About 20 years ago I made a choice to become a vegetarian, mostly because I didn’t like the way the farm animals were treated, but also because I was intrigued in how it could support our health.
I then completed a program with The Swedish Health Institute which enabled me to teach vegetarian cooking classes through Continuing Education, where I taught for several years.
More and more people are becoming aware of how a vegetarian lifestyle can benefit our health, relieve the suffering of countless animals and actually contribute to a less polluted planet. In fact, since animals eat a lot more food than they provide as meat, the less animal products we consume, the more people we can feed around the world.
You may not want to become a vegetarian overnight but just starting out by having one or two vegetarian meals a week will have a positive effect in so many ways.
I cook mostly with whole foods – grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, barely and sometimes brown rice pasta (which is healthier than regular pasta). As protein I use beans such as adzuki, black, mung and chickpeas, just to mention the most common. I also use lentils and tempeh (fermented soy product). Occasionally I will use tofu since it is a processed food which can be hard to digest. Add lots of vegetables and fruit and you have a healthy and balanced diet.
If you still prefer to eat some meat, more and more stores are now carrying poultry, meat and fish which have been humanely raised and without hormones and antibiotics.
As much as possible I choose organic foods and bulk items. Many health food stores, such as Whole Foods, carry great bulk sections for grains and beans.
If you would like to learn more about vegetarianism and how to get started, I highly recommend the cookbook “The New Becoming Vegetarian“ by Vesanto Melina, MS, RD & Brenda Davis, RD.
Here is one of my favorite recipes:
Red lentil stew
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total cooking time: 20-25 minutes
1 ¼ cups red lentils
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry
2 cups water
1. Place the lentils in a large bowl and cover with water. Remove any floating particles and drain the lentils well.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the onions until soft (about 3 min.). Add the garlic, ginger, and spices; cook, stirring for another minute.
3. Add the lentils and water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Serve with pita bread or brown rice.