Cindy McDaniel, member of the East Tennessee Vegetarian Society

most healthy

Q:  How did you become a vegetarian?

A:  I became a vegetarian in 1990 because of the abuses to the animals. I started reading a lot about it and realizing that that was one thing I could do and therefore reduce the amount of suffering. The very last time I ate meat was 1989, so it was my New Year's resolution for the new decade.


Q:  What should vegetarians eat to get their protein?

A:  Beans, whole grains, plenty of vegetables. We advocate eating a broad base of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Meat analogs are also an excellent source of protein, and more readily available at most any alternative grocery store.


Q:  What does the East Tennessee Vegetarian Society do?

A:  Once a month on the first Sunday, we have a cooking demonstration or a guest speaker, followed with a vegetarian potluck dinner. There's always a huge surprise; every month there's something there that I never would have thought to make. Our next potluck dinner will be on Sunday, May 1 and it's at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church. We've got EarthFest coming up, and recently, Meat Out was a big one for us. We have a huge vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner once a year.


Q:  What's one of your favorite dishes to make?

A:  One of my favorites is vegetarian hot tamales. I made them up myself. They're not the most healthy thing in the world, but you can still be a vegetarian and eat junk.


Q:  Have you noticed any health benefits since becoming a vegetarian?

A:  Yes. I did notice increased energy and I just felt better. I also had a deep sense of well being because I felt good about what I was doing.


Q:  What's the worst thing a vegetarian can do?

A:  Probably the worst thing a vegetarian could do—and I'm coming from a standpoint of being a vegetarian for the animals, not necessarily for the health benefits—I would think it would be to go the other way, to give up on it. The worst thing you can do is actively promote the consumption of meat, to know about it and turn a blind eye.


Q:  What do you tell your meat-eating friends?

A:  I try to take not such a heavy-handed approach. I'm aware that you can turn somebody off. I just say that even eating less meat, you'll start to see a little health benefit. It's a step in the right direction. Too many people take an all or nothing approach. You can do it a little bit at a time.

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