Vegetarianism is the new black

As we near the end of Vegetarian Awareness Month, a columnist from Michigan gives some tips on how to ease into cutting the meat and going all veg. I don’t agree with some of them, but they are the most truthful answers I have seen yet.

Columnist Tricia Woolfenden gives tips on vegetarianism for beginners. She starts by urging converts to start slow and read about it. Not starting slow is also an option, and the one I took. She does say, though: “Just keep telling yourself: ‘Those bacon cheeseburger withdrawal shakes are a figment of my imagination,'” which in a way helps me to understand those weird meat-eating dreams I had in the beginning.

Now the one part I don’t agree with on a health standpoint, but completely practice is to “stop obsessing about protein.” She says Americans fear not getting enough protein (which may be why so many of us choose meat over anything else). But, she says, one has to have a clearly healthy diet to substitute not having that meat. So diet is everything. She writes: “I haven’t eaten a steak in nearly 15 years, and I can play roller derby for hours at a time.”

Woolfenden also encourages eating Morningstar Farms products as well as peanut butter, two food items I very much support. She urges vegetarians, specifically new vegetarians, to stay away from dining out, cheese and negativity, and always have your kitchen stocked with alternatives such as beans and anything else canned.

The article is for sure worth citing but also important for people interested in seeking out more cost-efficient, healthier, vegetarian-friendly alternatives.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 7:04 am Leave a comment

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of tofurky

In the last post, I talked about how vegetarians shouldn’t be ashamed of being vegetarians. No time of year is this pertinent than the holidays. Thanksgiving definitely isn’t just right around the corner, but as you vegetarians start making plans to visit family, etc., what you’re going to eat for those special holiday meals should be a priority.

My Thanksgiving meals usually consist of all the sides: mashed/sweet/any potatoes, green bean casserole, carbolicious breads, other vegetables and obviously the pies and other desserts. As incredibly tasty as those things sound (my mouth is watering for a month from now), not one item provides the necessary protein the vegetarians miss in so many meals.

The alternative: Tofurky.

I had Tofurky once for Thanksgiving, and I hated it. It was tough, it was weird, it was stuffed and it freaked me out. As of now I am not a fan, but I feel I can be persuaded. For others, though, the fake Thanksgiving staple is obviously high in protein as it is made of soy (full of protein).

Or, you could head to the Nov. 9 Texas vegetarian chili cook off, learn some recipes and give thanks to that in late November.

Check out this blog/site for some more Tofurky information: Megnut. And here’s what that Tofurky stuff looks like (or could look like).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 6:50 am Leave a comment

There’s nothing wrong with being a veggie

I found this brief reference in the South African daily newspaper Business Day. The story is about how the U.S. Army reported that Twitter could be used for terrorist activity. The report apparently says that Twitter has become an activist tool for socialists, communists, human rights activists … and vegetarians. What?!?

The Business Day writer writes, “The Insider couldn’t help but wondering what those pesky vegetarians would be doing to warrant a terror warning. Freeing cows destined for the slaughterhouse or putting soya bean in the water hardly seems like much of a threat.”

I thought this was funny, so I went searching Google for “anti-vegetarian.” Of course many things popped up, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the Anti-Vegetarian Society of Meat Eaters. The name of the group doesn’t even really make sense, especially when AVSME says they aren’t opposed to vegetables or to vegetarians. Maybe I’m elitist or bias, but this group just seems idiotic. AVSME has a store on its site where you can get very clever slogans put on T-shirts, buttons, etc. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Very hilarious and so clever! (Please understand the sarcasm there.)

After I found the AVSME group, I also found a story from about a week ago about a Republican candidate for governor of the state of Montana who was very upset that Democrats spread a rumor that he was vegetarian. The Billings Gazette reported that candidate Roy Brown said, “I am not and have never been a vegetarian. I am disgusted by the baseless allegation that I am a vegetarian and that my personal eating habits should somehow be construed as opposed to the economic interests of Montana’s livestock industry.”

He seems so ashamed. I mean, if you have to issue a statement to specifically let people know that you are NOT a vegetarian, you must dislike vegetarians alot…but I guess it is Montana. And I have to admit that if someone spread a rumor about me that I was a meat-eater, I’d be kind of irritated.

The idea with all of this though is that there’s no shame in being a vegetarian. Vegetarians clearly represent a minority in America, so I urge vegetarians or people interested in becoming vegetarian to ignore anti-veggie groups and people; it just further separates an already small community of non-meat-eaters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 6:35 am Leave a comment

Some upcoming events …

Even though Vegetarian Awareness Month is nearing its end, some special locations (to me) will celebrate in early November.

I have to give a shout out to Boston, Mass. since I lived there for a year and it’s where I became a vegetarian. On Saturday, Boston is hosting its 13th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, just downt the street from where I went to school. It’s free admission, free parking and free vegetarian food samples. It’s such a good opportunity for vegetarians in the area to talk directly to food producers as well as for curious non-vegetarians to see what the diet is all about. I wish Austin had something like this. Go here for more information about the Boston festival: Vegetarian Food Festival. Go here to encourage the Austin vegetarian network to start a veggie food festival of its own: Vegetarian Network of Austin.

Austin may not be having an entire food festival, but mark your calendars for Nov. 9 — the 20th Annual Vegetarian Chili Cook Off happening at the Austin Farmer’s Market on Koenig. It costs $8, but seems well worth it. Check out this craigslist listing for more information: 894743773.html.

Events such as these help bring together a true community of vegetarians, no matter how big or small. To me, its’ especially important in Texas to be a part of events/groups as these, because a great majority of the state’s residents are almost anti-vegetarian. We truly live in longhorn country, so any time those who believe in leaving the longhorns alone get together, it strengthens the community. Get involved, go to events, do anything that’s veggie friendly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 5:57 am Leave a comment

RETRACTION-ish

Peta2’s contest for most vegetarian-friendly colleges is still going on!!! The list of winners I found was from 2007. Go to Vote Now for peta2’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly Colleges 2008 to vote for UT!! We are on the bracket.

Voting ends Nov. 6!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

Should we all be vegetarians?

It may be from 2002, but I found this great front-page TIME Magazine story by Richard Cordliss about going vegetarian. The entire issue was dedicated to the question of if we should all be vegetarian Here’s how it starts:

FIVE REASONS TO EAT MEAT: 
1) It tastes good
2) It makes you feel good
3) It’s a great American tradition
4) It supports the nation’s farmers
5) Your parents did it
Oh, sorry … those are five reasons to smoke cigarettes. Meat is more complicated.

Hilarious! The article goes on to explain that young Americans have started cutting the meat and including the veggies in their diets, what with things like E. coli, unnecessary hormones and mad-cow disease the primary meat ingredients in America (in 2002). As I’ve been posting lately, being vegetarian is not just about not eating meat, it’s about eating smart and healthy. Cordliss cites the American Dietetic Association as proclaiming that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, are nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

The five-page story online goes through various aspects (polls, interviews, etc) about being vegetarian. At the time the story was published, vegetarian food sales were at their highest and teenagers considered vegetarianism “cool.” It mentions health benefits, including positive effects on kidneys, and health problems, including lack of important nutrients.

The story is the most comprehensive I’ve read on vegetarianism, and I encourage everyone to check it out: Veggie Tales: Should We All Be Vegetarians?

Now, does it answer the question? Not exactly … but how could it? There’s no way of telling if we should all be vegetarians, so Cordliss ends with this: “The moral: there is no free lunch, not even if it’s vegetarian. For now, man is perched at the top of the food chain and must live with his choice to feed on the living things further down. … It may take a very long while. For most people, meat still does taste good. And can “America’s food” ever be tofu?”

I say it can.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 7:08 am Leave a comment

Is UT a vegetarian-friendly college?

Not according to peta2, which is an offspring of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that is geared toward college-age people. Both Peta and peta2 are very radical, in-your-face groups, so I’m a little weary of them. But, thousands of people voted for the most vegetarian-friendly colleges in the U.S. and Canada. Here are the U.S. winners: 1. Indiana University-Bloomington, 2. Humboldt State University, 3. University of Puget Sound, 4. Yale University, 5. SUNY Purchase, 6. Oberlin College, 7. New York University, 8. University of California-Berkeley, 9. University of Pennsylvania, 10. University of Florida.

So the Longhorns didn’t make the list. But that certainly doesn’t mean we aren’t vegetarian-friendly here on campus. Although UT could definitely do more to cater to vegetarians, the list of vegetarian-friendly colleges is simply based on access to veggie-friendly food on campus.

According to the Division of Housing and Food Service, the most recent surveys show that about 6 percent of UT students living in residence halls are vegetarians. In the dining halls, menus that have no animal products are marked green. And if they aren’t marked green, but clearly aren’t animal products, beware: “We cannot guarantee that french fries, onion rings, hush puppies, and fried okra have been fried in oil that has not been used to fry animal products (fish, poultry, meat),” the DHFS Web site states.

There are vegetarian options in every dining hall on campus, but often not in the form of full vegetarian meals. DHFS says most vegetarian options around dinner time are categorized as side dishes. This is probably where UT lacks the most: complete vegetarian meals.

In 1995, DHFS created a student Vegetarian Focus Group that gives suggestions to DHFS about ways to make dining on campus more veggie friendly. Contact mjones@austin.utexas.edu to join.

DHFS has its own vegetarian food guide pyramid (I think the Mayo Clinic’s is better):

Now vegetarian-friendly options at the Union and right off campus (the Drag) is a totally different issue — something a DHFS focus group can’t really control.

Friday, October 24, 2008 at 5:28 pm 2 comments

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