Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

—Albert Einstein

The concept of vegetarianism is not new. Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein were all vegetarians. There are many reasons why people decide to become vegetarians. My sister’s: “I always knew the animals were my friends.”

Many people don’t eat meat because of religious beliefs. Others are vegetarians simply because they lack access to meat. For example, the average person in India consumes only two pounds of meat a year. I am a semi-vegetarian. I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, so I will look and feel good. I find my body just operates better the less meat I eat. I try to make 90% of my food intake fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

A lot of information is out there on becoming a vegetarian for health, ethical or political reasons. I am not going to discuss it for the latter reasons; but I’ll share with you a few personal ones that may get you thinking about it. By eating more fruits and vegetables you may:

  • Look and feel better.
  • Try all kinds of new dishes, making your life more interesting.
  • Start shopping at fun health food stores, such as Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, and Alfalfa’s if you live near one.
  • Think health in every way, every day.
  • Build your strength.
  • Enjoy more energy and body efficiency.
  • Learn to be in touch with the food you digest, putting you more in touch with your body, yourself, and your world.
  • Make the transition to beauty, health and happiness.
  • Be able to stop smoking.

Definition of vegetarianism

There is a lot of confusion about vegetarians and vegetarianism. In Boulder, the definition of being a vegetarian is someone who never eats anything “that ever had, or would have had a face.” So being a vegetarian here means you don’t eat any kind of animal protein, including fish and eggs.

Meanwhile, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, many friends of mine think if you don’t eat beef you are a vegetarian. So there are many varying degrees and concepts of vegetarianism. Here are some general definitions:

  • Transitional vegetarian refers to a person who is beginning to adopt a more vegetarian diet.
  • Semi-vegetarian diet includes poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy foods.
  • Pesco-vegetarian diet includes fish, eggs, and dairy foods.
  • Ovo-vegetarian includes eggs.
  • Lact-ovo-vegetarian includes dairy products.
  • Vegetarian refers to one who doesn’t eat any of the above.
  • Vegan diet excludes animal-derived foods of all types, including honey.
  • Ethical vegans do not use any products produced from any animals, including honey, leather, silk, soaps made from animal fats, etc.

Combinations for increased protein

Combining foods can be important for vegetarians. Grains like wheat, rice, corn, and oats with beans or legumes complement each other, resulting in proteins when eaten together. Eating nuts with dairy foods also helps create complementary proteins. Corn and beans, like a bean tostada, make a complementary protein, as do beans and rice.

Your local health food store is your best resource. Go and browse, try the samples. There are many vegetarian cookbooks available, and the staff at most health food stores are so bright, educated, and helpful, they will be an invaluable resource for you as you make your transition. Eat at a few vegetarian restaurants; you’ll be surprised how great the food can be!

If you live in a town with a Hare Krishna temple, find out if it serves a free vegetarian feast on Sunday that you can attend. We are lucky in Denver, as there is also a great restaurant called Govindas adjacent to the temple. It has a daily buffet. It is one of my favorite restaurants, and I have also been to the ones in San Diego and Detroit. I strongly recommend them. They are very inexpensive, too.

To learn more about vegetarianism, contact the following:

Council for Responsible Nutrition at (202) 872-1488

North American Vegetarian Society at (518) 568-7970

Earth Save at (800) 362-3648

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