues. What's next...a debate about women's lib?

Posted by: Dee-El | January 31, 2007 1:06 PM

My 15 year old daughter is a vegetarian and I think our entire family is eating healthier as a result. I was concerned at first, wanted her to get all the necessary nutrients, but we have taken the time to educate ourselves. I believe her diet is more nutritious now, she eats less junk food. This can be a positive thing. We have friends who are vegetarian and vegan to help us with this journey and share recipes and tips. I no longer eat red meat and feel better for it.

Posted by: laura anne | January 31, 2007 1:14 PM

Vegetarians are just misguided children. They look at the world and are repelled when they see that life lives off of life. Faced with implications of mortality, they invoke a false morality that, in their delusions, separates them from hot blooded reality. In their teddy bear thinking it is alright to consume the hugely destructive monoculture soy, but agnostic forbid, they should eat an egg. They reject the fact that it was meat that made mankind, that fattened our brain, that fed our little ones in the Neolithic cold. And far worse still than their personal delusions is the utter disrespect, the contempt with which they dishonor our contract with the cattle, "We will keep you safe, we will keep you fed, we will care for your offspring, we will eat you and we will take to the stars".

Posted by: The Cow's Herald | January 31, 2007 1:14 PM

Vaherder sounds a little arrogant, don't you think? If his/her children are underage and drinking at home, they're breaking the law, too.

My dad worked in a meat packing plant after WWII and there were a lot of meats he wouldn't touch. Hot dogs and lunch meat are two, and he shyed away from hamburgers. He saw those things being produced. I can go for weeks without eating meat but occasionally enjoy seafood, have to occasionally become a carnivore because there's nothing else to choose from. However, I can't go vegan since eggs, dairy foods and cheese can be produced without killing animals.

One question -- if so many people are going vegetarian, why is the meat industry still booming? If they're such animal lovers, why isn't a dent being made in the raising and slaughter of animals?

Posted by: Southern Maryland | January 31, 2007 1:15 PM

Oh, if you think what vaherder said here, you should see some of the posts that he/she places on Marc Fishers blogs. This person is very uneducated and self-centered.

Posted by: maryland | January 31, 2007 1:15 PM

I definitey stay away from Smithfield pork products and Pilgrims Pride chicken. Both companies are very cruel to their animals. This is one step that everyone can take to help end cruelty. Yes, i know that some of you will post something to the effect that any meat that is eaten is cruel, so I'm prepared to read your reactions. Go ahead.

Posted by: Trying | January 31, 2007 1:18 PM

To add to the deluge: I have never been as happy and healthy as since I went totally veg 10 years ago. I run two ten milers and a marathon per year, play soccer, and lift weights three times a week. I am a 45 year old female who is 5'7" and 135 and most of that is muscle. I eat, nuts, eggs, milk products, whole grains, beans, lentils, soy, Quorn, fresh fruits and veggies, and get everything I need. I cook several mina courses on Sunday and eat them throughtout the week. My husand is not a 100% veg, he eats meat of all types, but the meat I cook for him is organic, free range, and hormone-free. Plus, he eats tons less since he met me (4 years ago) and his BP has plummeted along with his weight and body fat. (FYI, vaherder, Omega 3 acids, that people think they need to eat fish to get? They get into the fish from the fishes' eating water plants like hydrilla, a veg source.) FYI, my 18 year old daughter has been veg with me since age 8 (her choice). She goes for annual head to toe checkups and her doctor cannot heap enough praise on her for her state of health. Our ancestors only ate meatwhen they could catch it, and our teeth are not all canines. It is more than possible, in fact it is probable, that you would be healthier if you cut out the meat.

Posted by: Jean | January 31, 2007 1:20 PM

wow--what is with the vitriol vaherder and The Cow's Herald? Are you threatened or something? why do you CARE if we eat meat? and as to the nasty and snide "misguided children" comment, you might want to run a Google on famous vegetarians and reevaluate your comment.
Another wonderful source of REAL, unbiased, and balanced info is The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times
by Tristram Stuart. Wonderful read for ANYONE. (here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Bloodless-Revolution-Cultural-History-Vegetarianism/dp/0393052206)

Posted by: Jim | January 31, 2007 1:26 PM

i have been a veg for over 25 years (now in my late 40s). my child who is in 7th grade has always been veg. i am educated about what he eats, nutritionally. he is healthy but VERY thin - no fat. Any ideas on how to get some fat on him? (he already drinks organic milk, eats some cheese, etc.)

Posted by: another in frederick | January 31, 2007 1:31 PM

To another in Frederick: you want calorie dense foods for him, so nuts, nut butters, raisins (and other dried fruits), and try yogurt smoothies with protein powder and peanut or almond butter. Yummy

Posted by: LE | January 31, 2007 1:33 PM

I went "vegetarian" at 14, but really I went Carboterian. Pasta, potatoes, sandwiches, cheese, peanut butter etc. I had to cook my own meals, which helped start me on the path to eating real food. Then, in the college dorm, I just got sick of eating junk. I moved into a vegan co-op house and learned about natural local food. I was already a good cook, and this taught me what to cook. I am not vegan anymore, but I still eat many vegan meals because I feel better when I do. I eat tons of veggies, fruit, and whole grains now after being a terribly picky kid. Your carboterian kids can grow out of it if you give them the tools to do it. If they were like me, they probably ate carbo-junk-iterian before they went veggie.

Posted by: Reformed Carbo-terian | January 31, 2007 1:39 PM

Never was able to go veg, bot bored with the diet to quickly, and I was always hungry. Also had a hard time trying to `adapt` recipes that I knew how to cook with meat. Tofu doesn't hold up the same way chicken does for fajitas...

Posted by: dbishop | January 31, 2007 1:41 PM

I'm not a vegetarian, but I do agree we all need to eat more plants and less processed food. Did anyone read Michael Pollan's "Unhappy Meals" in the NYT magazine? Great piece.

An "oldie but goodie" habit that's been working for me: the veggie tray. I wash and cut up assorted raw veggies and put them in an attractive see-thru container. I then store it on a shelf in the fridge where it can't be missed. Tummy starts rumbling at 3pm - go to the veggie tray and grab some dip. Lately I've been on a guacamole kick. Yum.

Posted by: Molly | January 31, 2007 1:43 PM

to dbishop. Your issue might have been trying to "replace" instead of cooking creative and interesting meat-free meals that werre meat-free to start with. Buy an Indian cookbook and browse. Millions of Hindus and Buddhists eat interesting meals every day. I cook veg for my meat eating husband about 5 out of 7 days and he compliments me every time. Soups are also a good place to start. Take a bunch of veggies such as onions, potatoes, garlic, then add a squash. Roast all with olive oil. Puree with veg broth, and if you want, some flavored tofu. Etcetera etcetera. Look on epicurous.com. Plenty of meat free recipes there, too.

Posted by: Leanne | January 31, 2007 1:50 PM

leanne,
Thanks, I will take a peak at that site. I got curious and just discovered my favorite beer is veg friendly, so gold star to Yuengling.

Posted by: dbishop | January 31, 2007 1:55 PM

Let me second Molly's recommendation of of the Pollan article. Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

dbishop, if tofu doesn't hold up for fajitas, try seitan (look it up :)

last of all, which has more protein per calorie: broccoli or beef?

Posted by: fizz | January 31, 2007 1:56 PM

oops, dbishop, it is www.epicurious.com. bad typing by me! check advanced search and click the meat free box

Posted by: Leanne | January 31, 2007 1:58 PM

I'm not sure how helpful this article or the comments are. I have a 9 year-old who has never been much of a meat eater. I hide it in spaghetti sauces and soups but when I made a homemade chicken pot pie for her the other day she ate it with her fingers so she could pick out the peas and carrots and skip the chicken.

She is extremely active and needs all the calories and nutrients she can get. What are some good ways to get the right proteins in the diet of a young vegetarian?

Posted by: soccermom | January 31, 2007 2:10 PM

please do some research or re-read the comments. protein is overeaten in the US. Youc an get all the nutrients you need with beans, lentils, rice, soy, lots of fresh veggies and fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, skim milk products, and eggs. There are millions of healthy, tasty veg meals out there. one valuable place to start is Vegetarian Times Magazine. You might want to pick up a copy.

and "hiding" meat to trick your daughter is pretty cruel.

Posted by: Steve | January 31, 2007 2:14 PM

If the children of this nation actually knew what went on in the feedlots and slaughterhouses they would all want to be vegetarians.

The amount of ignorance that most adults display about where their food comes from is disgusting, and you only have to look around at the bloated population and rising rates of Type 2 diabetes to see the results.

People that eat meat should consider whether or not they would be able to look a "food animal" in the eye and then kill it for themselves. The disconnect that people have from the sources of what they eat becomes the same disconnect between what they eat and what it does to their bodies.

Posted by: maria | January 31, 2007 2:20 PM

I'd like to go veg, but due to allergies, I can't eat soy or wheat. So no tofu, no pasta, no tempeh, no cous cous. any suggestions out there?

Posted by: LN | January 31, 2007 2:20 PM

To vaherder, here are 3 very different types of athletes that perform (or have performed) at the top of their sports:
Bill Pearl - one of the world's best known bodybuilders
Carl Lewis - track and field star
Dwayne De Rosario - soccer professional

To The Cow's Herald:
There are many reasons for being vegetarian. Here are three: health, religion, animal rights. Not all vegetarians subscribe to just one or all of them. You may want to reconsider if you think that all vegetarians choose their diets for reasons of sympathy.

Posted by: Steven | January 31, 2007 2:21 PM

Just a couple of suggestions for the person who wanted an easy cookbook for beginner vegetarians that didn't require trips to specialty stores: Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven is much more accessible than the earlier Moosewood cookbooks, and recommends adapting recipes to the individual's taste (which every good cook does), and Almost Vegetarian is also good and accessible.

Posted by: Mostly Veg | January 31, 2007 2:23 PM

LN: try Quorn, made from mushroom-like fungus. they have patties, nuggests, cutlets, crubles, all available at MOMs in Alexandria. quite tasty. also, get your protein from milk, eggs, beans, nuts, etc. also, there is some GREAT pasta out there Ezekiel something, available at MOMs in an organge box. it is LOADED with protein and very delicious

Posted by: Leanne | January 31, 2007 2:23 PM

I second that query above about the vitriol against veggies. where is that coming from? why do people care one bit whether I eat meat or not and why so nasty to me about it? it is almost defensive, as if they are guilty or something. I just don't get why people on either side attack each other, really.

Posted by: LE | January 31, 2007 2:26 PM

sheesh, I meant nuggets and cutlets.....bad typing day!

Posted by: Leanne | January 31, 2007 2:28 PM

This blog has pics and ideas of what a mom packs for her vegan kid: http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/.

Posted by: zengy | January 31, 2007 2:29 PM

Another good cookbook: "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Crescent Dragonwagon" (really, that is her name). Also, a very nice one about moderation: "The Middle Path: a Vegetarian Awakening by Jay Disney" I second the Bloodless Revolution, above. Very interesting

Posted by: Jo | January 31, 2007 2:32 PM

Cow's Herald: Carnivores are uneducated numbskulls. They are immoral brutes that deny the fact that civilized humans do not need to slaughter animals for survival. Carnivores take pleasure in the fact that their food supply results in the torture of innocent animals. Unlike animals and humans of the past, carnivores have no need of meat for survival, but choose to murder animals for pure enjoyment.

There. I too can make a bunch of assumptions and generalizations about an entire group of people that is based in neither fact nor any sort of research.

Posted by: Plant's Herald | January 31, 2007 2:39 PM

for soccermom,

easy quick veg protein: lentil soups, soy patties, beans (burritos), nuts.

Posted by: another in frederick | January 31, 2007 2:43 PM

delish recipe from Vegetarian Times. I used acorn squash and served it with a dollop of yogurt on top:

Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

Serves 4

Packed with immune-enhancing vitamins to help speed recovery from colds and flu, this colorful and savory stew is laced with lots of fiery pepper. Serve with steamed greens and whole-grain rolls.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin
1 cup cubed potato, unpeeled
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
3 cups vegetable stock or canned broth
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen, thawed

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add pumpkin, potato, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and white pepper, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pumpkin and potato are tender, about 20 minutes. Add peas and cook just until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
PER SERVING:
156 Calories
6 Protein
4g Total Fat (1G Saturated Fat)
27g Carbohydrates
0mg Cholesterol
80mg Sodium
5g Fiber

Posted by: Jo | January 31, 2007 2:47 PM

here's another, also from V. Times:

Tandoori-Style Chickpeas

Serves 6 2 tsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced uncooked potatoes
1 tsp. peeled, grated fresh gingerroot
1 Tbs. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
16-oz. can diced tomatoes
16-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup water or tomato juice
1/2 of 10-oz. box frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper


In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, potatoes and ginger and cook, about 2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring often.
Add curry powder and cumin and cook 1 minute, stirring.
Add tomatoes and chickpeas; bring to a boil, stirring. Add water slowly and spinach. Place cauliflower on top of stew.
Cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, 10 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne.
PER SERVING:
161 Calories
7 Protein
3g Total Fat (0G Saturated Fat)
30g Carbohydrates
0mg Cholesterol
359mg Sodium
6g Fiber

Posted by: Jo | January 31, 2007 2:49 PM

For all those touting vegetarian food, check out the mortality rates of India, the country with the highest rate of vegetarianism. Heart disease and diabetes is a growing concern. A vegan or vegetarian diet is not as healthy as a balanced one, with both meat and vegatables.

Also, if you are concerned about the way animals are raised, eat organic or free-range, like I do. Just because the meat industry uses questionable practices doesn't mean that meat itself is bad.

Also, vegan diets for babies and children have led to malnutrition. Anyone remember the child who died from malnutrition because her parents fed her only soy milk, which don't have the nutrients that babies need. The parents were prosecuted for child endangerment.

Posted by: Omnivore | January 31, 2007 2:49 PM

To the poster who mentioned Smithfield Foods - after a campaign by the Humane Society, Smithfield has agreed to phase out gestation crates for their pigs. This is a small step towards more humane treatment for animals, but a significant one, as Smithfield is one of the biggest pork producers in America. I myself am not a pork eater, but its great to see some positive change for animals!

http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/smithfield_phases_out_crates.html

Posted by: SuperStudent | January 31, 2007 2:50 PM

for more, here's an online recipe search for Vegetarian Times (no I do not work for them!):

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/

Posted by: Jo | January 31, 2007 2:51 PM

To all you who still think you need meat for protein - cows are herbivores. They get their protein from plants. I've been a vegetarian for 20 years and I pass all physicals and stress tests. When all the omnivores around me are getting sick with the latest virus, I'm fine. Give it a try instead of getting hostile and defensive.

Posted by: cheshirekat | January 31, 2007 2:54 PM

Omnivore, thank you for finally clearing up the fact that a diet with meat is healthier than a vegetarian diet. Nobody should be concerned that your statements are based on anecdotal evidence (if that) and has been soundly rejected by organized medicine and the U.S. government.

Posted by: balanced veg*n | January 31, 2007 2:57 PM

My household is far from being purely vegetarian, but I would say that the scales tip in that favor more. Say 80% veg 20% meat. My kids being 11 and 6 have never shyed away from vegetables and eat them without complaints. I think people have too much of a narrow view to think that vegetables, lentils,etc don't provide the nutrition that meats provides..I guess that's why we have such a huge heart rate disease. I've never know a disease being caused because I ate too many vegetables....We need to make vegetables more of the main dish and the meats the side.....

Posted by: Not vegan but more vegetables... | January 31, 2007 3:03 PM

I guess we should tell the millions of Buddhists and Hindus that they have to eat meat because they cannot be healthy without it.

Posted by: dave | January 31, 2007 3:06 PM

Rastafarians, too (for religious reasons)! I find when I travel in the Caribbean, I can find veg food easily on islands where there is a Rasta population.

Posted by: Lou | January 31, 2007 3:12 PM

Omnivore, Indian food is heavy on saturated fat (ghee) and frying. It is not necessarily low fat or calorie OR vegetarian (not all Indians are veggies), and large swaths of India and Japan and China now eat McDonalds and "western" diseases are on the rise. We have exported our heart disease to them.

Posted by: LE | January 31, 2007 3:14 PM

Golly, this blog is full of people that are full of themselves! I eat fish and some chicken and I'm very healthy. Also, I'm not overweight. Turn your nose at me if you wish, but I'm just as healthy as most vegans.

Posted by: Wow | January 31, 2007 3:15 PM

Omnivore: while I guess it a good sign that people are at least thinking about "free-range" or "cage-free" animals, the truth is there is no such thing as free-range. A free-range cow does not prance about in a sunny, green field. Check out Compassion Over Killing's web site, www.cok.net for more info on such baseless claims as "cage-free", "free-range" or "cruelty-free." There is no humane way to raise animals in factory farm environments. Period.

I'm also guessing poverty and sanitation might be more of an issue in countries like India - not vegetarianism. Just sayin'.

Soccermom: I would say that more beans (like a 3-bean salad in her lunch), or a veggie burger, peanut butter & jelly, or mixed nuts would all be good ways to work protein and calories into an active girl's daily diet. Please don't hide the meat on her!

Posted by: vavegan | January 31, 2007 3:18 PM

I think the high mortality rates in India might have to do with the unsanitary living conditions, rampant disease and poverty, not the fact they are vegetarian.
No, it's not a good idea for babies and toddlers to be vegan because they need the calcium from milk for teeth and bones. Have a little common sense, for Pete's sake. Don't ruin your child's health just to make a statement.

One more reason to become vegetarian -- Did you ever get a fortune cookie in a Chinese restaurant that said 'That wasn't chicken.' I, for one, definitely want to know what I'm putting in my mouth.

Posted by: Just Lurkin' Today | January 31, 2007 3:19 PM

hey, I like Veg Times recipes, too. here's one I just made.

Lentil Pilaf

Serves 4 1/2 cup dry white wine or apple juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/3 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 bay leaf
2 cups vegetable stock or canned broth
Low-sodium tamari or soy sauce to taste


In large nonstick skillet, bring wine or juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, carrots, celery, rice and lentils. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add black beans, basil, cumin, curry powder, hot pepper sauce and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until lentils and rice are tender. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season with tamari or soy sauce to taste.
PER SERVING:
283 Calories
10 Protein
2g Total Fat (0G Saturated Fat)
55g Carbohydrates
0mg Cholesterol
626mg Sodium
10g Fiber

Posted by: ArlingtonVeg | January 31, 2007 3:22 PM

Try a google search on Land O Lakes meatballs -- a WONDERFUL sweet and sour cocktail meatbal. I just make my own meatballs, then use this sauce. It is great, and it DISAPPEARS at parties. If you put it in a crockpot on "warm" they'll be fine.

Posted by: meatballs | January 31, 2007 3:35 PM

Another suggestion for the person looking for easy vegetarian cookbooks: any of Jeanne Lemlin's books. The recipes are simple, straightforward, and delicious, and we usually have all the ingredients at hand.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 31, 2007 3:58 PM

"A free-range cow does not prance about in a sunny, green field"

Around where I live (upstate NY), they do.

Posted by: Dee | January 31, 2007 3:58 PM

LE is oversimplifying the Indian diet, focusing on ghee and frying. Yes, ghee was heavily used in the past, not so much anymore, as people are becoming more aware (and ghee is expensive!). Fried foods are primarily "street food" snacks, which were traditionally eaten infrequently or never (e.g., orthodox Brahmins who would not eat food cooked outside their homes). There is very little deep-fried food cooked at home for everyday meals.

I grew up eating Indian vegetarian food every day, and the basic meal idea is a lentil dish (some form of dal, occasionally chickpeas), rice and/or wheat bread (chapatis, NOT naan, which is restaurant fare), and two to three vegetable dishes. Add yogurt and chutney, and that was our normal meal. Note that cooking was done without onions or garlic, and we used only a small amount of cooking oil. The "poor man's" diet in India was generally the same, without the rice and with fewer vegetable dishes. Very healthy, and still the best food in the world! And you really can't find it at any Indian restaurant I've ever been to in this country.

I think the vegetarians who have the hardest time are those who try to find "fake meat" substitutes for their normal diets. You need to think broadly, and well beyond just vegetizing meat and potatoes food.

Posted by: happyveg | January 31, 2007 4:04 PM

I decided to try vegetarianism when I was in the 6th grade. Mom made it clear that she wasn't going to cook multiple meals, but encouraged me to investigate it and cook for myself. I was already cooking dinner about one night a week anyway, so we just made that vegetarian. Even my meat-and-potatoes brother usually liked it. Mom gave me a vegetarian cookbook for Christmas that year. It's Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin and I still use it. I learned about good nutrition (protein isn't the problem as much as iron, vitamin b12, and calcium, all of which can be managed with a little planning), had a minor bout of anemia which resulted in a lecture from my Hindu doctor, and eventually gave it up. It was just too much work at that time, especially considering that I didn't have ethical or health objections to meat. I just wasn't keen on the flavor and texture of it. I suppose that's easier to accept than violating principles. I played with going veggie later in life, off and on. Nowadays, I frequently go a long time without beef, pork, or poultry, but there is no way I'm giving up fish and seafood! Veggie meals outnumber meat meals, even with my practically carnivorous husband. While I don't wish parents to become short-order cooks, encouragement goes a long way. I like Kim's Plan B idea.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | January 31, 2007 4:06 PM

Let me take take India question. Living first 18 years of my life there should qualify me? :)

Mortality rates of India from my knowledge are probably more related to malnutrition and health-care. Heart disease and diabetes is a growing concern- yes, but it's more prevalent in middle/upper class (i.e. Lifestyle. You are do a search)

I have always eaten meat pretty much everyday (limited red meat though). Last summer, I got sick (not because of meat) and just gave up on meat, I don't know why. But I eat fish and very occassionally chicken. I face 2 issues, although I can find enough food outside, I don't know what to make at home given I like something quick. Secondly I just had mexican veg plate for lunch, I am hungry again :)

On the plus side my acid reflux is under control (coincidence but it works for me) and 'feel' healthier.

So I am going to try this for a while unless I get really really hungry !

Posted by: jj | January 31, 2007 4:14 PM

For all those vegetarians who tout how healthy they are, I can tell you that I am a very healthy omnivore. Low cholesterol levels, low blood pressure, haven't been sick in years. BTW, if you don't want to get colds or the flu, just wash your hands. My vegetarian husband, on the other hand, has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and is sick all the time.

People automatically assume that if you eat meat, that's all you eat. The truth is that humans are designed to be omnivores; that is, you eat everything. I get all my servings of vegetables and fruits every day, as well as meat. And I exercise, which is what really makes a diffence.

Posted by: Omnivore | January 31, 2007 4:16 PM

High mortality rates in India is due to people started forgetting Veg. food

Posted by: Vegielover | January 31, 2007 4:18 PM

Soccermom, I think you are overly concerned about protein. Not that it isn't important, just that she's probably already eating plenty of it even without eating meat. But if you are still concerned.... Does she eat nuts like in PB&J sandwiches? There's your protein. Does she like beans? There's your protein. Does she like eggs and milk/yogurt? There's your protein. Does she like oatmeal or cereal in the morning? There's your protein. If you are still worried, blend in some silken tofu with some fruit into a yummy smoothie. Soy is a wonderful complete source of protein.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | January 31, 2007 4:24 PM

Thanks for the tips on feeding my miniature vegetarian. She does like beans and I always have them around for when the rest of us get served a hunk of meat. She also likes peanut butter and I often give her that for a quick snack before sports. But I know that not all protein is the same and that meat is the one complete source.

I do like the soy in the smoothie idea. I can use that.

Posted by: soccermom | January 31, 2007 4:31 PM

JJ, the key to not being full is eating non-calorie-dense foods (meaning high fiber, low calorie, you fill up without extra weight gain). Opposites of this are fried foods, chips, etc. So bulk up. Also, soups with stuff in them are wonderful. I had a chick pea, lentil, and vegetable soup and an apple 4.5 hours ago and am still stuffed. Finally, add some, not a lot, healthy fat to the meal, and that creates fullness, and finish the meal with a sweet. I usually have some hard candy or a small piece of dark chocolate. it is proven that a sweet after a meal helps your body feel fuller, longer (but a low-fat, healthy sweet--no license for ice cream sundae here!)

and good luck. I went veg, and cut out greasy, fatty foods, after disgnosis of acid reflex 5 years ago, and haven't had a problem for 4 years, 11 months.

Posted by: Dave | January 31, 2007 4:36 PM

Soccermom, I highly highly recommend you read at least the into to The Middle Path, by Jay Disney (check Amazon.com). he discusses the whole "complete protein" issue, and separates fact from fiction, very well. He is a sane, moderate person who also happens to be a veg, but doesn't condemn those who are not.

Posted by: LE | January 31, 2007 4:38 PM

intro, not into.!

Posted by: LE | January 31, 2007 4:39 PM

All the fats in beans and fruits like avocados are good fats that actually reduce your levels of bad fats.

Other than hydrilla and krill, where can I get my omega 3 and 6 fatty acids?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 31, 2007 5:09 PM

Wow, some of the herbivores have gone from making a private personal choice, to making a religious statement. What ever happened to laissez faire? I don't deominize or lionize you for eating lentils, so leave me alone about eating chicken. Militant vegitarianism is no different than militant Islam. When you use terrorist tactics to destroy an XYZ farm or try to prevent others from eating the food of their choice, you have become exactly like terrorists killing infidels or theocracies forcing sharia law. Freedom means not forcing your beliefs on others, not just being able to choose what you believe.

Posted by: omnivore | January 31, 2007 5:19 PM

I am one of those persons who had meat for a long time and quit 7 years ago, as I was just fed up of eating. No religion, sympathy etc and I dont tout Vegetarian (or any other diet preference) as being the best diet.

In India if there is high mortality rate, its due to the malnutrition,poverty, change on lifestyle, where the upper class indulges in a lot of sugars and carbs. And there might be many more reasons, of which Vegetarian is not

The key to good health, Vegetarian/Meat Eating is to eat HEALTHY.
Eating Potatoes and bread though is vegetarian is not healthy, the same way with lots of meat and oil.

Regarding the cruel environments on how the chickens are bred or how the cows are fed, not all meat eaters are doing a wrong thing. Eating organic or free-range chicken or grass fed cows are healthy.

Anything you eat is a matter of your Choice, Meat vs Vegetarian vs Vegan.

Have a question for Vegan, please take no offense, its a genuine one.
In India, there are Jains(another religion), who in some religious months, dont eat any plant food as in fruits, vegetables, roots, flowers or anything that has life. Thier diet during those days is purely, seeds as in rice, and other grains and dried lentils etc which have no life, as they feel they are taking away the life and hurting that plant. Since Vegan is against cruelty to living things, why is it not a cruel thing to eat a plant. Just because we dont hear them cry or bleed?? I however, do appreciate that a lot of thought is being shown toward how animals are treated and help promote their breeding the right way. The awareness they spread, I hope to believe will help increase the way meat is produces(organic and free range)

Thanks!

P.S. Kim, guess this has been a very touchy issue and would love to see an article which supports both Veggies and Meat and which could convince either parties not to fight each other. It's all a matter of preference and good eating habits that lead to a good long healthy life!!!


Posted by: Veggie on India and General Health | January 31, 2007 5:29 PM

Veggie on India and General Health: I had NO idea this post would generate so much conversation. My thrust in today's piece was to encourage communication, openmindedness and moderatio, regarldless of the diet you choose. Your point about omnivores and vegetarians battling it out is well taken, and I do hope at the very least, we can, as I mentioned earlier, agree to disagree, and learn from each other's differences. Thanks to all --- this is a new threshold for interactivity today!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | January 31, 2007 5:33 PM

Seems like there are several distinct viewpoints here, which can generally be grouped as follows:

1. Vegetarianism is not healthy, esp because of insufficient protein (as a vegetarian, I disagree).

2. You can avoid much of the "animal cruelty" issues by buying free-range meat. (I generally agree).

3. Vegetarians are self-righteous. (Unfortunately, I agree this is sometimes the case, e.g., vegetarians who expect to get good vegetarian entrees at a steakhouse).

4. Vegetarian food is boring and not filling enough. (I agree this is often the case in the US)

5. Non-veg diet can be as healthy as a veg diet (I agree).

Kim, I also agree with the other poster about a column dedicated to the "veg-non/veg" issues, which can be as controversial as smokers vs non-smokers!! Just read Tom's restaurant chat for a sampling!

Posted by: happyveg | January 31, 2007 5:37 PM

I eat meat sometimes, but yesterday I had a pretty good vegan dinner, and I didn't miss the meat because the chickpeas in the morracan chickpea tangine (plenty of herbs, spices, tomatoes, onions, pepeprs), and hot bulgur with cukes, parsely, cilantro, mint, and pinenuts. Mmmm...I'm gonna have leftovers tonight.

Posted by: Rita | January 31, 2007 5:41 PM

All those vegetarians pillorying meat-eaters for the unhealthy practices used in conventionally raised meat and poultry should also examine the harmful effects of conventional agriculture. Tons of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer is dumped into our soil and water by farms, poisons everything we eat and drink, causes cancer and other health problems. Should we stop eating fruits and vegetables?

Posted by: Omnivore | January 31, 2007 6:27 PM

As a biologist I know that, yes there are much more nutrients in grains and other plant matter then most meat, but the problem is that the human digestive system cannot process most of it. It is why ruminents such as cows have developed highly advanced digestive tracts that can process such food. So we get more of the nutrients from plants by eating animals that eat the plants.
That being said in defense of us meat eaters, I would also like to point out that despite eating meat I do try to keep up my intake of veggies and absolutely love the cookbooks from the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, NY for Vegitarian and Vegan recipies.
http://www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/

Posted by: That guy | January 31, 2007 7:05 PM

You vegetarians and vegans who have given up eating up all those poor little animals -- now, take the next logical and compassionate step, and quit murdering and eating all those poor little innocent plants, that have never wished you any harm! Plants have feelings too!

Posted by: A Vegetable Rights Activist | January 31, 2007 7:36 PM

Kim,

I doubt that this would have gotten so many comments had one of the first posts not mentioned the genocide of vegetarians. It is irresponsible to have left that post by vaherder, given the policy that "[u]ser reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site."

It is interesting to note that few (if any) of the posts by vegetarians attempted to attack meateaters for their preferences to eat meat. Vegetarians and vegans are often on the defensive already as being "out of the norm", especially in the United States. Having the comments start out with a post that wishes violences on a group of people that are already on the defensive ruined the discussion, in my opinion.

The attitudes of many of the anti-vegetarians resemble fascism. They dislike a group of people because they are different and they don't understand them. That is the sad truth.

Posted by: veggie friend | January 31, 2007 8:06 PM

I've been a vegetarian my entire life (Hindu) and married a committed meat-eater. Within 3 years he'd converted with no pressure whatsoever on my part -- just seeing the breadth and variety of my diet and noticing how much healthier he felt when eating my home cooking, he decided on his own to leave meat behind entirely. I didn't even know he had become a vegetarian (there is no meat in our house) until I'd heard him telling somebody else about six months after he'd had his last burger. He still won't eat tofu, though, although in our household panir (curd cheese) is practically a staple.

Many Westerners have the misconception that the vegetarian diet is boring and flavorless -- nothing could be farther from the truth. Food for thought: How many kinds of animals do humans eat? And how many varieties of plants?

For easy to make, amazing vegetarian dishes, you can't go wrong with any of Kurma dasa's cookbooks -- his website is kurma.net and includes recipes. Cooking had no attraction for me until I got one of his cookbooks.

Posted by: mahafoye | January 31, 2007 8:40 PM

veggie friend, if you want to judge all meat-eaters just by one post from vaherder, then you are no better than vaherder. People need to respect others. Period.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 1, 2007 7:54 AM

I did not judge all meat-eaters. Read the post: "The attitudes of MANY of the anti-vegetarians resemble fascism . . . ."

That is an accurate statement if you read not only vaherder's post, but also if you read the posts that state vegetarians are "misguided children" or terrorists. Also, if you were a vegetarian living among meat-eaters, you would know that this is a common attitude.

Even if I had judged all meat-eaters, which I didn't, I would still not be at the level of vaherder - after all, I didn't state that even one meat-eater should be killed (much less all of them).

Posted by: veggie friend | February 1, 2007 9:13 AM

re Omega 3s: flax seed, too. here is a nice article:

http://www.andrews.edu/NUFS/essentialfat.htm

Posted by: Omega veggie | February 1, 2007 10:36 AM

My doctor recommends spirulina for Omega 3s, as well.

Posted by: LE | February 1, 2007 10:48 AM

Kim, if you want a lot of comments, post a question like "Should I remain childless or produce another living human being I don't have the time or energy to care for." Those jackels who post on Leslie Morgan's blog are out for blood.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | February 1, 2007 11:46 AM

Southern Maryland, this is a food chat. Go back to the Leslie Morgan chat if you require cat fights. We are grown grown adults. (well, most of us).

Posted by: foodie | February 1, 2007 11:55 AM

My eldest daughter has been a vegetarian for at least 4 years now, since she was 12. She eats a healthy, balanced diet. Certainly more healthy and balanced than her friends who live on chicken nuggets, burgers and fries and would never touch a vegetable. The rest of us in the family aren't vegetarians, but her diet has improved our diets tremendously. Because it's easier to make one entree, I typically only serve meat once a week, if that much. When I do, I make a parallel meal for her. So if I'm doing beef stew in the crockpot, she gets all the same vegetables plus mushrooms in her stew (with a veg gravy) cooked in a small crockpot. Occasionally we'll do soy meat substitute meals, like in tacos or sloppy joes. The best are recipes where you can add in your own fixin's. For instance, I'll make some chinese sesame noodles and mix in the vegetables, but put a variety of cooked meats and tofu in bowls on the table so everyone can personalize their own plate. Or we'll do a salad buffet on the table, with lots of choices including chickpeas and other non-meat proteins. My daughter has no problem eating a balanced diet at home. It's in restaurants that she has trouble. Why does every restaurant think that all vegetarians eat is zucchini squash and eggplant and bell peppers? She eats pretty much any vegetable except those, but those are what usually constitute the "vegetarian plate" at most restaurants. So then she's stuck with a plate of pasta, hold the meat please, and ends up being a carbotarian, but not by choice.

Posted by: Upstate veg mom | February 1, 2007 1:09 PM

tamen, upsate veg mom. If I see another plate of limp, overcooked yellow squash, zucchini, and green peppers, I will gag. Time and time again, a pile of them, overcooked and slick with oil or butter, on a pile of white rice. Yuo think chefs would want to be a bit more creative. (also, the tired old overcooked, dried out portobello-mushroom-as-entree. there are lots more options out there, chefs!)

Posted by: Alexandria Veg | February 1, 2007 1:12 PM

Wow I can't believe all these posts! My family is Seventh Day Adventist but since my mom's family always ate meat growing up, we were omnivores the whole time growing up. However, going to vegetarian potlucks, dinner on Saturdays after church, or going to the homes of other SDAs I was around vegetarian meals all my life. So vegetarian meal preparation and dining are not at all unfamiliar nor unwelcome to me. As an adult I'm a total omnivore, but have no problem putting out a vegetarian spread when necessary, like around the holidays or at Thanksgiving. My mom used a lot of canned vegetarian products when I was growing up, but nowadays more things are made from scratch and they need not be meat imitations. There are so many satisfying vegetables and grains that can be the base for some delicious dishes. Cooking a vegan dinner for a friend a couple of months ago was a real challenge, but I discovered that Ethiopian yielded a really flavorful menu that I enjoyed researching and cooking and sharing!

Posted by: Sean | February 1, 2007 1:45 PM

Upstate Veg Mom,

You are exactly right - restaurants are a challenge! I've been vegetarian (not vegan, although I don't like eggs or milk) for more than 25 years, not for moral or health reasons, just because veggies, grains, and yes, cheese, are the foods I most enjoy. But I travel a lot on business and thus eat out a lot.

I can generally find great vegetarian at high end restaurants. However, I've recently added seafood back to my diet so that I don't have to endure one more plate of tasteless pasta with limp, greasy vegetables and red suace at a mid-range restaurant - or at a business conference meal.

However, more and more, I find I'm ordering fish/seafood (never fried) at top-notch restaurants as a treat I wouldn't cook at home. Usually the plates have plenty of veggies and the fish/seafood is one element of a complete meal.

To Kim's original point - a bit of fish here and there is helping me eat healthier when circumstances limit my choices and helping me not be a carbotarian - something we all can agree is not healthy.

Bon Appetit!

Posted by: Jan | February 1, 2007 9:36 PM

To the person saying meat is the only complete protein, Quinoa is also a complete protein and can easily be substituted for rice or couscous. Plus it's not difficult to make complete proteins if that's what you're worried about. Eat rice and beans together, have hummus with some pita bread, couscous with garbanzo beans, black beans with corn...the list goes on and on. Getting enough protein is def not an issue when you eat a varied diet.

Posted by: Phillyveggie | February 2, 2007 4:01 PM

Concerning India, the diabetes problem is in a large part related to the popularity of foods with refined sugars in them, paired with an affinity for sweets, compounded by a genetic disposition towards getting diabetes. Check the NYT piece on this, it's pretty gnarly.

Cheers

Posted by: Peter | February 5, 2007 2:08 PM

I became a vegan recently after reading SLAUGHTERHOUSE by Gail Eisnitz. To any meateater, I would challenge you to read this book and then go out and order a steak or burger. Better yet, try to read the book while eating a burger.

http://www.exploreveg.org/issues/slaughterhouse/

Personally, I don't miss meat and dairy products as much as I thought I might... the headaches I use to get almost daily have subsided and I have tons of energy also. I am still cooking meat for my teenager, who has no desire to become a vegetarian, and I respect that.

This diet and lifestyle is a personal choice for me, and I will not frown upon friends who may eat steak or chicken in front of me. I do however, have the right to defend my choice without being bashed.

Posted by: Katherine | February 6, 2007 11:06 AM

Another great site:

http://www.madcowboy.com/

This is site of the rancher who refuses to eat beef, take it from someone who knows.

Posted by: Mary | February 6, 2007 12:20 PM

I went through this phase when I was 14---I am 24 now---and I wish my parents would have been a wee bit more supportive and helpful. I too became a "carb-lover" and didn't understand the neccesity of getting complete proteins in my diet until afterward. Cheese sandwiches and pasta can not sustain you for very long.

Although I eat meat about once a week now, I learned to eat a lot healthier as a result and I tend to prefer the lower fat meat substitutes to cooking with the real thing. I can't wait until I have a teenager that goes through this same experience sometime in the future. Hopefully I will be a better resource than my parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2007 1:10 PM

Or you could end up with a teenager who says, "Mom, I'd like to have some meat." This happened to a vegetarian relative. She refused to have meat in the house, so her son would go to MacDonald's. Even worse, once he left home, he refused to eat any vegetables. He's in his late twenties and still takes the vegetables off his burger. Unintended consequences.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2007 2:32 PM

I have a related question; I am newly vegetarian, mostly for health reasons, followed by environmental and animal welfare. So far I am loving it! My question is about feeding my cat; I have kept on feeding her regular cat food since cats are mostly carnivores and I don't think a veggie diet would be good for her. But it makes me a little uneasy to think about where her food is coming from (horror stories about grade F meat, etc.). What do other vegetarians out there feed their cats (or dogs)? Are there recommendations for some pet food companies that are better than others when it comes to factory conditions, etc.? I've been so busy researching my own diet that I haven't gotten to hers yet. thanks!

Posted by: newlyveg | February 7, 2007 3:15 PM

I feed my cat Wysong brand 100% meat. it is from cruelty-free meat, no antibiotics, etc. I get it at the pet store in the Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria (at King and Braddock Rds), but you can look at their site to find other distributors. http://www.wysong.net/
Also, buy a Vegetarian Times and they usually have ads in the back for pet foods that are cruelty free. also, check out this site: http://search.onlynaturalpet.com/search.aspx?searchterms=wysong-food&click=11&OVRAW=wysong%20pet%20food&OVKEY=wysong%20pet%20food&OVMTC=standard

Posted by: Anonymous | February 7, 2007 4:08 PM

Whatever you do, don't try to make your cat a vegetarian. She's a carnivore and will die without a meat based diet. Same for dogs.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 9:53 AM

right, I concur. the links I posted were to 100% meat diets. Cats need meat, and taurine, or they will die. I feed my cat the 100% meat Wysong with the addition of vitamins containing taurine and some fish oil supplement, all from natural and cruelty free sources. He is happy and healthy.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:00 AM

dogs actually can go veg, and there is nutritionally correct veg food for dogs. they are omnivores, unlike cats who are true carnivores.

Posted by: DC Vet | February 8, 2007 11:01 AM

PETA has a list of animal-friendly cat/dog food producers on their website. Here's another one you can check out:

http://www.caringconsumer.com/resources_foodguide.asp

This caring consumer site is useful, as it also has lists of clothing and other companies that are animal/environment friendly.

Good luck.

Posted by: Newly Veg ALSO | February 12, 2007 11:48 AM

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