Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Benefits of Tofu

If you aren’t a vegetarian now and haven’t been one in the past, you probably also haven’t eaten tofu many times. In fact, the only time most people hear about tofu it is in jokes aimed at vegetarians.

So why is it that vegetarians eat this stuff all the time? Is is it simply because they have no other choice?

The answer is both yes and no.

Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to eat tofu. In fact, there are many vegetarians who never eat tofu or any popular meat-replacement dishes--such as "veggie burgers" or "tofurkey"--for that matter.

As long as they research and create meal plans, vegetarians can maintain a healthy diet eating traditional meals or ethnic dishes. Tofu is often cited as something exclusively vegetarian because it is a versatile, highly-nutritional, and can
be used to replace meat dishes.

Not only can it be created in textures, consistencies, and flavors that simulate a range of meats--from turkey to hamburg--but it can also actually replace and far exceed the nutritional value of similar meat dishes.

While vegetarians do not actually need to consume tofu, doing so is often a wise dietary choice--and also the next best thing to eating similar meat products (for those who enjoyed meat dishes before they became vegetarians).

Tofu is a low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-calorie food made out of steamed and compressed soy beans. Not only is it a great source of protein--which many vegetarians lack--but it is also heart-healthy and has been linked to a decreased
risk in cancer.

In addition to being served as a meat alternative, tofu is also served in a number of spicy and ethnic dishes, which were never intended to contain meat. Many ethnic Indian dishes contain large amounts of tofu cooked and spiced
in different ways.

So here is my suggestion to you: If you aren’t already a vegetarian, but want to become one, don’t let tofu get in your way. You can maintain a healthy vegetarian diet without ever eating it. However, if you already are a vegetarian, but haven’t tried tofu, I highly suggest you do. It is both nutritional and versatile - and it might not taste as bad as you think.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Benefits of Eliminating Fish from your Diet

Many people think if they just eliminate red meat and poultry from their diets, their eating healthier. This is partly true, but there are hazards to eating fish and seafood as well. The harm that humans have done to the environment has had a direct effect on the fish and seafood we eat.

There are elements of fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury.

For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

Is this any way to eat? In fear of what unhealthy elements are lurking in the food we eat? Eliminating red meat and eating a more vegetarian diet is an excellent start on the road to more healthy eating. Eliminating fish and seafood is one of the final steps towards eating a complete vegetarian diet and the health benefits that are your reward for making that change.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Vegetarian Cheese

Vegetarian cheese is cheese that is not curdled with rennet, an enzyme that occurs naturally in animal stomachs. Most vegetarian cheeses are curdled with either plants, fungi, or bacteria.

Vegetarians who do not consume cheese with rennet generally choose not to because it involves slaughtering animals to extract the enzymes.

Vegetarian cheese is hard to distinguish from cheese made with rennet. This lack of distinguisability often forces vegetarians who are ethically-opposed to harming animals to consume cheeses that contain rennet.

Even though more cheeses are being made with vegetable rennet, it is usually impossible to spot the difference, unless the package is clearly labeled "vegetarian cheese."

Recently, some grocery stores have started doing this to aid vegetarian shoppers, who would not otherwise be able to distinguish the difference between the vegetable and animal rennet cheeses.

In addition to eating cheeses made with vegetable rennet, there are more alternatives to eating regular cheese.

Vegans, for instance, do not consume cheese at all because it is an animal byproduct and subsequently requires animals to be caged and suffer. Many vegans, however, do
consume cheese substitutes.

Chreese is one of these substitutes. Chreese is an all natural, non-soy, cheese replacement that requires substantially less natural resources and energy to create than cheese with rennet.

And chreese is just one substitute. There are a number of other all natural alternatives you can find at local organic and health food stores.

If you are a vegetarian and you don't support animal suffering on your behalf in any capacity, you may also want to consider adjusting your dietary habits if you consume cheese made with animal rennet.

To summarize, you have three basic options:

(1) you can look for grocery stores that label vegetarian cheese;
(2) you can purchase vegetarian cheese online; or
(3) you can purchase cheese alternatives online or at your local organic or health food store.