Friday, December 30, 2005

Going Vegan Difficult for Veggie Teen

Dear Savvy Vegetarian,

I'm 16 and I've been vegetarian for about 8 months. My boyfriend didn't like the sound of it at first, he eats a lot of meat. So for the first three or so months, he was constantly nagging me as to why I was being vegetarian, how it wouldn't help save any animals. But now he has gotten used to it, and supports me. He doesn't like the idea of me giving up. However, I want to go vegan, and he says if I do he will not support me. And my mother doesn't have a college education, so she doesn't make much money. She wouldn't have much money to spare to buy organic foods. Vegan food is more expensive than store brand macaroni and cheese, so going vegan would be really difficult. um... any advice would be greatly appreciated. :) Thank you, L.

Advice From Savvy Veg:

Dear L.,

First, congratulations on becoming vegetarian under tough conditions.

It would be nice for you if you had a boyfriend who felt the same way you do, or was at least supportive. But, if you want to keep this one, try to be more assertive. Of course, your boyfriend shouldn't be expected to conform to your dietary needs, and neither should you be expected to conform to his. It's your body, your life, your decision. Whether or not you stay with him, if you're with anyone this domineering, who eats meat, and you allow him to bully you like this, you won't be vegetarian for long.

As for your Mom, I have a lot more sympathy for her, since you're her family, you live with her and she pays the bills. But being vegan isn't a lot different than being vegetarian. If you're not eating organic now, then you don't have to as a vegan. And processed food, (precooked, frozen or in a box), whether vegan, organic, or not, is nutritionally challenged as well as expensive.

I know you probably don't have a lot of time, what with school and your boyfriend, and maybe work. But I strongly recommend that sometime soon, you buy a cookbook, and start to cook for yourself. Maybe make some money and chip in for food. It'd be cheaper and healthier to make at least some of your own food. Maybe dinner, and a lunch to take to school?

I don't think you should rush into being vegan, at least while you're living at home. You've taken a giant step in a good direction, becoming vegetarian. Take your time, let it settle for a while, learn about vegetarian nutrition, learn to cook for yourself, sort out who you are and what you want and need, as a person separate from her boyfriend and her Mom. That's enough pressure on you for now.

I've attached two other free reports for you, just fyi: 10 Tips For Beginning Vegetarians, and Vegetarian Nutrition..

I've been pretty outspoken with you, but that's just me. It's entirely up to you to decide whether my advice suits you or not. I'm cheering for you anyway.

Please let me know how things go with you,

All the best, Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Veg

Monday, December 26, 2005

Can Religion Co-Exist With Vegetarianism?


I've always wanted to become a vegetarian but it seems to me a quasi-impossible task. My concern lies in the fact that I live with 5 other carnivores and it's very difficult to find a compromise amongst everybody (the 6 of us form what is known as a religious community). Do you have any advice on this? How can I become a vegetarian while living, praying, and eating at the same table with my meat-lover community members? I would appreciate your help a lot! - A.M.

Advice From Savvy Veg:

Dear A.M.,

It seems to me that you have three choices:

1) Ignore your cohorts, and go vegetarian by yourself. It can be done if you're very determined, but may be divisive and nutritionally iffy (you'd tend to just eat what's not meat, instead of what you need to be well nourished as a vegetarian). You could possibly get your friends to eat more grains, beans and veggies as a matter of health, which would help you and them.

2) Leave your community, find a more sympathetic crowd, and go your own way as a vegetarian. The question is, how important is it to you to be vegetarian, as opposed to being part of your religious community? You'll always have to associate with people who aren't vegetarian, no matter where you live.

3) Persuade your friends to go vegetarian with you. Ask them how they really feel about eating meat. You might be surprised. Often, meat eating is more from habit than conviction. I don't know what kind of religious community you are, but the terms 'religious' and 'meat-loving' have always seemed contradictory to me. There's plenty of history to support the relationship between vegetarianism and the quest for enlightenment or divine grace.

To sum up, go for win/win - it always works best. I've attached two free reports,
Ten Tips for Beginning Vegetarians, and
Veg and NonVeg Eat Together - I hope they'll be helpful.

All the best to you and your community,
Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Veg

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vegetarian Mom's Sacrifice for Meat Eating Family

Dear Judy,

I have been a vegetarian since I was a little kid. Meat just seems to turn my stomach, even the thought of it. The problem is that I married a man who loves meat and wants our children to eat meat. I have been very frustrated in trying to please everyone at mealtimes, so I just make a meal for my family and eat veggies and potatoes.

It is very, very boring so I find myself craving sweets alot to make up for it. It seems like all that I eat are carbohydrates and I am concerned that I am not getting the proper protein that my body needs. I have been told that if your body doesn't get enough protein it starts to consume itself. Is this true? I have lost a lot of muscle and gained fat in its place and I feel very low on energy. I want very much to get back into shape but feel like I'm stuck in a rut. Do you have any suggestions for menus and gaining back muscle? Thanks.- A.S.

Dear A.S.,

When I read your letter, I had to go away and think about it for a while, because I felt like climbing up on my feminist soapbox. But I realized that you're probably a tired busy wife and mom who maybe has a day job. And you're caught up with caring for your family, and putting their needs ahead of your own like lots of women do.

But it doesn't work if one person does all the giving and sacrificing. That doesn't mean that you should force your family into anything, but it may be that your husband isn't even aware that you're suffering. And kids often are oblivious. So you have to tell them what you need, and give it to yourself. Family counselling might be good if there's a lot of resistance.

On the practical side, the sweet cravings are a sign of nutritional imbalance. You're right that veggies and potatoes aren't enough. You need whole grains, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds. So along with your side of veg - easy on the potatoes - have a whole grain tortilla with hummus or almond butter. Or a wrap with refried beans. Or cook some whole grains and freeze them in individual servings. Same with bean dishes.

Keep some cottage cheese or tempeh or baked tofu or nuts or canned beans on hand to add to meals too. For breakfast, eat a fortified whole grain bread or cereal, maybe an egg. Make sure there are green veggies in your life. And fresh fruit. Take a supplement for a while - make sure it has folic acid, B12, calcium, Vit D, magnesium, zinc.

Once your husband is willing to give your diet equal time, then make some grain/veggie dishes for you all to share a few times a week. And green salads, with extras like chick peas, olives, feta, avocado, sunflower seeds, walnuts etc thrown in. There is absolutely no reason why your meat loving husband or your children shouldn't eat some vegetarian dishes too.

Unfair and underappreciated it may be, but it's generally up to Mom to make sure the family eats right! And let them know that you're not a short order cook.

This is pure speculation, but it could be a combination of too many calories and not enough nutrients, along with inactivity that has caused you to lose muscle and gain fat. And don't worry - the body only consumes itself with outright starvation - it'll convert fat to energy before muscle mass.

I suggest that you start taking a supplement right away to perk you up, then you'll have some energy to start working on your diet and your family's diet. Try to get out in the fresh air and walk, or do some yoga, maybe garden, or swim - those activities improve your fitness and your state of mind at the same time. Maybe hang out with adult friends once a week, and make some time for you and your husband away from the kids.

Always, always take time to nurture yourself. You deserve it and your family does too. A Happy Mom is a Good Mom, I've always thought.

I've attached the report Veg NonVeg Eat Together - there's a section on cohabiting. I also recommend The New Becoming Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina as an excellent vegetarian nutrition reference. And the Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas as a source of easy, quick delicious family friendly vegetarian recipes.

I'm sure I've gone on plently long enough, and I hope it's helped a little. Best of everything to you and your family - please let me know how it goes.

Response from A.S.:

Hi Judy,

Thank you so much for responding to my questions. You have given me some good ideas. I realized through your email that my thinking has been skewed. I am one of those who think to be a vegetarian you have to just replace the meat with a slab of tofu. It's going to take some major adjusting to start thinking differently about my sources of protein coming from grains and beans and vegetables but I think this is what I have been misunderstanding. It goes against everything I've been told all my life. I get so many concerned looks and comments from people when they find out I'm a vegetarian but your email has given me some peace. This is who I am and I'm not going to fight against it anymore. It's going to take a lot of effort and time but I have to make me more of a priority.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Today, I'd Like To Talk About Sprouting

I'm up on my soapbox, and ready to expound.
Winter is upon us, here in the midwest, and the
quality of produce in the grocers has bottomed out, while the cost increases exponentially.
Tired of brown broccoli and limp lettuce at peak prices? What to do? SPROUT!!

Sprouting is a simple, easy way to vastly increase the nutrition and digestibility of your food, taking no than 5 - 10 minutes, and pennies a day. It's been around for thousands of years, but the tradition has been lost in our fast food, industrial farming culture.

Save yourself from scurvy this winter! You can sprout at home with a jar, a few seeds, the corner of an old dishtowel, and an elastic band.

Did you know that "Dried seeds, grains and legumes do not contain discernible traces of ascorbic acid, yet when sprouted, they reveal quite significant quantities which are important in the body’s ability to metabolise proteins. The infinite increase in ascorbic acid derives from their absorption of atmospheric elements during growth."?
And so it goes for protein, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, Vit. A, B1, B2, B3.

Here's a concise and complete article on methods and nutritional benefits of sprouting:

Sprouts for Optimum Nutrition

Here's another excellent sprouting site:
Mumm's Sprouting Seeds, with more detailed info about
sprouting at home
, and books about sprouting

It works perfectly well, but if the idea of using a jar, a rag and an elastic band doesn't appeal to you, here's a site which supplies everything you need for sprouting, including organic seeds:
The Sprout House

One important fact isn't mentioned in the above sites. I've read in a few places, and heard from raw foodists, that sprouts are at their best for nutrition and tastiness when they have just begun to sprout. This means that after soaking, rinsing, and putting your seeds in a dark warm corner to sprout, you only have to wait another twelve hours to start munching those vitamins and minerals.

By the way, you can cook with sprouted things, adding them to veggie and grain dishes, or grinding and adding to breads, or whizzing into drinks, or soups, or spreads - but minimal cooking is advised.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tizzy Over Veggie Visit, What To Do?

Could you please write an article for non vegetarians about how to handle feeding one? This is my number one problem when visiting people. I'm quite relaxed about it, but by the time I get there, they have worked themselves into a tizzy. You'd think I was an exotic pet - like a night or two of improper nutrition would have me floating belly up in my bowl. What do I tell them to do?


Dear Z.K.,

If someone (I hope not you) has been foolish enough to inform your hosts that you're a vegetarian, just tell them you're not a picky eater (it's ok to lie) and please don't cook anything but what they'd normally make. But part of being a good host is to feed guests and make them happy, so let them work themselves into a tizzy if they insist. Who are you to interfere with a Good Tizzy!

Thank them profusely for any efforts on your behalf, and eat it too! Ask for seconds. A few tears and hugs would be good. And always wash the dishes. Don't cook any wonderful vegetarian things in their kitchen - you'll just get in their way, and make them feel worse.

If they see you floating belly-up in your bowl, best to just ignore you - please don't flush you down the toilet, because you only look dead.

I will write a report about this - excellent idea! Thank you!
(I did - Veg-NonVeg Eat Together)

Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Veg

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Who's the Green Advisor?


I'm Judy Kingsbury, publisher of Savvy Vegetarian. I've been vegetarian a long time, and veggies or their Moms were always asking for help, so I started SV a few years ago to connect with people who needed support becoming vegetarian.

At first I thought of myself as a coach with a lot of content on her site, but recently realized that I'm a web publisher who writes a vegetarian advice column. I've been virtual friends with Harlan, editor of Greener Magazine, for a couple of years - he was one of the first sites to link to Savvy Veg - and I'm honored to be a guest columnist on Greener.

I'm one of those people who's nosy and opinionated about everything, but my main passions are sustainable agriculture, green living, alternate energy, herbalism and vegetarian diet. I think becoming vegetarian is one of the most effective ways to help save the planet, but any way you want to approach it is fine with me.

I'm not a nutritionist, but I'm pretty knowledgable, have a lot of practical experience, and a balanced, easy approach - (see my bio). Feel free to ask me anything vegetarian - if I can help, I will, or I'll refer you to someone who can. Comments and questions about the content are welcome too.

Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Veg