|Commond Questions About Meatless Eating|
What do vegetarians eat?
The same foods everyone else eats, with the exception of
animal flesh of any kind, whether meat, fish, or poultry, as
well as broth, gelatin, and products made from animal flesh.
Vegetarians who are called vegans (vee-guns) do not
eat dairy products, eggs, or any other foods from animals.
Some vegetarians like to include fake meats in their diet—
veggie burgers and hot dogs, vegetarian deli “meats”
and “chik” nuggets. Other vegetarians prefer the
many meatless dishes from ethnic cuisines like Chinese,
Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern, or Indian. Some vegetarians
eat a mostly raw diet of fruits, uncooked vegetables,
sprouts, nuts, and seeds. Others are gourmet cooks who have
won Gold Medals at the International Culinary Olympics.
Whether you are a junk-food junkie, “health nut,”
or anything in between, you can find a vegetarian diet that
suits the way you like to eat.
What if I don’t
have time to cook?
You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing
vegetarian foods. For dinner you could sauté a bag of fresh
or frozen Stir-Fry Vegetables with some tofu cubes, add a
homemade or bottled Chinese seasoning sauce, and eat with
rice. Dinner in twenty minutes! You could heat some canned or
cooked pinto beans with taco seasonings, mash them, and wrap
in flour tortillas. Top with salsa for an easy main dish.
Most supermarkets now carry frozen vegetarian foods and the
selection is even larger at natural foods stores. You can
spend as much or as little time cooking as you feel like.
How can I get
Plant foods contain enough protein to meet the needs of both
adults and children. Contrary to popular misconceptions, you
do not need to carefully combine foods in order to get the
right balance of amino acids. The American Dietetic
Association states, “Plant sources of protein alone can
provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids if a
variety of plant foods are consumed and energy needs are met.
…[C]omplementary proteins do not need to be consumed at
the same time.” (from the American Dietetic
Association's Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets, http://www.eatright.org/adap1197.html)
Foods like dry beans and peas, tofu, seitan (“wheat meat”),
sesame seeds, and peanut butter contain large amounts of
Do I have to
make the change all at once?
You can if you want to. Some people find it is easiest to
make a quick, clean break with the past. Others prefer to
make changes in steps, perhaps eliminating red meat first,
then chicken, then fish. Do whatever works best for you.
children need to eat meat and drink milk in order to grow up
strong and healthy?
The American Dietetic Association confirms that appropriately
planned vegetarian and vegan diets can supply the nutrient
needs of children from infancy through adolescence (http://www.eatright.org/adap1197.html).
This means a variety of nutritious foods in quantities
sufficient to meet a child’s energy needs. Fortified
foods or supplemental vitamins and minerals can help when a
child is a picky eater.