The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas


The New Vegetarian Epicure

The following is excerpted from the Introduction from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas published in 1972.   Since then there have been a couple of editions with The New Vegetarian Epicure being the most recent.

Good Food is the celebration of life and it seems absurd to me that in celebrating life we should take life. That is why I don’t eat flesh.  I see no need for killing.

There are increasing numbers who, like myself, are for one reason or another rejecting meat, fish, and fowl and turning to a vegetarian diet. We certainly don’t have to kill to nourish our bodies.  All the proteins, vitamins and minerals that we require in order to live and to be healthy are easily available in the endless variety of plant life, and in those gifts animals give us painlessly, such as milk and eggs.

Many of us today turn to vegetarianism through enlightened self-interest.  Among its advantages is the primacy of plants in the food chain.  Plants are eaten by animals, certain of which are eaten by other animals, and so forth.  The closer we stay to the beginning of the food chain, the more food there is to support the burgeoning population of this earth.

People have approached me, puzzled, and ask how vegetarians eat.  Their puzzlement is genuine.  They try to imagine their own meals without meat and shudder.  But when I imagine their meals I shudder too, because the standard American diet is so appalling in its lack of imagination.  Even in finer cooking,  the variety is largely limited to the preparation of the main course, almost without exception meat or fish.  The menu is thus rigidly standardized.  There is one important item: the entree and in a very secondary place, really playing the role of uninspired accompaniment to the meat are such things as the salad, vegetables, and bread.  The standard menu is served with but little change day after day, week after week, the “square” meal certainly is.

Vegetarian cookery is a rich and varied cuisine, full of marvelous dishes with definite characteristics not in imitation of anything else- certainly not in imitation of meat.  The vegetarian menu lends itself to many structures. It is not the slave of the “main course”, even as it does not avoid that arrangement when it seems fitting and useful. But it can consist of several equally important courses or several dishes served at once.  I think the only rules about arranging meals which need to be taken seriously are the rudimentary ones of pleasing the palate and maintaining good health.  many people seem worried about providing sufficient protein in a vegetarian diet; I haven’t found it difficult.  Any dish consisting  of eggs, milk, cheese, or other milk products is high in protein.  Lentils, soybean and wheat germ are three of the most concentrated protein foods known to us, bar none.  Peas, almost all beans, and whole grains are also extremely good protein sources.  Buckwheat groats are phenomenal! Nearly all nuts are rich in protein, as are many seeds.

In fact, it is the possibility of endless variety that helps create a whole new style of eating–a new set of the non -conventionional.  In the section on menus, I suggest a few of the many combinations and arrangements possible with just the recipes in this book.  I hope it serves as a starting point, leading quickly to even better ideas of your own with which to titillate your appetite.

I love to eat well, and I find there is a special added joy for the vegetarian epicure: the satisfaction of feeling a peaceful unity with all life.

The New Vegetarian Epicure


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