What type of vegetarian diet do I need to follow as part of the VeggieFest Vegetarian Challenge?
You will be following a lacto-vegetarian diet. You can eat dairy products, such as yogurt, butter, and milk, along with fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc.).
Will I get enough protein during the week that I am taking the VeggieFest Vegetarian Challenge?
It is very easy, if one eats a reasonably varied diet, to get plenty of protein. Milk is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids. Other foods such as beans, grains, soy products, fruits, and vegetables, provide varying amounts of amino acids. Meat substitutes made with high quality vegetable protein are now widely available in supermarkets and natural food stores.
How can I get a substantial, satisfying meal as a vegetarian?
Whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit contain complex carbohydrates which provide optimum energy and a feeling of satisfaction. When adjusting to the vegetarian diet, it is best to substitute high quality vegetarian protein for the meat portion of the meal. Make a list of filling, nutritious vegetarian items that appeal to you and rotate them into your diet. Either use prepared mock-meat substitutes or try new recipes. Since vegetarianism has become so popular, there are hundreds of vegetarian cookbooks on the market. They are available for a range of ethnic preferences: low-fat and specialty diets, vegetarian teens, entertaining needs, quick-and-easy recipes for those on-the-go, gourmet meals, etc. We recommend Vegetarian Creations by SK Publications. The Science of Spirituality has developed this book with the new vegetarian in mind as well as the experienced vegetarian cook. It has excellent kitchen-tested recipes that can be used for entrees, side dishes, breads, soups, appetizers, desserts, salads, and more.
Will this vegetarian diet be healthy for me during this challenge week?
The vegetarian diet is not only healthier, but research shows that the quality of life for vegetarians could also be higher. An excess of protein, which is common in Western meat-centered diets, can put a strain on the liver, kidneys, and digestive system. Meat is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which impact cardiovascular disease. One of the unique benefits of a vegetarian diet is a reliance on natural grains and vegetables, which in turn reduces the risks of colon cancer and diverticulosis.
The director of the renowned Framingham Heart Study (1990) concluded: "Some people scoff at vegetarians, but they have a fraction of our heart attack rate and they have only 40 percent of our cancer rate ... On the average, they outlive other men by about six years, and they outlive other women by about three years." Dietary cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that the public reduce its consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, and "increase consumption of whole grain foods, cereal products, vegetables, and fruits." (Sources: Science, Feb. 1974, pg. 416, and Burkitt, D., British Medical Journal, 1:274, 1973; National Research Council, Recommended Dietary Allowances, 9th ed., p.46. British Journal of Urology, 51:427, 1979)
An interesting note: The most common cause of death in the United States is heart disease. The risk of death from a heart attack for the average American male is 50%. The risk of death from heart attack for an American male who consumes no meat is 15%. (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 215; 1617, 1971)
What can I use to substitute for eggs in a recipe?
Just about any recipe that calls for eggs can be made vegetarian by using the proper egg substitute, or commercial egg replacer available in most health food stores and larger well-stocked grocery stores. Eggs perform a different function, depending on what you're making, so you may also need a different egg substitute, depending on the dish.In a cake, for example, the eggs serve as a leavening agent, helping to make the cake light and fluffy. In baked goods such as cookies and muffins, the eggs add moisture and act as a binder, gluing all the other ingredients together. And, if you're looking to substitute eggs in a quiche or a mayonnaise, where eggs are central to the finished product, you'll probably need something like tofu to mimic the consistency of the eggs, while making other adjustments to the recipe as well to add flavor and body.
If we all go vegetarian, won't the planet become overrun with uneaten cows, pigs and chickens?
It is simple supply-and-demand capitalist economics that as fewer people eat meat products, prices will go down. All the meat, and eggs that now exist will be sold for less money. As more and more people adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, fewer of these products will be produced as their prices fall. Less demand means less production. Eventually, we’ll stop raising animals for food altogether.