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A Meatless State of Mind
[Indianapolis Star - opinion]

Walk into the Meridian Street United Methodist Church social hall on Saturday, pick up a fork and prepare to be surprised.

Instead of fried chicken and other traditional entrees, you'll find 18 vegan and vegetarian dishes that promise to be just as enticing.

People are surprised to find that meat-free meals taste good, said Jessica Suhre, who is organizing the 2007 Indianapolis Meatout, an annual event designed to celebrate going meatless.

While it's a jump outside of the dietary box for many Americans, veganism is steadily gaining attention.

Vegetarianism in general involves eating no meat, fish or fowl, but vegans live an animal-free lifestyle. For ethical reasons and health benefits, they avoid meat, eggs and dairy in their diets, and animal fibers and products tested on animals in their homes.

Twenty years ago, vegans were on their own to experiment with developing meatless recipes and ingredients, but today, nationwide chains are developing soy milk and other vegan-friendly products and cookbooks featuring recipes for meatless dishes and even vegan cupcakes. On the home front, though, life without dairy, eggs and meat still draws questions.

"When I told my parents (I'd gone vegan), they thought I had an eating disorder," said Sarah Smith, a nine-year vegan and a marketing manager for natural foods store Wild Oats at Clay Terrace Mall.

But instead of eating less, Smith said, her options for meals were expanded.

"People say, 'Oh my gosh, what do you eat?' " Smith said. "I think it's because they focus on all of the things you're not eating. I suddenly started trying all these ethnic foods, and how much more that's out there that's really exciting."
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Isa Chandra Moskowitz began creating her own vegan recipes when she first rejected meat, dairy and eggs as a teenager.
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Now 34, Moskowitz has authored "Vegan With a Vengeance," which features recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World," co-written with Terry Hope Romero. They are working on another, due out in October.

The cupcakes book features tantalizing cupcakes -- little baked goods towering with decorative frosting, fruit and sprinkles.

"I think once you have your ideas solidified, your taste buds follow," Moskowitz said about going vegan. "You don't really crave the things people think you're going to crave."

Call Star reporter Jessica Halverson at (317) 444-6759.

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full story:
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070725/ENTERTAINMENT02/707250301/-1/LOCAL17

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