Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ask Julie and Cassandra a question

What do you want to know about being a vegetarian? What are your curious about? Got a comment? Post it here.


At 9/06/2006 4:07 PM, Blogger veggie2 said...

Are cows still being fed chicken manure and other disgusting animal products (and chickens being fed pig and cow products)?

At 9/06/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger GiGi said...

Very glad to see your new blog! I moved to Mt. Airy from Hollywood last October and being a veggie and mostly vegan for a zillion years, it is challenging to eat out. I'm grateful for the Lowe's Food Stores (they carry some vegan and veggie products) and Whole Foods. I would love to see a Trader Joe's in Winston. I look forward to future entries on your blog!


At 9/07/2006 4:12 PM, Blogger nadine said...

I've been "experimenting with vegetarianism" for just over a year now, but have never paid much attention to the idea of "combining" to create a complete protein. I don't even really know what it means, but I have some vague memory of my sister going vegetarian and having flowcharts and mathematical calculations of beans and dairy and whole grains... Seemed complicated enough to make me want to order a Big Mac. What do you think?

At 9/08/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger veggielover51 said...

I am almost a vegeterian because I eat very little meat, but every now and then I do find myself craving meat. I also find it hard to find the time to cook the true vegetarian meals with the right balance of protein and carbs. What is your advice about becoming a true vegetarian and finding the time to cook really good vegetarian meals with a very busy schedule?

At 9/08/2006 2:58 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Those are issues that I struggle with myself. There aren't as many convenience foods for vegetarians as for carnivores -- but that is getting better.

I only have time to really cook on the weekends. On weeknights, I pretty much throw something together quickly, like a veggie wrap or a salad. Recently, while I've been getting fresh tomatoes from my garden, I've been eating a lot of tomato sandwiches with baby carrots and baked potato chips on the side -- not exactly a high-protein meal, there!

I normally cook something substantial on Sunday evening (with protein like tofu or beans), then have leftovers for a couple of days. It saves money and time -- but I usually do get tired of the dish in a few days.

One thing that's time-consuming for veggie meals is that there's often a LOT of veggie-chopping involved! That seems to take me more time than anything else.

So how to make cooking quicker?

If you can afford it, many grocery stores now carry pre-chopped produce like celery, onions and peppers, and bags of shredded carrots. And I swear by the bags of pre-washed spinach and lettuce.

You can buy tofu that's ready to eat -- already baked and seasoned. It's great chopped up and added to some couscous (very quick-cooking) with a few chopped veggies and herbs for a main-dish salad. Or wrap it all up in a tortilla with a splash of bottled salad dressing. You can do the same with pre-cooked seitan nuggets that need only a few minutes to heat up.

When you have time to do some real cooking, make a big batch of something and freeze the leftovers -- make sure you label it with the date you froze it. Then you can microwave it for a fast dinner.

And there's nothing wrong with a packaged frozen dinner now and then -- companies such as Amy's and Moosewood have some nice all-natural, vegetarian frozen dinners.

At 9/09/2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Julie said...

If you’re thinking about going completely vegetarian, it may help to read up on vegetarian nutrition. You may find that it’s easier than you realize to get enough protein as a true vegetarian – it’s in so many foods!

There are some reliable sources online, such as the Vegetarian Resource Group’s section on nutrition at or the Vegan Health site, a project of Vegan Outreach, at

If you want more details, there are many good books, too. Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, both registered dieticians, have written two books – Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan – that are extremely detailed and helpful when considering nutritional issues. Even the “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiots Guide” series have come out with books on vegetarian and vegan living! All these books include quick and easy recipes along with the information on nutrition and other issues.

Once you have a handle on what goes into a balanced vegetarian diet, the question remains how to fit it into a busy schedule…. But that is the case for any kind of eating pattern, omnivore or vegetarian. Again, there are many resources to guide you. The Vegetarian Resource Group site has a wealth of quick and easy recipes, and Vegan Outreach offers a free starter pack, which you can order or read online at And there are a world of cookbooks with ideas for quick, tasty and nutritious meals. Some of my favorites are: Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegetarian; the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook, by Carole Raymond, which is aimed at college students but is handy for anyone with limited time; and The Peaceful Palate by Jennifer Raymond, which features straightforward recipes that have always turned out perfectly for me.

If you want specific information on how to get more protein or to balance your consumption of protein and carbs, you can look at such books as Robin Robertson’s Carb-Conscious Vegetarian or even enter Barry Sears’ high-protein The Soy Zone. Not all the Soy Zone recipes are vegetarian, and certainly not everyone agrees that people need as much protein as Sears says. But it shows how it is possible to eat large amounts of protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Finally, when you find yourself craving meat, it may help to think about why. Is it that you may need more protein? Or that you’re missing old-favorite flavors or dishes? Or does your plate seem “empty” to you without something substantial and “meaty” there? When you figure out what is at the root of the craving, you’re on your way to figuring out how to satisfy it without turning to meat.

Though some vegetarians and vegans avoid them, I find that mock meats are a fun way to add variety, familiarity and nutrition to meals. An ever-growing variety is available these days. You can have cold cuts (turkey, bologna, ham); breakfast sausages (link or patty) and bacon; hot dogs and burgers; meatballs; Buffalo wings; chicken patties; barbecue; and on and on – all without involving any animals at all. The array is seemingly endless. If one brand doesn’t suit you, you can try another. It is all part of the fun of going vegetarian!


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