Vegetarians gear up for celebration

By Amy Fredette

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lisa Simpson of Fox Television station's "The Simpsons" will become a vegetarian this season after she associates the sheep she visits at a zoo with the lamb chops on her dinner plate.

People become vegetarians for a number of reasons including ethics, environment and health, but the most important thing is to be nutritionally informed about the transition, said Dr. Lynne Smiley, a nutrition wellness coordinator at the UA Wellness Center.

"People who cut out all animal protein without replacing it with proper vegetable protein will be missing certain nutrients," Smiley said. "The more knowledgeable you become, you would be able to replace those nutrients."

Smiley said that there are no exclusive benefits of a vegetarian diet.

"There's nothing special about it," she said. "Eating well is eating well whether it's vegetarian or non-vegetarian."

Smiley added that if a person decides to pursue vegetarianism, it is beneficial to consult a nutritionist as well as read literature.

Tomorrow is World Vegetarian Day, an annual celebration started in 1977 by the New York-based North American Vegetarian Society, said Deb Mitchell, the treasurer and librarian for the Vegetarian Resource Group of Tucson.

The annual Oct. 1 event was started to build awareness about the benefits of vegetarianism.

The resource group is sponsoring a sold-out fund-raiser tomorrow at Soundings of the Planet, 3054 N. First Ave., to commemorate the holiday, featuring vegetarian foods prepared by local restaurants some of which vend meat dishes such as La Indita, El Adobe, Govinda's, Torks and Gallery of Foods.

Mitchell, a vegetarian for 22 years for primarily ethical reasons, was in charge of preparing the fund-raiser.

"It's an opportunity to get the two factions face-to-face," Mitchell said.

Mitchell explained that the event will provide an open forum for communication between customers and restauranteurs. In essence, it will encourage vegetarians to voice their opinions and suggestions concerning the addition of meatless meals in meat-heavy eateries.

The University of Arizona Food Service is trying to be more accommodating to vegetarians, said Kathleen Noble, food production manager.

Suggestions solicited through the Student Union's Comment Box has prompted the changes.

In about three weeks, the Fiddlee Fig will be adding fresh vegetables, instead of frozen, to its menu as well as rice, potatoes and sauces, so that people can "build their own plates," Noble said.

Noble said the Fiddlee Fig offers one vegetarian entree daily as well as a soup free of animal derivatives.

"Two years ago, we took every single soup and went out and bought vegetarian bases to make sure that we had truly vegetarian soup," Noble said.

Other restaurants like Louie's Lower Level and Sidewalk Deli offer additional alternatives such as marinara sauce, salads, vegetarian sandwiches and vegetable crisps, Noble said.

For those who were not able to attend the fund-raiser, but want to explore the option of vegetarianism, the resource group holds meetings on the second Sunday of each month.

The next meeting is Oct. 8 at Northwest Center, 2160 N. Sixth Ave. Guests are asked to bring a vegetarian dish.

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