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Care and Feeding
of the Vegetarian Teen
by The American Institute for
When Lisa, Bart's sister on
The Simpsons, became a vegetarian, it should have been a clue.
Trends are often reflected in television sitcoms, and teen vegetarianism
is definitely a trend. Recent surveys show close to 40 percent
of teens identify themselves as vegetarians.
For many reasons - health,
religion, ethics, weight, fashion, environment - teenagers have
given up Big Macs for veggie burgers.
There are vegetarian rock bands
and vegetarian movie stars. And, for the record, Socrates, Leonardo
da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein
and Clara Barton were all vegetarians.
The trend is apparent at the
supermarket. Until a few years ago, vegetarian foods were only
available in health food stores. Now major supermarket chains
carry vegetarian entrées and soymilk.
According to the American Institute
for Cancer Research, a predominantly plant-based diet that includes
a small amount of animal protein can help prevent chronic disease.
But, for those who prefer to eliminate animal products, all the
necessary nutrients for health are available in a well-balanced
and varied vegetarian diet.
The key phrase is "well-balanced
and varied." Parents' main concerns with vegetarianism are
the nutritional and protein needs of their children. A diet with
plenty of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, whole-grain foods,
nuts, seeds and legumes will meet those needs. Some vegetarians
will eat dairy products and eggs. Other good sources of protein
for vegetarians are beans, breads, cereals, nuts, peanut butter,
tofu and soymilk.
The following recipe produces
a burger-like patty filled with nutrition - and taste.
Black-Bean Burgers - Makes 4 servings.
Heavily coat a medium skillet
with cooking oil spray. Heat over medium-high heat until hot.
Add scallions, red pepper and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low
and sauté until very soft, about 5 minutes. Do not let
Remove from heat and mix in
beans and rice. Transfer to blender or food processor and process
until mixture is coarsely chopped. Be careful not to over-process.
Transfer mixture to medium
bowl. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce, cumin, salt and
pepper. Add egg white and mix in lightly with fork until just
blended. Mix in breadcrumbs with fork until lightly blended.
Form mixture into eight patties. (Patties will hold their shape
better if refrigerated, covered, at least 30 minutes.)
When ready to sauté
patties, lightly coat skillet with cooking oil spray and heat
over medium-high heat until hot. Add patties and sauté
on both sides until nicely browned - about 4 minutes per side.
Serve plain or with lettuce
and tomato on whole-grain buns.
Per serving: 222 calories,
2 g. fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 39 g. carbohydrate,
10 g. protein, 9 g. dietary fiber, 365 mg. sodium.
a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114) Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. ET. This free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian
questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR is the only
major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between
diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides a wide range of education
programs that help millions of Americans learn to make changes
for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research
in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals
and research centers across the U.S. It has provided more than
$60 million in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer.
AICR 's Web address is www.aicr.org.