By guest blogger, Lynn Davis
Only a decade ago, shopping in a smallish town in a mountain state, we took our cart piled high with fruit and vegetables to the cashier, and asked, “Do you have tofu?” She tilted her head to the side and asked, “You’re not from here, are you?”
“What do you eat?” folks sometimes ask, and vegetarian blogs suggest it’s a common question. Once, I began a list: alfalfa, amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, artichokes, avocados—and realized that few heard beyond “alfalfa.” Which I eat the seeds of just after sprouting. As the ads say, “Delicious and nutritious.”
Nowadays, even a mid-sized grocery store’s produce department carries a wide variety of fruits and vegetables—many you may have never tried! Look for new tastes wherever you’re accustomed to shopping. Be aware, though, that because chain stores need to limit the varieties of produce they sell (in the same way that they limit varieties of brands in all other products) by checking out shops that sell only produce you will find even more options, Produce stores and farmers markets provide shoppers with wider variety and fresher goods—and they are often organic or cheaper—or both!
Full nutrition is easily achieved by vegetarians. Protein comes in the form of soy products, including tofu and TVP—textured vegetable protein, aka soy flour—which is comprised of only protein and “good” fat. Other useful fats are found in nuts, seeds, and some vegetables—avocado springs to mind. Vegetarians do need to be aware of getting enough vitamin B12 in their diet, and many do so by using brewer’s yeast.
Where and how to start living as a vegetarian? Two different paths I see suggested:
- Make small changes in steps—perhaps enjoy one or two vegetarian meals a week until you find recipes you like; perhaps go to vegetarian restaurants; perhaps eliminate red meat entirely.
- Make the change total—decide what your vegetarian diet will look like, remove everything from your pantry, fridge, and freezer that don’t fit that, do a big shopping and go for it. Good time to decide if you’ll include fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy… many folks who consider themselves vegetarian use some or all of these.
The health benefits of reducing or eliminating red meat are pretty clear, but I’d be remiss as they say “in this age” to not mention the environmental benefits as well.
Our government recognizes the environmental benefits of a vegetable-based diet:
Environmental organizations tout the benefits:
Educational institutions recognize environmental benefits:
Our society is changing—in almost all facets—dramatically so in some cases, such as varying diets. Tofu and other meat substitutes can be found in all but the smallest towns, the internet provides sources for specialty foods, and farmers markets are now common.
That small-town store now carries tofu, soy milk, and sometimes alternate meat products. Yay for change. I hope you, too, try the vegetarian change!
Help to get started:
Lynn Davis: I was awarded a Masters in Teaching Writing by Humboldt State University in 1999, and I’m not sure if they made a mistake. Currently building a website for those needing a writing teacher/coach in order to find out.