Living Vegetarian For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Being Vegetarian: What It’s All About

Part II: Planning and Preparing Your Vegetarian Kitchen

Part III: Meals Made Easy: Recipes for Everyone

Part IV: Living — and Loving — the Vegetarian Lifestyle

Part V: Living Vegetarian for a Lifetime

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Being Vegetarian: What It’s All About

Chapter 1: Vegetarianism 101: Starting with the Basics

Vegetarian Label Lingo: Who’s Who and What They Will and Won’t Eat

From vegan to flexitarian: Sorting out the types of vegetarianism

The vegetarian continuum: Going vegetarian a little or a lot

Common foods that happen to be vegetarian: Beyond mac and cheese

When meat-free isn’t vegetarian: Bypassing meat byproducts

Going Vegetarian Is Good for Everyone

Eating for health

Protecting our planet

Compassionate food choices

Meatless Meals Made Easy

Mastering meal planning and prep

Shopping strategies

Mixing in some kitchen wisdom

Cooking creatively

Embracing a Meat-Free Lifestyle

Taking charge of your plate

Your public persona: Affirming your choice

Cohabitating harmoniously

Setting realistic expectations

Educating yourself with reliable information

Chapter 2: Vegetarians Are Sprouting Up All Over: Why Meatless Makes Sense

You’re in Good Company

Supporting Your Health with a Plant-Based Diet

Protecting yourself from disease

Getting more of what you need — and less of what you don’t

Saving the Planet One Forkful at a Time

Soil sense

Wasting water

Filching fossil fuels

Considering the Ethics

Philosophically speaking

Understanding animal rights and animal welfare

Chapter 3: Nutrition Know-How for Living Vegetarian

Consuming Enough Protein on a Vegetarian Diet

Examining protein facts

Debunking old rules about complementary proteins

Getting the protein you need: It’s easy to do

Avoiding protein pitfalls

Moooove Over Milk

Determining who needs milk: The bones of current dietary recommendations

Understanding the calcium connection

Making sure you get enough calcium

Hanging on to the calcium you have

Iron Issues

Ironing out the basics

Finding iron in plant foods

Balancing inhibitors and enhancers of iron absorption

Building B12 Stores

Getting educated about vitamin B12

Finding reliable sources of B12

Omega-3s and Your Health

Spotting the best vegetarian sources of omega-3s

Getting the omega-3s you need

Other Vitamins and Minerals

The sunshine vitamin: Vitamin D

For your health: Zinc

The other B: Riboflavin

Chapter 4: Supplement Savvy

Examining What the Science Says

Do supplements work?

Can they hurt me?

Recognizing When a Supplement Makes Sense

Special situations that call for a supplement

Nutritional insurance

Using Supplements Safely

Daily supplements versus high-potency formulas

Multivitamins versus individual vitamins and minerals

When supplements act like drugs: Being aware of interactions

Considering Herbs and Probiotics

Understanding what they are

Knowing how to use them safely

Locating Reliable Sources of More Information

Chapter 5: Making the Transition to Meat-Free

Finding the Right Approach

Going cold tofu: Instant vegetarian

Taking your time: The gradual approach

Easing the Way

Defining some simple steps

Setting your goals

Monitoring your progress

Making Sure It’s Meat-Free

Being wary of hidden animal ingredients

Communicating with food companies

Tracking down resources for up-to-date advice

Applying More Advice for Getting Started

Scouting out supermarkets

Scanning cookbooks and magazines

Listing vegetarian foods you already like

Part II: Planning and Preparing Your Vegetarian Kitchen

Chapter 6: Getting Familiar with Common Vegetarian Ingredients

Building the Foundation of the Vegetarian Diet

Bringing home the beans

Eating more vegetables and fruits

Choosing breads and cereals

Selecting seeds and nuts

Fitting in Specialty Foods and Products

Introducing soy foods and their variations

Making the most of milk substitutes

Incorporating egg replacers

Considering meatless burgers, dogs, sausages, and cold cuts

Including other vegetarian convenience foods

Exploring Natural and Organic Alternatives

Going au naturel

Opting for organic

Chapter 7: Shopping and Stocking Your Vegetarian Pantry

Figuring Out What You Need

Sketching out your meal plans

Keeping a grocery list

Let’s Go Shopping! Considering the Options

Your neighborhood supermarket

Warehouse stores

Natural foods stores

Farmer’s markets and CSA farms

Ethnic food markets

Food cooperatives

Gourmet stores

Web sites and catalogs

Other places to try

Making the Most of Your Shopping Adventure

Slowing down to see what’s new

Experimenting with new foods and products

Don’t see what you need? Ask the manager

Keeping Your Costs Under Control

Collecting the building blocks to keep on hand

Buying in volume — or not

Perusing private labels and store brands

Scaling back on specialty items

Getting the best value — nutritiously

Cooking meals at home

Chapter 8: Cooking Tools and Techniques

Tools You Really Need

Pots and pans


Assorted extras

Handy Appliances You May Actually Use

High-speed blenders

Food processors

Rice cookers

Pressure cookers

Slow cookers

Electric teakettles

Vegetarian Cooking Basics

Mastering simple cooking skills

Prepping fruits and vegetables

Cooking extra now for later

Discovering a few tricks for cooking with tofu and tempeh

Adapting Traditional Recipes

Replacing eggs

Cooking with dairy substitutes

Using meat substitutes

Factoring in other replacements for animal ingredients

Selecting Vegetarian Cookbooks

Part III: Meals Made Easy: Recipes for Everyone

Chapter 9: Beyond Cereal and Toast: Whipping Up Breakfast Basics

Getting Off to a Smoothie Start

Using Tofu to Take the Place of Eggs

Putting a Vegetarian Spin on Breakfast Favorites

Starting Your Day the Miso Way

Chapter 10: Serving Simple Starters

Making Dips and Spreads

Creating Other Easy Appetizers

Chapter 11: Enjoying Easy Soups, Salads, and Sides

Serving Soups for All Seasons

Going Beyond Iceberg Lettuce

On the Side

Chapter 12: Making Meatless Main Dishes

Beans: Versatility in a Can


All-Time Favorites

Asian Alternatives

Chapter 13: Baking Easy Breads and Rolls

Chapter 14: Dishing Out Delicious Desserts

Chocolate Desserts

Fruit Desserts

Other Classic Comforts

Chapter 15: Celebrating the Holidays, Vegetarian-Style

Adopting New Traditions and Adapting the Old

Tips for Entertaining for Special Occasions

Holiday Recipes to Savor

Part IV: Living — and Loving — the Vegetarian Lifestyle

Chapter 16: Getting Along When You’re the Only Vegetarian in the House

Managing Family Meals

Fixing both meat and vegetarian foods

Making do when you need to

Finding the vegetarian least common denominator

Gaining Support from Nonvegetarians

Employing strategies for compromise

Setting a positive example

Negotiating the Menu When Guests Come

Giving your guests options

Serving meals with mainstream appeal

Minimizing the focus on meat-free

Chapter 17: Vegetarian Etiquette in a Nonvegetarian World

Mastering the Art of Diplomacy

Watching how you present yourself

Responding to questions about your vegetarianism

Being an effective role model

Handling Dinner Invitations

Letting your host know about your diet

Offering to bring a dish

Graciously declining nonvegetarian foods

Being a stealth vegetarian: What to do if your host doesn’t know

Managing Invitations to Parties and Other Special Events

Handling parties at private homes

Making your way through public venues

Dating Nonvegetarians

Working It Out: Vegetarianism on the Job

To tell or not to tell?

Handling meals during job interviews

Leaving a positive impression

Chapter 18: Dining in Restaurants and Other Venues

Adopting the Right Attitude

Staying flexible

Savoring the atmosphere and the companionship

Choosing the Restaurant

Chains versus fine dining

Vegetarian restaurants and natural foods cafes

Ethnic options

Working with Menu Choices

Asking about appetizers

Surveying the sides

Coming up with creative combinations

Making sensible substitutions

Working with Restaurant Staff

Traveling Vegetarian

Tips for trippin’ by car, bus, or train

Food for fliers

Meatless at sea

Coming up with alternatives: When plans go awry

Part V: Living Vegetarian for a Lifetime

Chapter 19: When You’re Expecting: Managing Your Vegetarian Pregnancy

Before Baby: Ensuring a Healthy Start

Maximizing nutrition before you get pregnant

Staying physically fit

Eating Well for Two

Watching your weight gain

Putting nutritional concerns in perspective

Keeping mealtime simple

Handling Queasies and Cravings

Dealing with morning sickness any time of day

Managing the munchies

Chapter 20: Raising Your Vegetarian Baby

Taking Vegetarian Baby Steps

First foods: Breast and bottle basics

Solids second

Adding foods throughout the first year

Tracking Your Toddler

Planning meals

Adjusting to food jags

Getting enough calories

Vegan or vegetarian? Determining what’s appropriate for young children

Serving sensible snacks

Chapter 21: Meatless Meals for Children and Teens

Watching Your Kids Grow

Understanding issues about growth rates

Putting size into perspective

Feeding Fundamentals

Making sure kids get enough calories

Reviewing the ABCs of nutrition for kids

Planning healthy meals

Teaching Your Children to Love Good Foods

Modeling healthy choices

Giving kids the freedom to choose

Getting kids involved in meal planning

Troubleshooting Common Challenges

Making the most of school meals

Supporting a healthy weight

Dejunking your child’s diet

Chapter 22: Aging Healthfully: Vegetarian Lifestyles for Adults of All Ages

Monitoring Changing Nutrient Needs

Getting more for less

Paying special attention to specific nutrients

Celebrating the Vegetarian Advantage

Being fiber-full and constipation-free

Heading off heartburn

Getting a grip on gas

Living vegetarian is good for what ails you

Staying Active the Vegetarian Way

Nourishing the weekend warrior

Giving elite athletes the edge

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 23: Ten Sound Reasons for Going Vegetarian

Vegetarian Diets Are Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Vegetarian Diets Are Rich in Fiber, Phytochemicals, and Health-Supporting Nutrients

Vegetarians Are Skinnier

Vegetarians Are Healthier

Vegetarian Diets Are Good for the Environment

Vegetarian Diets Are Less Expensive

Vegetarian Diets Are More Efficient

Vegetarian Diets Are the Compassionate Choice

Vegetarian Foods Are Diverse and Delicious

Vegetarian Diets Set a Good Example for Children

Chapter 24: Ten Simple Substitutes for Vegetarian Dishes

Replace Eggs with Mashed Bananas

Substitute Soymilk or Rice Milk for Cow’s Milk in Any Recipe

Use Vegetable Broth in Place of Chicken Stock and Beef Broth

Stir in Soy Crumbles Instead of Ground Meat

Make a Nondairy Version of Ricotta or Cottage Cheese

Take Advantage of Soy “Bacon” and “Sausage”

Top a Tofu Hot Dog with Vegetarian Chili

Create a Nondairy Substitute for Buttermilk

Add Flaxseeds Instead of Eggs

Swap Tofu for Hard-Boiled Eggs

Chapter 25: Ten Vegetarian Lunchbox Ideas

Almond Butter Sandwich with Granny Smith Apple Slices on Whole-Wheat Bread

Bean Burrito

Easy Wraps

Fresh Fruit Salad with Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt

Granola Parfait

Leftovers from Last Night’s Dinner

Pita Pocket Sandwich

Soup Cup

Vegetarian Chili

Veggie Burger on a Bun

Living Vegetarian For Dummies®

by Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD

Foreword by Michael F. Jacobson, PhD


About the Author

Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD, is a registered, licensed dietitian and nationally recognized expert on food, nutrition, and dietary guidance policy. She holds a doctorate in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a clinical associate professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the nation’s top public school of public health. There she directs the doctoral program in health leadership and serves on the faculty of the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Department of Nutrition.

Sue was the primary author of the American Dietetic Association’s 1988 and 1993 position papers on vegetarian diets and the founding chair of the association’s Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She serves on the editorial board of Vegetarian Times magazine and advisory boards of the nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

A vegan-leaning, lacto ovo vegetarian for 35 years, Sue explores topics related to food, nutrition, and policy issues in her popular newspaper column, On the Table. The column reaches more than 400,000 readers weekly in The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, and in The Charlotte Observer. An archive of On the Table columns, as well as Sue’s blog, may be found at

She has written 11 books, including Get the Trans Fat Out (Three Rivers Press), Vegetarian Cooking For Dummies (Wiley), The Natural Kitchen (Berkley), Good Foods, Bad Foods: What’s Left to Eat? (Wiley), and Shopping for Health: A Nutritionist’s Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Smart, Low-Fat Choices at the Supermarket (Harper Perennial). She is a contributing writer for the “Bottom Line/Personal” newsletter and has been a regular writer for Vegetarian Times and SELF magazines and other national publications.

Sue is a member of the American Public Health Association, American Dietetic Association, Association of Health Care Journalists, Association of Food Journalists, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She served on the board of directors of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. She also serves on the board of trustees of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her family includes her husband, Michael R. Hobbs; their children, Barbara and Henry; and dogs Kailani and Sperry and cat Kodak.


This book is dedicated to people everywhere who strive to eat well to support their health and to protect the well-being of our environment and the other living things with whom we share our beautiful planet.

Author’s Acknowledgments

Heartfelt thanks to the kind, competent, and hardworking team at Wiley Publishing who made this book possible: to Acquisitions Editor Michael Lewis, Project Editor Sarah Faulkner, Copy Editor Todd Lothery, and intern Beth Staton, who expertly guided this book from concept to completion, and to their very talented colleagues, who worked their magic in the design and production departments. I’m grateful to Patricia Santelli for her assistance with the nutritional analyses of the recipes, and to expert recipe tester Emily Nolan for her good work. I’m especially indebted to my longtime friend and colleague, Ginny Messina, for her help with the technical review. Many thanks as well go to my agent, Mary Ann Naples, and her colleagues at The Creative Culture, as well as to my former agent and good friend, Patti Breitman, with whom I worked on the predecessor to this book, Being Vegetarian For Dummies (Wiley). It is such a privilege and joy to be part of a team of so many outstanding professionals.

Many of my colleagues in the U.S., in Canada, and around the world have dedicated their lives and careers to advancing knowledge in nutrition science, the links between diet and health, and the practice of diet and health policymaking. My work builds on theirs, and I salute the collective efforts of this community of scholars and practitioners.

I am grateful for my family and friends and their continued support and good humor. Special thanks to my sisters-in-law, Laura Bridges and Karen Bush, for lending me a beautiful beachfront getaway on the North Carolina coast, where I wrote several chapters in record time under the spell of ocean breezes, sea oats, and swooping pelicans. My husband, Mike, helped me day-to-day with his encouraging words, brilliant ideas, and the occasional caipirinha on the back deck.

I am indebted, too, to readers of my newspaper column, On the Table. Their feedback and encouragement help me stay in touch with issues of primary concern to people trying to do their best to make wise food choices.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Sarah Faulkner

Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Copy Editor: Todd Lothery

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Virginia Messina, MPH, RD

Recipe Tester: Emily Nolan

Nutrition Analyst: Patricia Santelli

Editorial Manager: Christine Meloy Beck

Editorial Assistants: Jennette ElNaggar, David Lutton

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: © SoFood / Alamy

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Ashley Chamberlain

Illustrator: Elizabeth Kurtzman

Proofreaders: Evelyn C. Gibson, Dwight Ramsey

Indexer: Dakota Indexing

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Simply put, this book may be the most important book you read this year . . . or this decade.

When I was in college, I certainly could have used a book like Living Vegetarian For Dummies. Somehow, I had heard that a vegetarian diet was healthful, or perhaps just cool, so I tried it. The first evening I ate a pound of broccoli. The next night I ate a pound of cauliflower. And so on. Actually, my first bout with vegetarianism may not have lasted more than those first two days.

I thought that “vegetarian” meant eating only vegetables. I only wish that Suzanne Havala Hobbs had been around to hold me by the hand (as this book will do for you) and show me that vegetarian diets are typically more varied, more healthful, and more delicious than the typical steak-and-potatoes (or burger-and-fries in my case) American diet.

Truth be told, I never became a full-fledged vegetarian, let alone a vegan, and most casual claimants to vegetarianism probably also cheat a bit. Flexitarian is what we say we are, which often means eating mostly vegetarian, but dining on fish, chicken, or even beef or pork occasionally. Such folks gain most of the health benefits of well-constructed vegetarian diets, but can’t claim to be free of any responsibility for the maltreatment of farm animals (especially layer hens, dairy cows, and veal calves). At the other end of vegetarianism are vegans, who, notwithstanding all the temptations of daily life in North America, eschew even the lacto ovo foods that regular vegetarians eat plenty of. Fortunately, Sue Hobbs provides sensible guidance for people at every point on the vegetarian spectrum.

Some people (including me) have moved toward vegetarian diets mostly for health reasons, and those reasons are ample. Vegetarians (and I don’t mean people whose notion of vegetarianism is chowing down on soft drinks, cookies, quiches, and chocolate bars) have lower risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. (Because most studies include few vegans, it’s unclear whether vegans fare even better than run-of-the-mill lacto ovo vegetarian.)

Probably more people are attracted to vegetarianism for moral reasons. Eating animal products inevitably means that one is contributing to the miserable circumstances in which most farm animals spend their lives. Raising cattle, pigs, and chickens on grass and grubs certainly reduces the misery, but most vegans end up vegans because they don’t want to feel culpable for any part of the raising and killing of animals.

If better health for yourself and avoidance of cruelty to animals aren’t reason enough to eat a more plant-based diet, consider the benefits to the environment. Raising animals means using more energy-intensive fertilizer, much of which ends up polluting waterways. It means using huge quantities of water to irrigate fields of feed grains. Questionably safe pesticides endanger farm workers and wildlife. And the animals themselves emit greenhouse gases in the form of manure (which may also pollute rivers and streams) and cows’ belching of methane gas. Eating fewer animal products and more fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts will help protect our increasingly crowded and polluted planet.

But back to basics: your taste buds will thank you, day after day, for moving in a vegetarian direction. Enjoy!

Michael F. Jacobson, PhD

Executive Director

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Washington, DC


Vegetarianism has come a long, long way.

As a child, I wore a button that said, “Real People Wear Fake Furs.” I’d picked it up at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair when my older sister was in college at the University of Michigan. It was the late ’60s, and it wasn’t much longer before my mother announced to our family that from then on, she would be a vegetarian. She never said why, but for the next several years, the former Wisconsinite ate cheese omelets or cheddar-cheese-and-pickle sandwiches on whole-wheat toast for dinner while the rest of us ate the meat she prepared for us. That is, of course, until we kids followed her lead and, one by one and without fanfare, became vegetarians ourselves.

My dad worried we’d miss vital nutrients. He chided my mother for planting the idea. Mom, a registered nurse, was considered a bit odd by her hospital colleagues. By now, it was the early ’70s, and vegetarians lived on communes or wore Birkenstocks and long hair on college campuses. They weren’t kids and working, middle-aged moms.

A competitive swimmer in high school, I hoped that a vegetarian diet would boost my endurance and athletic performance, as Olympic gold medalist Murray Rose claimed it had for him. It didn’t help enough, but it did pique my interest in nutrition and set me on the path to a career in dietetics. It would be many years, however, before the scientific community came around to the idea that a diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts can be adequate — never mind superior — to a diet centered on animal products.

In college, I learned about vegetarianism in a lesson on fad diets. At that time, in the early 1980s, a blood cholesterol level of 300 mg/dl was considered normal, and patients in the coronary care unit in the hospital got bacon and eggs and white toast for breakfast.

My grandmother worried that I wouldn’t get enough iron if I didn’t eat red meat. She thought that my slender body wasn’t “healthy” enough in size as compared to her old-world, European standards. For baby boomers like me, this was the environment for vegetarians in North America 30 years ago.

Everything is different now.

In the last 20 years, the American Dietetic Association — long the conservative holdout on such matters — went from cautious at first, to later tentative at best, to now clearly stating in its position papers that vegetarian diets confer health advantages. U.S. government dietary recommendations now explicitly acknowledge the vegetarian alternative and advise all Americans to make fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes the foundation of a healthy diet. It’s as close as the government can come to a stamp of approval for a plant-based diet as it balances science with the economic interests of the powerful meat and dairy industries.

As a practicing nutritionist and vegetarian, I’ve observed these changes taking place over decades. The scientific rationale for eating a plant-based diet is well-documented. The advantages for everyone and everything on our planet are compelling. The next task is helping people everywhere make the transition to an eating style that, at this time, is still outside the cultural norm in many countries. Accomplishing this requires education and the political will to initiate and enforce policies to create an environment that makes it easier for you and me to sustain lifestyles that support health.

Living vegetarian is an excellent way to meet today’s dietary recommendations for good health. This book is for everyone who wants to understand the future of preventive nutrition and get a head start on making the switch.

About This Book

This book is for vegetarians and prospective vegetarians, too — for anyone curious about what a vegan is, for those who still have questions about where vegetarians get their protein, for parents who are wringing their hands because Junior has “gone vegetarian,” and for Junior to give to Mom and Dad so that they won’t worry.

This book is for vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. Whether you want to control or prevent diseases such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, manage your weight, save money, or help keep the planet healthy and the animals happy, this book has what you need. That’s because the secret to living well is eating well, and to eat well, you need to make plant foods the foundation of your diet.

It’s the simple truth.

Don’t feel you need to read the chapters in this book in order or read the book from cover to cover. It’s designed to make sense and be helpful whether you surf it or read it in its entirety. Throughout the text, you’ll find cross-references to guide you to other parts of the book where you can find related information.

Conventions Used in This Book

To make this book easier to read, I adhere to the following conventions or rules throughout:

When I use the term vegetarian, I’m using it generically. In other words, it includes all the various subtypes — vegans, lacto, lacto ovo, and other variations of a vegetarian diet. When I want you to know something unique to a particular form of vegetarianism, I refer to the specific diet subtype. (Chapter 1 gives you definitions and explanations of each of these types of vegetarianism.)

I use italics to introduce new terms, and I give you definitions of the new terms shortly thereafter.

Bold text makes it easy to spot keywords in bulleted lists.

Web addresses are printed in monofont, like this.

When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that I haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So, when using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, pretending the line break doesn’t exist.

I don’t specify most recipe ingredients as being organic, conventional, low-sodium, or other possible variations. When you shop for ingredients, feel free to make these choices as you see fit.

Some recipes note the substitutions to make the dish suitable for vegans. In cases where I don’t provide that information, feel free to experiment and make the substitutions yourself. I provide lots of information about recipe substitutions in Chapter 8.

All margarine in the recipes is trans fat-free.

All temperatures in the recipes are in Fahrenheit.

What You’re Not to Read

It’s great if you read the entire book. You won’t miss any helpful hints and information that way. On the other hand, some information I include isn’t as critical for you to know as the rest. If you need to pare down your reading, here’s what you can save for later:

Material flagged with the Technical Stuff icon: These paragraphs contain information that, while interesting, isn’t vital to your understanding of the topic.

Sidebars: This information is scattered throughout the book in shaded boxes. It’s similar to the Technical Stuff: great if you have the time, but not critical for you to read.

Recipes: I include a collection of good starter recipes for anyone who wants to give them a try. No need to read these unless you’re ready to get started in the kitchen.

Foolish Assumptions

If you’re holding this book, you or someone who loves you bought or borrowed this book to gain a better understanding of how to live a vegetarian lifestyle. I’m assuming that this book is appropriate for a variety of purposes, including:

Dipping your toe into the topic. If you just want a little more information to help you decide whether living vegetarian may be something you’d like to consider doing, this book is appropriate for you.

Digging in deeper. You may already have a general sense of what’s involved in living vegetarian, but you want more in-depth advice and understanding of how to go about it. This book is for you.

Sharing the knowledge. If you know someone with an interest in going vegetarian — or someone who may simply be curious and interested in finding out more — this book is a reliable resource.

Refreshing your own knowledge. Longtime vegetarians may benefit from the up-to-date information in this book.

Having a reference on hand. Health professionals often encounter vegetarians in their work and have to give them medical or dietary advice. If you’re a health professional and you have no personal experience with a vegetarian lifestyle, this book may be helpful as an accurate and quick reference.

You can make some assumptions about me, too:

I know what I’m talking about. I’m a licensed, registered dietitian with a master’s degree in human nutrition and a doctorate in public health. I’m a leading expert on vegetarian nutrition and have lived a vegetarian lifestyle myself for 35 years.

My advice is practical. It’s informed by my own experience of living vegetarian for more than three decades, as well as many years of experience counseling individuals on special diets, including both vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

I’m not giving individualized advice. As much as I wish it were possible, books aren’t an appropriate means of dispensing medical or dietary advice tailored to individual needs. I can give you general information that provides you with a good foundation of knowledge about the topic. However, if you have specific issues you need help with — particularly medical conditions that require you to follow a special diet — you should get additional, individualized guidance from a registered dietitian. I include information in Chapter 1 about how to locate a dietitian with expertise in vegetarian diets.

How This Book Is Organized

Living Vegetarian For Dummies is divided into six parts. The book is organized to take you through a logical progression of information, moving from basic to more in-depth, depending on your level of interest and experience.

Parts I and II provide fundamental information that you should know if you’re contemplating going vegetarian full time or part time. Part III includes recipes to get you started. Parts IV, V, and VI are important for anyone ready to dig a little deeper who wants more advanced-level skills.

Each part focuses on a different aspect of vegetarianism, from the basic who, what, and why to the nutritional underpinnings of a diet without meat, strategies to help you make the transition, and tips on how to maintain the lifestyle over time. Together, the six parts of this book lay the foundation for understanding the vegetarian lifestyle and building the skills necessary to successfully adapt.

Part I: Being Vegetarian: What It’s All About

This part peels away the first layer of mystery around issues of vegetarianism. It gets to the bottom of the various definitions of vegetarian diets, revealing once and for all what the word vegan means and how to pronounce it. It looks at what vegetarians do eat, including vegetarian traditions around the world, rather than stopping at what they don’t eat. This part also discusses the reasons people adopt a vegetarian diet and the nutritional aspects of vegetarian diets. It also guides you with good-sense advice and strategies for making the transition.

Part II: Planning and Preparing Your Vegetarian Kitchen

This part explains how to set up a vegetarian-friendly kitchen so that you can make more meals at home. It covers what you need to know about common and versatile ingredients, where to shop for them, and strategies for getting the best values. This part also focuses on practical equipment and basic cooking techniques you should know to help you get started.

Part III: Meals Made Easy: Recipes for Everyone

I provide a good set of starter recipes in this part, covering the major food categories and including recipes that are versatile and practical. Ingredient lists are short, and basic cooking skills are all that’s necessary to follow the simple instructions. You can modify most of the recipes to add or subtract animal ingredients, depending on the extent to which you want to include or exclude them.

Part IV: Living — and Loving — the Vegetarian Lifestyle

This part provides advanced advice for anyone who’s ready for intermediate- to advanced-level skills in living vegetarian. It includes strategies for families that have only one vegetarian in the household and tips for getting along in social situations outside your home. This part also includes information about how to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle when eating out at restaurants and traveling away from home.

Part V: Living Vegetarian for a Lifetime

Part V takes a life-course view of living vegetarian, with advice that’s specialized for whatever stage you’re in. I include information about living vegetarian during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and the teen years, as well as into adulthood and older adulthood.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

All For Dummies books end with The Part of Tens, a collection of handy tips, lists, and fun facts that are easy to read at a glance. The chapters in this part provide you with a quick list of reasons why it makes sense to go vegetarian, as well as practical advice about how to make it happen, including simple ingredient substitutions and easy lunchbox ideas.

Icons Used in This Book

Another fun feature of For Dummies books is the clever icons that flag helpful nuggets of information. Each icon denotes a particular type of information. Here’s what each icon means:

tip.eps Tips are insights or other helpful clues that may make it more convenient or hassle-free for you to follow a vegetarian diet.

remember.eps When you see this icon, the information that follows is a rule-of-thumb or another truism you should keep in mind.

warning_bomb.eps If you see this icon, the information is meant to help you avoid a common pitfall or to keep you from getting into trouble.

technicalstuff.eps This is information that, while interesting, isn’t vital to your understanding of the topic. In other words, some of you may skip it, but it’s there if you care to find out more.

Where to Go from Here

The science of nutrition is complicated, but being well-nourished is a relatively simple matter. It’s even easier to do if you eat a wholesome, plant-based diet. That’s where this book comes in.

If you want a clearer understanding of what vegetarianism is, start with the foundational information in Chapter 1. If you have a child or teenager who’s interested in becoming vegetarian, check out Chapter 21. If you’re ready to whip up some tasty vegetarian meals, head straight to Part III — you can start with the breakfast recipes in Chapter 9 or skip straight to the dessert recipes in Chapter 14 (I won’t tell!).

Whether you go vegetarian all the way or part of the way, moving to a more plant-based diet is one of the smartest moves you can make. I hope this book helps. Best wishes to you as you take the first step!

Part I

Being Vegetarian: What It’s All About


In this part . . .

To change the way you eat, you not only have to gain knowledge and develop and practice new skills, but you also have to change your mind-set. That includes replacing old traditions with new ones. That’s the fun of it, and that’s the challenge, too.

In this part of the book, I cover basic information you need to help you get started. I define the various types of vegetarian diets and explain the reasons many people make the switch. I give you the background you need to understand nutrition issues pertaining to meatless diets, including how to ensure you get what you need from whole foods. I also discuss the pros and cons of taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

I also share some good-sense advice about living the vegetarian lifestyle. I explain how to plan for meatless meals, and I coach you on practical ways to master the behavioral changes that are a part of the transition to a new eating style.

It’s exciting! Let’s get started. . . .