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Thinking About Becoming A Vegetarian?

By Jasmine Deloatch
Assistant Editor
New Journal and Guide

Patricia Louis gave us a look into her life as a vegetarian and the many benefits that come along with it. Patricia tells us how the climate is perfect for vegetarianism with the things going on today with the meat industry and shortages.

  “I raised my children vegetarian and I host parties where their friends can try vegetarian foods as well. Forty-five years ago, when I was 19-years-old, I was in college and was a science major. I learned how long it takes for meat to digest in your body. It can take up to two days for meat to process in your body, It begins decaying and putrefying in the digestive system and that was a turning point for me,” she said.

Sometimes the vegetarian journey can be a spiritual one. Patricia said her husband changed his diet for spiritual reasons. Some people, she said, change their diets for environmental reasons, noting that “factory- farmed animals can have unhealthy diets and their waste can pollute the earth.”

  “When I first changed our diets, we didn’t have the options that we have now. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It was a transition. When we first started out, we cut out pork. That was the first immediate thing that we did. Shortly after that, we cut out beef. Ten years after that we cut out chicken. And finally, we were vegetarian. Within the last 10 years my husband decided to just go vegan. I’m home taught. I have been teaching myself through reading, collecting recipes and trial and error. Some things I grow and some that are not in season, I get from the grocery store.”

  There’s many different types of being vegetarians. Some vegetarians eat no meat or dairy and others allow themselves more options.

“Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, but will eat honey, eggs, and dairy,” she explained.

“Then, you have flexitarians. They are flexible. They may only eat certain meats or limit how often they eat certain meats. Then, you have pescatarians. They are vegetarians who also eat fish, eggs, and dairy. A lacto-vegetarian does not eat eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and fish but will eat dairy. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs and egg products, but do not eat dairy or other animal products like seafood, fish, poultry, and meat.”

And then, there are the vegans, she said. They do not eat any animal products at all, including eggs, dairy or even honey. Among them are the raw vegans who eat only raw foods. If they cook them, they do not cook them with a lot of heat.

So what’s the overall benefit for eating a vegetarian diet?  According to Patricia, it’s about being healthy because vegetarian diets can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

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  Patricia said that she and her husband often surprise the doctors. They are both 60 plus years of age and own no medicine which alarms many medical professionals. She said that she credits their vegetarian diet for their good health. She shares that she is still transitioning and working to cut back on sugar and carbs.

Patricia is also quite the cook. She has discovered several recipes that mimic that of animal products in vegan form.

“I pride myself in being able to take a traditional recipe and veganize it! If I need eggs, I use applesauce! If it calls for butter or margarine, I use soy products! There are a lot of substitutions that you can use in your cooking. They have soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk and oat milk.”

She said she has become a tofu expert in her cooking.

“I can cook tofu any kind of way. It is all in the seasoning. You can make it taste like fish and you can make it taste like chicken.”

Sometimes people wonder about good sources of protein in a vegetarian diet. Patricia said legumes like lentils and chickpeas are good protein sources. “You can take chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and use them whole in a salad. I smash them, add what you would add to chicken or tuna salad, and it is quite tasty on a sandwich! You can use the liquid off the chickpeas, referred to as aquafaba, and whip it up into the meringue of a lemon pie!”

Almost any bean and green peas can give you protein, including lima beans, pinto beans, and edamame, Other protein sources are  chia seeds, quinoa, oats, almonds, pistachios, brussel sprouts, yellow corn, avocado and broccoli.

Patricia supplements her vegetarian diet with a multivitamin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 and Omega3 to make sure that “I’m still getting the vitamins that I need.”

As you might expect, Patricia loves cooking and sharing different recipes with people. She has been a staple in her community cooking for those around her and sharing her love for plant-based foods.

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