The Comparative Anatomy of Eating

* Earthsave Health Articles

STEPS TOWARD BECOMING A VEGETARIAN

Steve Best

I. PREPARATIONS:

1) GET REAL: You know that the meat and dairy industries are one of the most powerful forces of deception in our world and that consuming their products destroys our health, the environment, and the lives of billions of animals every year.

2) GET READY: to have more energy, to lose weight, to look and feel great. The change you are about to make is not a fad diet; it is a life-long commitment to your body and soul and the welfare of all living things. If you're not ready to quit "cold turkey," begin by eliminating red meat, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon; when you feel comfortable and seek further detoxification, eliminate chicken, turkey, and fish. For ultimate health benefits, environmental contributions, and moral consistency, you may soon wish to go vegan and eliminate all dairy products from your diet, including milk, cheese, eggs, and butter, while exploring the wonderful substitute products available (see below).

3) GET INFORMED: because you're taking charge of your own health, and everyone around you, especially your family and friends are going to belittle and harass you for breaking from their paradigm of ignorance and alienation. You have to know the facts and be prepared to refute the myths and falsehoods that most people have internalized since birth without any questioning or knowledge whatsoever. But take heart, because the truth and science are on your side! Make reading about food, vitamins, herbs, and related topics a new hobby. Learn more about strengthening your immune system and say goodbye to colds and the flu. A good way to start is to call the Physician's Committee For Responsible Medicine for a free "vegetarian starter kit": 202-686-2210 (ext. 300).

4) GET ORGANIZED: because the adventure you're embarking on is that of cooking with fresh, wholesome, (ideally) organic foods. Here are some important steps to take:

    a) Buy some good vegetarian cookbooks; there are dozens of good ones available at any decent bookstore. There are numerous cookbooks featuring quick and easy meals (see below). It's always good to find those cookbooks with pictures to see what appeals to you and to have some sort of model to judge your results by.

    b) There are lots of great boxed, canned, and frozen veggy meals, but to save money cook from scratch.

    c) Always have two or three recipes in hand when you go shopping so you'll have definite things to prepare. Keep a list of your favorite recipes and always try new things; don't be disappointed if some recipes don't quite work out and don't be surprised when most do!

    d) Make sure you have all the cooking utensils you'll need for cooking and storing a variety of dishes. One crucial thing to have is lots of plastic storage containers so you can easily store soups, salads, etc.

    e) Always keep basic items well stocked, such as rice, couscous, pasta, canned tomatoes, beans, veggy burger mix, and spices; that way you can always improvise and be able to cook most things with whatever you have on hand. You can use empty pasta sauce bottles and other glass jars to store these items.

    f) Keep a close eye on your frig. Use whatever foods are starting to go bad immediately; a great thing to do with aging vegetables is to make a soup or stir-fry.

    g) Buy organic when possible; it's more expensive, but sometimes not significantly so. When you don't buy organic, clean your fruit and vegetables with a good pesticide remover or just soak in dishsoap and water and rinse well.

5) GET CREATIVE: learn how to make healthy substitutes with soy analogues for your old meat-based food choices; e.g.:

    a) use egg-replacer for eggs

    b) use soymilk in place of milk (there are different flavors and low-fat kinds)

    c) use soy margarine instead of butter or regular margarine (non- hydrogenated "Spectrum" is the best)

    d) try soy ice cream and soy cheese

    e) use veggy-burgers, chili, hotdogs, turkey, pepperoni, etc., in place of meat

    f) try TVP (textured vegetable protein) for a very convincing meat substitute, especially good with veggy-tacos and spaghetti "meat" sauce

    g) if you don't have a good grocer nearby, you can always buy alternative products online, at sites like www.nomeat.com

II. SOME GOOD BOOKS ON DIET, HEALTH, ETHICS, COOKING, AND PROBLEMS WITH THE GLOBAL MEAT CULTURE

Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef

John Hill, The Case for Vegetarianism: Philosophy For a Small Planet

John Robbins, Diet for a New America

John Robbins, May All be Fed (information and recipes)

Eric Marcus, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

Howard Lyman, Mad Cowboy

Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins, Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity

Francis Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet, second edition (information and recipes)

Orville Schell, Modern Meat: Antibiotics, Hormones, and the Pharmaceutical Farm

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?

Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, Fit For Life, 2 vols.

Dr. John and Mary McDougall, The McDougall Plan

Dr. Neal Barnard, Food for Life, The Power of Your Plate, Eat Right, Live Longer

Dr. Frank Oski, Don't Drink Your Milk

Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care (seventh edition only, adding Spock's latest advise on the need to raise children vegan)

Jeanne Lemlin, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

Martha Rose Shulman, Fast Vegetarian Feasts

Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Eat More, Weigh Less

Gail Davis, So Now What Do I Eat? A Complete Guide to Vegetarian Convenience Foods.

Virginia and Mark Messina, The Vegetarian Way: Total Nutrition for You and Your Family

Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Bryanna Clark Grogan, 20 Minutes to Dinner

Louise Hagler, Tofu Quick and Easy

also: subscribe to magazines such as Vegetarian Times, Good Medicine (The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine), and Earthsave (John Robbins' group).

III. SUPERQUICK (5 MINUTES) RECIPES FOR THE ULTRA-LAZY OR TIME- CHALLENGED

** for breakfast, granola with soy milk and bananas, along with toast and tahini sauce and soy patties

** pasta and tomato sauce; jazz it up with some stir-fried veggies and spices (always use olive oil only)

** cook vegetarian refried beans; mushrooms, onion, garlic, and green peppers; and fresh or canned tomatoes and green chiles, put on a tortilla

** stir-fry: mix green onions, garlic, mushrooms, a bag of stir-fry vegetables (a mixture of fresh vegetables is better); hot chili sauce, chili powder, or chinese red pepper powder; and pre-cooked brown rice (a little more two cups of water to a cup of brown rice)

** blend fried onions, garlic, and mushrooms with steamed spinach and pre-cooked couscous; drizzle with fresh lemon, soy sauce, pepper, and hot sauce

** fry up some veggy-dogs or veggy-burgers and put on tortillas or a bun with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, etc

** make a fresh salad and sprinkle with sunflower and pumpkin seeds

** make a fruit smoothie and add vegetarian protein powder (always use frozen bananas as your base, blend with organic apple juice and mixed frozen fruits)

** mix packaged vegetarian chili mix with two cans of kidney beans and tomato sauce