With Janet Tubbs
Janet Tubbs is a leading authority on being a vegetarian and author of If You Can't Pronounce It, Don't Eat It - ABasic Guide to Veganism.
Q: My 5 year-old wants all the junk food advertised on television and Idon't want him to have it. What should I do?
A: Well, as I ask in my book, "Who's the boss in your house?" Since you feel strongly about a healthy diet and you do the shopping, just don'tbuy it. Explain to him that just because certain foods look great on TV,they may not be good for you. If you don't eat sugar, you might suggest that he look at the labels, and if sugar is one of the first five ingredients listed, it's not something you're going to buy. Your son maynot be able to read, but he will learn to recognize S-U-G-A-R and itwill become a game that eventually may turn into an intelligent search for healthy food.
Q: Which is better, baking, boiling, or steaming vegetables?
A: For optimum vitamin content, the order of priority is 1) steaming, 2)baking and 3) boiling. Stainless steel steamer baskets are veryinexpensive and a staple in virtually all vegetarian kitchens. Bamboo steamers are attractive, can be served at the table and can be stacked,but aren't as popular as the metal ones that are collapsible.
Q: My 10 year-old daughter raids the refrigerator and will eat just about anything. Unfortunately, most of what she eats isn’t very good forher. Any ideas?
A: Make a bowl of "veggie popcorn" by cubing celery, radishes, celery, zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli (don’t forget the stems).Raw beets are wonderfully healthy, and although most children don’t carefor them cooked, they like them raw. Perhaps the color has something todo with it. When a mother and child work side by side in the kitchen, itusually creates a bond, especially with a daughter. If she sees youassembling the veggies for this snack, she may be curious enough to wantto help. By all means, let her. It’s a great way to begin a dialog withyour child - boy or girl.
Q: I’ve seen veggie burgers in the store, but they’re expensive. Do youhave a recipe for burgers I can make at home?
A: This is a wonderful burger, hot or cold, that is chock full ofvitamins and flavor:
Add water, a little at a time until mixture of consistency to formpatties. Let stand 10 minutes.
Brown in a small amount of olive oil and drain well. Refrigerate orserve on roll with sprouts and mayonnaise. Add any additional seasoningsyou like and vary the nuts for different flavors.
Q: My 15-year old daughter wants to become a vegetarian. I don’t eat much meat, but think we should have some red meat in our diet. Am I wrong?
A: You’re right in that people need protein, however most people don’tneed meat to supply that protein. Look in your local health food storeor organic grocery for soy products that have more than enough proteinand have the added benefit of tasting terrific. Don't hesitate to ask anyone who works in the store about any of their products. As a rule,they're very knowledgable and helpful.
To put your mind at ease, you might suggest that your daughter have acheck up to make sure she’s in good health. Then, do some research onthe net about vegetarianism so you can discuss the benefits of avegetarian diet. There are many web sites for teens who are experiencingthe same thoughts and questions as your daughter. She might find a boardthat will answer all of her questions and supply her with answers toyours.
Q: How long does it take to become a vegan?
A: It depends on the person. The main consideration is a strong desireto give up dairy products. For some people, frequent sinus headaches arestrong motivators to not eat dairy products—-especially cheese.
Some people make the transition to a vegan diet very easily. Twenty fiveyears ago, I was a confirmed meat eater and cheese addict. I made the sudden decision to become a vegan and was surprised that I didn’t miss milk and eggs, but did still crave cheese. I discovered that by adding calcium to my diet, the craving (and my debilitating sinus headaches)disappeared.
Q: A friend invited me to lunch last week and she had a delicious salad dressing that somebody had given her from your cookbook. I think it had miso in it. Will you please give me the recipe?
A: This is my all-time favorite salad dressing and dip.Blend until thick and creamy, 1-2 minutes. This is delicious and keeps well in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.
It will be the perfect consistency for a dip. For a thinner salad dressing, add a little more water.
Q: What’s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan, and how do you pronounce vegan?
A: People turn vegetarian or vegan (pronounced vee-gun or vay-gun) for avariety of reasons, ranging from health to concern for animals. Neithereats meat, but a vegan has also made the decision not to eat dairy products - again for the same reasons. Some vegans refuse to eat honeyas well.
Q: I’d like to be vegetarian but almost all of my friends eat meat,How can I accept their invitations to a cookout or formal dinner without hurting their feelings and not eating meat?
A: It has been my experience that other people sometimes are more uncomfortable than the vegetarian at dinner. There are some easy solutions.
- Be honest with your hosts. Tell them that you’re a vegetarian and you hope they won’t be offended if you don’t eat the meat dish at dinner. They may serve a meatless meal, but it not, they’ll know why you’ve refused the meat and will appreciate your honesty.
- If you’re dining out, ask the waiter for a vegetarian plate. Chefs arevery willing to make a delicious, attractive vegetarian dinner if oneis not on the menu.
- All health food stores have veggie hot dogs or burgers that can begrilled along with hamburgers at a cookout. Some vegetarians prefer not to havetheir veggie burgers cooked on the same grill as a hamburger. As avegan for almost 24 years, I have no problem with them being cookedside by side with a hamburger, as long as the cook doesn’t get them mixed up!
Q: I’ve been vegetarian for about six months. What can I tell peoplewho ask where I get my protein?
A: There’s always the old joke "Where do you get your protein?" "Animal crackers."
When they stop groaning, tell them that meat is only one source ofprotein. Others are tofu, soy products, beans, legumes, tempeh, seitan, nuts and seeds. Today’s health food stores have many meatless products that contain a lot of natural, unprocessed, unadulterated protein.
Q: I haven’t eaten meat in a year but am gaining weight. I thought you were supposed to lose weight on a vegetarian diet.
A: It depends on what you are substituting for meat. If you’re eating alot of potatoes, pasta and bread, instead of a steak, you may be adding a lot of calories that are adding up the pounds. Vegetarians who eliminate meat and dairy products from their diet are, on the whole,healthier than the average person but only if, and this is a big IF,they don’t substitute fattening foods, and increase their intake ofvegetables and fruit.
Q: My son thinks I’m getting senile because I want to become avegetarian. I’m 60 years old and in good health.
A Your son obviously cares about you and is concerned that you want to make what many consider a radical change of diet. You may want to have acheck-up with your doctor to put you son’s mind at ease. If you get aclean bill of health and your doctor sees no reason why you shouldn’tgive up meat, it will eliminate any worry your son has. Be sure to takea good multi-vitamin and exercise every day.
Once you make the change and are comfortable cooking with tofu and other unfamiliar food, you might ask him to dinner and surprise himw ith a delicious and nutritious vegetarian dinner.
Q: Now than I’m not using butter or milk, I miss the rich sauces I used to make. What can I do to liven up my meals?
A: This is probably the most common complaint from someone who hasgiven up dairy products. I’ve used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for 24 years inalmost everything, every day. It’s a staple that adds flavor to vegetables, stews, soups, rice, stirfries, toasted nuts and seeds andjust about anything you can think of. Mixed in a 1 to 4 ratio witholive oil, it makes a terrific salad dressing and dip for steamed artichokes. In my book you’ll see Bragg’s listed as an ingredient in a majority of the recipes.
Experiment with herbs, fresh or dried, sprinkled on grains, veggies ands alads. You’ll quickly find favorites that will enhance your meals and reduce your salt intake at the same time.
Q: The teacher in my child’s school hands out candy to the students.My son has attention deficit disorder and we have eliminated sugar from his diet. How can I tell the teacher that he’s not allowed to have the candy when all the other children are eating it?
A: Most teachers are aware of the findings that sugar exacerbates hyperactive behavior but still hand out chocolate and other candy as rewards since it works so well. You might request a meeting with herand ask if she would give your son a substitute, such as raisins, which are very nutritious. This would allow him to continue to feel part ofthe class and still receive a "reward."
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