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I'm a Vegetarian: Amazing facts and ideas for healthy vegetarians    by Ellen Schwartz & Farida Zaman order for
I'm a Vegetarian
by Ellen Schwartz
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ellen Schwartz addresses her book to both lifelong vegetarians and new ones, informs us that 'Vegetarianism has gone mainstream' and quotes George Bernard Shaw, who said that 'Animals are my friends - and I don't eat my friends.'

She introduces different sub-categories of vegetarians, including those who do and don't eat dairy products and eggs, then talks about concern for animal rights, the environment, health and religion as motivations of many who become vegetarians. A list of famous vegetarians includes Paul McCartney, Billie Jean King, Albert Einstein and H. G. Wells. There's a chapter on convincing parents. It covers myths and misconceptions, and includes a humorous FAQ addressed to 'Dear Veggie Dude', the experiences of other teens, and 'Snappy Comebacks'.

I enjoyed the short history of vegetarianism from Ancient Greece to the founding of the Vegetarian Society by (would you believe?) William Cowherd, in 1847, and its surge in popularity today. Specific foods are introduced, along with their use around the world. Soybeans, 'the meat without bones' are made into tofu, tangy tempeh, and textured vegetable protein (TVP). Lentils, one of our oldest cultivated foods are easy to digest. Quinoa, grain of a pigweed plant, has more protein than any other grain, and was sacred to the Incas. And of course Peanuts, Potatoes, and Chick Peas are familiar to us all.

Ellen Schwartz also tells us about the pros and cons of genetically modified food, and speculates about the future of food, for example the possibility of ocean and space station farming, and the cultivation of Spirulina, freshwater algae. Finally she gives us nutrition and common sense guidelines for eating healthy while eating vegetarian, and includes sample menus and recipes. I'm a Vegetarian is an engaging introduction to vegetarianism, with many fascinating facts, a small selection of recipes such as Vegetarian Chile or Spaghetti and Nut Balls, and a useful list of resources at the end for further exploration.

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