by Philip Elliott & Laura M. Schneider
WASHINGTON – With Foot and Mouth disease worrying the nation,vegetarianism may become an alternative for those who want to steer clear of meat.
“We get most of our meat and pork from the U.S.,” said Lester Crawford,director of Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University. “If we're in danger of shortages,we probably will export less and keep it domestic.”
Even so,popularity of vegetarianism is on the rise,according to a 2000 Vegetarian Resource Group survey. The survey found about 6.9 million people consider themselves to be vegetarians,up from 2.7 million in 1997.
“It is the position of The American Dietetic Association (ADA) that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful,are nutritionally adequate,and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,” according to a 1997 report.
Beans,soy,tofu and liquid protein are adequate substitutes for protein in a vegetable-based diet,said Katherine Mulligan,senior dietitian at Ohio State University.
The 1997 ADA report also indicated vegetarians often have lower morbidity and mortality rates from several chronic degenerative diseases than do those who eat meat.
There can be health benefits even for those who do not want to defect,Mulligan said.
“Even if you don’t go totally vegetarian,I think it's important to take on some parts of a vegetarian diet,” she said.
Consumers should replace meat with beans,vegetables or soy a few times a week,Mulligan said.
But vegetarians may not harvest these benefits if their diet is full of high-cholesterol,high-saturated fat foods such as cheese or eggs,Mulligan said.
And veggie fans say nixing meat doesn’t have to lead to a dull diet.
“You can use soy as tofu in anyway you would use meat,” said Ausu-f Teba,manager of Washington Holistic Foods. “You can stimulate basic meat tastes.”
Soy can be manipulated to serve as beef,pork of chicken in almost any dish,Teba said.
“It tastes like chicken.”