A Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Thinking about cutting back on meat? A healthy vegetarian diet is simple with a little know how and experimentation.


| January/February 1985


NOTE: Since MOTHER EARTH NEWS published this article in 1985, a significant amount of new research on the subject of health and vegetarianism has taken place. Before making any large dietary changes, we recommend taking a look at more recent articles and research about vegetarian diets and also consulting your family physician. 


A person has only to browse through the cookbook section in any local bookstore to conclude that vegetarianism can no longer be considered a fad, as it was only 10 years ago. With the fitness phenomenon reaching an all-time peak, more and more people are searching for a more healthful diet, and for many, that means cutting back on meat, or even eliminating it from their table. Furthermore, vegetarianism — be it full- or part-time — has also received the nod from the American Dietetic Association, the National Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association.

But just how practical is a healthy vegetarian diet, anyhow? As more and more folks join the ranks of "rabbit-food munchers," it becomes essential to dispel the myth that vegetarian food consists largely of carrots and lettuce. The majority of people who eschew meat altogether fall into the lacto-ovo vegetarian slot: They eat a variety of grains, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs and all dairy products. A little more strict are the lacto vegetarians, who eliminate eggs from the above list. The real hard-liners are the vegans, or "pure" vegetarians, who consume no animal products at all.

Nutritional Concerns for Vegetarians

Unfortunately, a good many folks who might otherwise dive wholeheartedly into a low- or no-meat diet (for reasons of health, ecology, economics, ethics or whatever) hesitate out of fear that they won't be able to provide their bodies with the necessary vitamins and minerals on a vegetarian regimen. And some people — particularly those with hearty appetites — quail before the question of what to eat in place of the familiar meat, fish and poultry. (The popular image of an anemic wisp of a person munching on sprouts and nuts dies hard!)

However, these worries can be laid to rest. The basic vegetarian diet is a totally healthful way of eating, one that offers the body a full array of vitamins and minerals and ample caloric energy to keep the human machine humming along.

And you have only to glance through the pages of vegetarian cookbooks to be assured that you'll eat handsomely on nonmeat fare. Vegetarian cookery is a rich and varied cuisine, full of marvelous dishes that suggest a whole new style of, and reverence for, eating. Most folks who make the transition to vegetarianism find that, rather than feeling limited by their new diet, they're actually overwhelmed with the spectrum of tasty meal possibilities.





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