NEW CASTLE —
Is there any chance that you would be willing to become “vegetarian inclined?”
In a “Vegetarianism in America” study published by Vegetarian Times magazine, 5,050 people were polled, and the resulting data showed that that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian diet. Approximately 10 percent of U.S. adults — 22.8 million — follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.
Another 5.2 percent, or 11.9 million people, who are not vegetarian responded that they are “definitely interested” in following a vegetarian-based diet in the future.
The report suggests a growing trend toward eating a more vegetarian-based diet. The No. 1 reason for this trend was for health reasons. Second was environmental concerns.
So how hard is it to shift you way of living?
When I asked our Ornish Reversal participants, who are following a prescriptive vegetarian-based diet, how difficult it was to adapt, their overwhelming response toward the transition from eating meat was how surprised they were — it was easy.
Robin Cope grew up on a farm where Black Angus steer were raised.
“It’s an easy change. When you feel so much better, you don’t feel you’re being deprived of anything,” Cope said. “That’s how you know you made a good choice — you feel good. I actually feel bad now for people who are eating foods that are contributing to their poor health.”
“I expected it to be harder,” Elaine Confer said. “I did have a little challenge cutting the meat out. I felt a little bit hungry until I learned to eat more beans and brown rice. Now I feel great. I have more strength and stamina.
“In the past, I had four choices for dinner — beef, pork, chicken, fish — and I threw a few vegetable around the meat.”
Confer noted that now, with no need to focus on the meat, she sees unlimited choices with the hundreds of varieties and combinations of whole grains, fruits and vegetables that are the basis of her diet.
Tony Mangino describes his shift to vegetarianism as “life changing.”
“It’s second nature now,” he said. “Once I changed, I felt so much better, I didn’t want to go back.”
Mangino also noticed that his past diet, which was more toward traditionally American, just isn’t that appealing now.
“I don’t have that heavy, stuffed feeling anymore.”
As a couple, Leisa and Ernie Fobes have switched to a vegetarian diet together.
Ernie is a hunter and always liked wild game. “I was a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy,” he said.
To date, Ernie has lost more than 45 pounds.
Leisa said that by changing their lifestyle together the switch was much easier.
“I don’t have to handle and prepare meat and try to maintain my choice to be vegetarian because Ernie is also committed to eliminating animal products from his diet, too, which is a big relief.”
Leisa also noted that cutting meat out and adding a half-cup of beans per day to her diet has helped her irritable bowel.
Ernie said he had looked into a vegetarian diet for several years before choosing to make it his lifestlyle. The impact on diabetes and other diseases was very impressive and was part of his final decision to cut meat out of his diet.
So, if you are interested in becoming more “vegetarian-inclined,” perhaps these testimonials will sway you toward eating more veggies, fruits and whole grains as your main course.
The Ornish Spectrum Program can teach you the healthy way to eat a more “vegetarian inclined” diet. The next six-week program begins Sept. 5.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- Mashed potato layer:
- 5 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup soy milk (or fat-free milk)
- 3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt
- •Bottom layer:
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 clove garlic, minced, or more to taste
- 1 pinch ground black pepper to taste
- 1 (14 ounce) package vegetarian ground beef substitute (Boca crumbles or Morning Star crumbles in “meat alternatives” frozen section of store)
- 1/4 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, and boil the potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.
Stir mayonnaise, milk, cream cheese and salt into the potatoes, and mash with a potato masher until smooth and fluffy. Set the potatoes aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Sauté all vegetables in a large skillet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray (or use 1/4 cup vegetable broth) for approximately 10 minutes until all vegetables are soft. Stir in Italian seasoning, garlic and pepper.
Reduce the heat to medium low, and crumble the vegetarian ground beef substitute into the skillet with the vegetables. Cook and stir, breaking up the meat substitute until mixture is hot, about 5 minutes.
Spread the vegetarian meat and vegetables on the bottom of the baking dish, and top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing them into an even layer. Sprinkle the potatoes with the shredded cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and slightly browned and the casserole is hot, about 20 minutes.