10 Things I’ve Learned as a Vegetarian

A vegetarian diet has so many incredible health benefits that we’ve devoted an entire issue to the topic. From cover to cover you’ll find compelling reasons to rethink your diet, practical tips from the pros, and recipes to get you started. Here are just a few things I’ve learned as a vegetarian:

1. Tofu has gotten an unfair bad rap. So have leafy greens. Actually, a lot of healthy foods are much better than the cynics would lead you to believe. Never tried kumquats or quinoa? Well, what are you waiting for?

2. There’s a lot of vegetarian junk food. Sure, doughnuts and Doritos are meat-free, but the goal is to be a vegetarian who actually eats vegetables.

3. Fill your diet so full of good foods that it crowds out the worse foods. (See number 2 above.)

4. The desire for meat goes away. Over time your cravings actually will change, and you will delight in a vegetarian meal.

5. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Author Michael Pollan popularized that seven-word food philosophy, and those words have guided me many times while I stood with my refrigerator door open, wondering what I should eat.

6. Sorry, devoted meat eaters, but it’s not sound reasoning to say, “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?”

7. As a vegetarian, you will be asked, “How do you get your protein?” almost as often as “How are you doing?” (Click here for the answer.)

8. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates, a notable figure in medical history, offered that advice more than 2,000 years ago.

9. As my vegetarian mother says, “A nice guiding principle in food selection is ‘Never eat anything that had a mother.’

10. Life is ironic. The money earned by my father who raises beef cattle has paid for countless veggie burgers for his vegetarian wife and children, not to mention the education that equipped me to work on a special vegetarian issue of Vibrant Life.  (Thanks, Dad . . . and, well, thank you, too, beef industry.)