Q: Is being vegetarian just about not eating meat?

A: Technically yes, but there are several types of vegetarians.

  1. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy foods and eggs.
  2. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but not eggs.
  3. Vegans eat no meat or animal byproducts of any kind.

Notice that none of these include fish. A common misconception is that vegetarians eat fish. Typically vegetarians do not eat animal meat of any kind. We at Vegetarian Zen are lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Q: What are the health benefits of being a vegetarian?

A: Various studies have shown that eliminating animals and animal byproducts from our diets can reduce health risks such as obesity, cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. A study conducted in 2008 indicated that over half (53 percent) of current vegetarians eat a vegetarian diet to improve their overall health. Environmental concerns were cited by 47 percent; 39 percent cited  “natural approaches to wellness”; 31 percent cited food-safety concerns; 54 percent cited animal welfare; 25 percent cited weight loss; and 24 percent weight maintenance.

Q: Is it difficult being a vegetarian?

A: Being a vegetarian in this day and age isn’t very difficult. It does take some preplanning and an occasional adjustment in plans but many restaurants have suitable accommodations for those living a vegetarian lifestyle.  We have experienced much more of a variety in our eating since many ethnic foods tend to lend themselves well to a vegetarian diet. Mexican food and Indian Food in particular have a lot to offer!

Q: So what’s the deal with tofu? 

A: A staple in Eastern cultures for centuries, in Western culture in recent decades, tofu has surged in popularity among vegetarians and vegans. Mention the word to people who don’t consume tofu regularly, and you may get a response like, “Eeeww, it has no flavor, a strange texture, and didn’t I read something about soy products causing cancer?” Tofu is made from soybeans, water, and a curdling agent, such as vinegar or fresh lemon juice.  Tofu tends to take on the flavor of what it is cooked in (soy sauce, barbecue sauce, other marinades, etc), making it suitable for use in many different cuisines.  Many people compare the texture of cooked tofu to that of cooked chicken. There are many health benefits to eating tofu, particularly if you follow a vegetarian diet, since it’s a great source of protein. There have also been some studies conducted which have suggested some potentially negative aspects of consuming soy products, including tofu. We will be sharing some of our findings with the Vegetarian Zen community in future posts/podcasts. For now though, as with anything else, moderation is the key.

Q: How do I know I’m eating a balanced diet with regard to nutrients?

A: The first big mistake we made when choosing to live a vegetarian lifestyle was to simply give up meat without researching how to ensure we were getting the right nutrients.  Getting enough protein seems to be the most common nutrition concern among vegetarians.  For vegans who don’t get protein from egg/dairy sources, consuming enough protein can be even more of a challenge. Good sources of protein for vegetarians include:

  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, soybeans)
  • Quinoa and other whole grains
  • Nuts (be careful not too many as these are high in fat!)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu

Juicing has also become a regular habit in our household to help ensure we are getting plenty of nutrients.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “FAQ

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  2. Hi ladies,

    I recently discovered your podcast and I’m hooked! I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for nearly four years. Even still, I learn something new nearly every time I listen to one of your episodes. I’ve got a long commute to and from work everyday, which I’ve been doing (and dreading) for over four years. Now that I’ve discovered the Vegetarian Zen podcast, I look forward to the drive so I can listen, learn and laugh along with you. I’m American, but have been living in Australia for almost eight years, so hearing familiar American accents and hearing references to American TV shows, brands and products makes me feel like I’m back home. Thanks for teaching me something new and delivering it in a way that’s easy to understand and enjoyable! Vickie, you mentioned that you’re a big fan of podcasts. I’m wondering if you might provide a list of your top 10-20 favorite podcasts for reference (other than Vegetarian Zen, of course). 🙂 Cheers, Marianne

    • Hi Marianne!

      I’m so happy you found us, and are enjoying the podcast. Glad to know we’re able to bring a little bit of the US to you Down Under! Vickie said she’d be happy to curate a list of her favorite podcasts for you. Most of what she listens to is business/entrepreneurship oriented, but she does have some good ones that appeal to a broader audience as well. This week is super busy for her at work, but she’ll be working on a list for you soon. You may enjoy listening to our friends Dan and Vanessa Hayes on their podcast, Simple Life Together. Another one of my favorites is Generosity Philosophy, hosted by our friend Kim Trumbo. Please let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear us talk about on the podcast. Would you mind if we read your comment on the next episode we record? Also, if you’re on Facebook, we recently formed a FB group called The Peas and Carrots Society (http://www.facebook.com/groups/vegetarianzen). It is a closed group, meaning that only group members can see the posts, and new members must request to join. We set it up this way to create a safe, non-threatening, non-judgmental environment for members to talk and share with each other. It is so wonderful to see Veg Zen listeners interacting with each other!

      Thanks again, Marianne! Please do keep in touch.

      Peace & Veggies,

  3. Hi Larissa! My family and I ADORE tofu! Especially my crisped tofu lightly coated in corn starch and pan fried in coconut oil recipe 🙂 . However, would you two mind touching on the risk of high levels of estrogen when consuming this soy product? I have always heard this but could never really find out how much is too much for us ladies when it comes to a potential harmful spike in our estrogen levels which can contribute to cancer. Please advise, and thanks!!!

    • Hi AC,

      Waaaaay back in episode 008 we talked a bit about the tofu-estrogen thing, but I don’t think we went into a whole lot of detail. I’m thinking maybe this calls for a more in-depth episode about this topic! As you probably know, you can ask a question like this one to 10 different scientists or “experts” and get 10 different answers. I think, as with anything, moderation is key when it comes to tofu. Soybeans have many obvious benefits so I don’t think you need to avoid them entirely, but it would be a good idea to balance them with other vegetarian protein options, such as other beans, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. I know this isn’t a really specific answer, but hope it helps some!

      Peace & Veggies,