Vegetarianism in a Nutshell


What is a Vegetarian?
Making the Change to a Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarian Nutrition
Vitamin B12
Children and Vegetarianism
About The Vegetarian Resource Group
Vegetarian Literature
Vegetarian Teaching Materials
Did You Know All These People Advocated Vegetarianism?
Vegetarian Foods
Decreasing Fat Consumption

What is a Vegetarian?
Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and poultry. Vegans are vegetarians who abstain from eating or using all animal products, including milk, cheese, other dairy items, eggs, wool, silk, and leather. Among the many reasons for being a vegetarian are health, ecological, and religious concerns, dislike of meat, compassion for animals, belief in non-violence, and economics. The American Dietetic Association has affirmed that a vegetarian diet can meet all known nutrient needs. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Limit your intake of sweets and fatty foods.

Making the Change to a Vegetarian Diet
Many people become vegetarian instantly. They totally give up meat, fish and poultry overnight. Others make the change gradually. Do what works best for you.

Being a vegetarian is as hard or as easy as you choose to make it. Some people enjoy planning and preparing elaborate meals, while others opt for quick and easy vegetarian dishes.

Vegetarian Nutrition
Vegetarians easily meet their protein needs by eating a varied diet, as long as they consume enough calories to maintain their weight. It is not necessary to plan combinations of foods. A mixture of proteins throughout the day will provide enough "essential amino acids." Good protein sources are: lentils, tofu, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, tempeh, peas... Many common foods such as whole grain bread, greens, potatoes, pasta, and corn quickly add to protein intake.

Good iron sources are: dried beans, spinach, chard, beet greens, blackstrap molasses, bulgur, prune juice, and dried fruit are all good sources of iron. To increase the amount of iron absorbed at a meal eat a food containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruit or juices, tomato, or broccoli. Cooking food in iron cookware also adds to iron intake.

Good calcium sources are: collard greens, broccoli, kale, low fat dairy products, turnip greens, tofu prepared with calcium, and fortified soy milk all contain high quantities of calcium.

Vitamin B12
The adult recommended intake for vitamin B12 is very low. Vitamin B12 comes primarily from animal-derived foods. A diet containing dairy products or eggs provides adequate vitamin B12.

Fortified foods, such as Grape Nuts, some brands of nutritional yeast and soy milk, or some soy analogs, are good non-animal sources. Check labels to discover other products that are fortified with vitamin B12. Tempeh and sea vegetables may contain vitamin B12, but their content varies and may be unreliable. To be on the safe side, if you are one of the few people who do not consume dairy products, eggs, or fortified foods regularly, you can take a non-animal derived supplement. Much research still needs to be done on vitamin B12 needs and sources.

Children and Vegetarianism
According to The American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can meet all nitrogen needs and amino acid requirements for growth. A vegan diet, to be on the safe side, should be well planned, and probably include fortified soy milk.

Did You Know All These People Advocated Vegetarianism?

Leonardo Da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Isaac Bashevis Singer (Nobel Prize winner), Albert Einstein (Nobel Prize winner), Michael Jackson, Mr. Rogers, Clara Barton, Madonna, Paul McCartney... Did you know Benjamin Franklin ate tofu?

Vegetarian Recipes
Rigatoni Combination
(Meatless Meals for Working People)
1/3 pound rigatoni or other pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
1 small can tomato sauce
1 pound can kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Saute onions, garlic, and green pepper in oil 4-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in tomato sauce, kidney beans, soy sauce, salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Simmer several minutes. Drain pasta when done and stir into sauce. Serve as is, or add 1/2 Cup crumbled tofu or low-fat cottage cheese to each serving to make a lasagna-like dish. Add hot sauce if desired. (Decrease fat content - saute in water instead of oil or just brush the pan lightly with an oiled paper towel.) Serves 4.

Sweet Sauteed Red Cabbage
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1 apple, chopped
Small onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Use a non-stick pan, if possible, and heat ingredients, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Serves 4.

Spicy Potatoes, Cabbage & Peas Over Rice
2 cups rice
4 cups water
5 medium potatoes, peeled, and thinly sliced
2 cups water
1/2 green cabbage
10-ounce box of frozen peas (or equivalent fresh)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste (optional)

Cook rice in 4 cups water in a covered pot over medium-high heat until done.
In a separate pan, add sliced potatoes to 2 cups of water and heat over medium-high heat. Shred cabbage and add to potatoes. Add peas and spices. Cover pan. Continue heating, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Serve over rice. Serves 6.

Garbanzo Bean Burgers
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), mashed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 small onion, minced
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons oil

Mix the ingredients (except oil) in a bowl. Form 6 flat patties. Fry in oiled pan over medium-high heat until burgers are golden brown on each side. Serve alone with a mushroom or tomato sauce, or as a burger with lettuce and tomato. Makes 6 burgers.

Vegetarian Foods
Common vegetarian foods: macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, cheese pizza, eggplant parmesan, vegetable soup, pancakes, oatmeal, grilled cheese, bean tacos and burritos, vegetable lo mein, French toast, French fries, vegetable pot pie, fruit shakes, bread, yogurt, cheese lasagna, peanut butter and jam, fruit salad, corn flakes...

Some vegetarians also eat: tofu, tempeh, bulgur, lentils, millet, tahini, falafel, nutritional yeast, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, sprouts, chickpeas, tamari, kale, collards, carrot juice, barley, rice cakes, carob, split peas, kidney beans, soy burgers, kiwi fruit, papaya, blintzes, curry, nut loaf...

Decreasing Fat Consumption
Vegetarian diets may be lower in fat than typical American diets. However, for those people who need to be particularly cautious about the fat in their diet, below are tips for reducing fat. Extremely low-fat diets are not appropriate for everybody, especially children and pregnant women.

Saute in water instead of oil. You can use soy lecithin sprays or rub a little oil on the pan using a paper towel.

You can use half the amount of oil, or even less, called for in most recipes. The missing oil can be just omitted, or replaced by juice, or juice concentrate to make the item sweeter, or simply substitute water.

Remember: Only animal products (including dairy and eggs) contain cholesterol. Vegetable products do not contain any cholesterol. However, some vegetable products, such as coconut and palm oil, are high in saturated fat and may raise blood cholesterol levels.




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