Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescetarian, Pollotarian, what does it all mean?It seems like food is a hot topic of conversation, no matter where you are nowadays; especially with the popularity of shows like Top Chef and Rocco’s Dinner Party. People are really starting to take an in-depth look at what they eat, this is a good thing! I am also in the process of trying to understand what it all means and pleasantly surprised as to what I am learning.

What peaked my curiosity was I started noticing a steady climb of people choosing a restricted culinary diet. They all call themselves by different names, but are all in unison on a few topics. They believe in a cruelty-free world and choose a lifestyle which eliminates animal products. According to Squidoo.com, Vegetarians do not eat meat, Vegans, completely eliminate all animal products; including eggs, milk, honey, fur, wool, leather and down. Pollotarians are vegetarians who also eat poultry/fowl and Pescetarians are vegetarians who also eat fish. These lifestyle choices have healthy benefits for our well-being. Many studies have shown vegetarians and vegans seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary/heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

In the past, these names were associated with very limited diet, cardboard/dry tasting, bland, fake and/or having an after taste, but, it’s quite the contrary today! It is not boring or bland, actually tasty. And the ability to imitate textures, tastes, smells and making the appearance appealing are all clever. The food is REAL and nutritious, no chemicals, bad by-products or cloning involved.

However, there are some pitfalls to a restricted diet, not getting enough protein, food allergies to nuts, gluten and other proteins; medical conditions like Hemochromatos (too much iron); medicine interactions with Vitamins (Coumadin and Vitamin K) and, lastly to camouflage a food disorder, like anorexia.

So how do vegetarians/vegans get their protein? – There are plenty of ways, some include: rice and beans, peanut butter, almond, soy or other nut milks, gluten and Tofu. Tofu, which is the chameleon of food takes on any flavor it comes in contact with and comes in many textures from soft to hard, to please every palate. You can even coat and fry for crispy tofu! Good Soy Cheeses seem to be the hardest to find. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

This is one of my all time favorite summertime recipes. It crosses all barriers, great for Vegans/Vegetarians and a wonderful accompaniment to grilled fish and meat for Pescetarian/Pollotarians and Carnivores alike! – Buon Appetito! Click here for Chef Jacquie’s Refreshing Black Bean and Corn Relish.

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