Question: I am a new veggie, and I have no idea where to start. I wanted to do this because I feel it is healthy, and humane. Like others, I have no family support on this decision. Can you tell me what foods I should start with, and what I should stock in my pantry? Thank you, Stephanie
Answer: First, I want to congratulate you on the best decision you will ever make in your life! By choosing to go vegetarian you are benefiting your health, animals and the environment. Stand firm in your convictions and know in your heart that you are making the right decision, even if you don't have family support. In fact, after more than eleven years, my husband and I are still the only ones in both our families that are vegetarian. But you are not alone.
The first thing you will want to do is familiarize yourself with meat alternatives like Tempeh, Textured Soy Protein, Tofu and Seitan (wheat gluten). There are also many varieties of soy-based Cold-cuts, Burgers and Hotdogs available at health food stores and most supermarkets.
Next you will want to stock your pantry with these products as well as Brown Rice, Soymilk, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Beans, Pasta, Nuts (soynuts, walnuts, almonds and peanuts), Miso (a great soup starter), Herbs and Spices (oregano, basil, parsley, sage, turmeric, bay leaf, garlic powder, etc.). You may also want to try out some other grains like Millet, Quinoa and Amaranth. Proper spicing is the key to good veggie cooking.
Vegetarian cuisine can be very versatile and exciting, don't be afraid to experiment with these new foods and flavors. Cooking can be a magical and creative event that provides you with tasty and enjoyable nourishment. So have fun with it, and pat yourself on the back for taking a step in the right direction.
Read about the vegetarian diet, philosophy and lifestyle at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarian
Read about the vegan diet, philosophy and lifestyle at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegan
Read the ADA's position on vegetarian diets at http://www.eatright.org/
For recipes and more information about a healthy vegetarian and vegan diet, read my book
Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook
Other Recommended Books...
• Plant Based Nutrition and Health
by Stephen Walsh
• The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet
by Vesanto Melina & Brenda Davis
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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.