Wellness News 7-25
Saturday, January 3, 2009

By Vanessa Loy (BPRW)

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. More black Americans are discovering a variety that will actually add years to life in switching to a vegetarian diet. Instead of pork, ribs, fried foods, fast food and milkshakes, black consumers are choosing meat-flavored soy and tofu substitutes, uncooked vegetables and soy shakes with fruit. They realize that many of the health risks that disproportionately affect blacks, including hypertension, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, are strongly correlated with eating foods high in cholesterol, fat, salt and sugar. But they also realize that healthy eating doesn’t mean boring eating, or giving up the tastes of traditional “soul food”.

One way the black community has been introduced to vegetarianism is by black entertainers and public figures endorsing this lifestyle. Ebony magazine in July 2003 revealed that Dick Gregory, Angela Bassett, Erykah Badu, Prince, Russell Simmons and Traci Bingham, among others, have chosen to avoid meat. Rastafarian immigrants from the Caribbean, who avoid eating meat as part of their religion, have also made vegetarianism mainstream by running meat-free food stores and restaurants in black neighborhoods. Some patrons discover for the first time that cholesterol-free soy and tofu products can be cooked to taste the same as any kind of meat-based product, and can be a dairy substitute for the lactose-intolerant.

There are different levels of vegetarianism. The most extreme are vegans, who avoid eating any animal products, including those from eggs and milk. More flexible vegetarians, who allow for egg and dairy products, are known as ovolactovegetarians. Still, others who don’t define themselves as pure vegetarians will eat seafood and poultry but avoid the “red” meat of mammals, which is higher in saturated fat. People switching to a vegetarian or predominantly vegetarian diet can benefit by consulting a physician and reading nutrition books to learn how to maintain necessary nutrients in their diets.

So, the next time you feel hungry, consider the many choices that will help YOU to live good, feel good and enjoy foods that taste good!


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