Vegging Out with the Vegetarians

Garden Vegetables and Farmer

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Today vegetarianism is no longer simply a passing phase for the famous. It is becoming ever more mainstream. Millions of Americans have adopted this diet, and the converts are growing every day.

Even those who still enjoy meat are giving vegetarians greater respect, although we still find it difficult to imagine that a superstar athlete or a Commander in Chief would, or could, get to the top on a diet of beans and rice. T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, says it well:

“It’s my guess that there’s hardly another myth in nutrition so insidious yet so intractable as that which encourages us to believe that consuming lots of high-quality protein — basically the stuff of animal-based foods — makes for fitness, bigness, and strength of body. Rooted in antiquity, this myth began to sprout in the minds of men (especially men, it seems) long before protein was identified and named.”

The myth took root in the belief that we could get our strength, our agility, and our ability to soar to unimaginable heights only if we consumed the flesh and bodies of animals.

Much later, in the early 19th century, when scientists identified protein as being more or less equivalent to the flesh of animals they worshiped, it was heralded as the treasured nutrient. In the words of famous chemist Justus von Liebig, it was none other than the very “stuff of life itself.”

A remarkable shift in perception is occurring.

Choosing a vegetarian diet is now equated with having respect for one’s own health and the health of the planet. Those who can afford to buy the best organically grown produce are building a wide range of new vegetarian meals and taking a fresh look at classic meatless dishes from around the world.

Innovative vegetarian dishes are appearing with increasing frequency on restaurant menus. Offered as a summer garden of colorful vegetables and fresh pasta in a bowl drizzled with fruity olive oil, a generous spoonful of Parmesan, and a handshake of freshly ground black pepper, which of us would feel deprived?

In Western industrialized countries, there are more vegetarians than ever before — yet in a parallel shift there are more hamburgers eaten than ever before. It’s also interesting to note that Eskimos, who eat a traditional diet consisting almost entirely of meat, have a very similar life expectancy to that of Indian Hindus who are strict vegetarians.

Go figure.

Jobs for Vegetarians

  • Become A Produce Buyer for Restaurants: Buy a truck. Pick up the produce from a group of farmers and sell it to restaurants and retail markets.
  • Start a Store: Sell vegetarian specialties.
  • Write About It: Find a sponsor to finance a free newsletter to be given away at farmer’s markets, specialty food stores and grocery shops. Include seasonal recipes. Look to Vegetarian Times and terrific Mollie Kazen for inspiration.
  • Teach It: Launch a vegetarian cooking class, even bigger, launch a vegetarian cooking school.
  • Be Passionate About It: Look to as a start in your search.