All the trimmings -- but no turkey Vegetarians spare the bird, save their health CARROLL COUNTY HEALTH

November 24, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

It's Thanksgiving Day, and the kitchen of Bob and Patricia Evans' Hampstead home is filled with the tantalizing odor of stuffed -- squash.

Thanksgiving has still been Thanksgiving since Mr. and Mrs. Evans became vegetarians three years ago. The table is still filled with mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes, string beans and rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. But no turkey.

"I try to get as close to [traditional] Thanksgiving as possible, because I feel food is emotional as well as physical," Mrs. Evans said.

She stuffs the squash the same way she would once have stuffed a turkey, laces it and bakes it in the oven and, yes, serves it with gravy.

The gravy was a challenge, Mrs. Evans said. How do you make flavorful gravy without turkey drippings or giblets?

The answer she found was to brown whole-grain flour to bring out the nutty flavor before adding it to vegetable stock and stirring in sauteed garlic, onions, celery and mushrooms.

Vegetarianism is a health issue rather than a political statement for Mr. and Mrs. Evans.

He still eats dairy products; she gave them up because of allergies.

When she is served a dairy product in a restaurant dish, she said, she wakes up in the night with the nasal congestion and runny nose familiar to hay fever sufferers.

The couple's 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter remain meat eaters. The family will not be eating Thanksgiving dinner at home this year, but Mrs. Evans plans to roast a turkey for the teen-agers for the next holiday meal.

They missed the turkey "and we just missed the smells," Mrs. Evans said. "I feel like I'm nurtured just with the smells."

Mrs. Evans' change to a vegetable diet began in the local public library. She was just browsing when she came on a book that she had to read -- "I've always believed that books fall into your lap not coincidentally," she explained.

She can't remember the title, but the author was a meat eater who had stumbled into a vegetarian convention and came away with new eating habits and the conviction that a vegetarian diet is healthier.

Ziona Swigart, circulation manager of the Vegetarian Resource Group in Baltimore and an experienced vegetarian, noted that meats lack fiber and contain saturated fats high in cholesterol.

"In my case, it was, 'How do I eat a whole lot and not gain a lot of weight?' " Mrs. Evans said.

She hadn't had a weight problem, but with middle age looming, she knew her metabolism would slow down and she still liked to eat heartily.

She finished the book and switched to a vegetarian lifestyle immediately. She was surprised when her husband gave up meat too, since he had read the book but hadn't said much about it.

On an ordinary evening, Mrs. Evans sometimes serves vegetarian dishes that all the family can eat, such as french fries, salad and bread or spaghetti. Sometimes she cooks separate meals, but that means a pile of dishes and, although she loves to cook, she's not excited by cleaning up.

"I try to sneak in vegetarian meals to my children," she said.

She bakes vegetables into breads because the children are not very big on straight vegetables. She used to put oatmeal into foods, but now when the teen-agers detect the oatmeal, the food goes uneaten.

Vegetarianism changes your taste buds, she said. Mrs. Evans was a white-bread child, but now white bread doesn't taste as good to her as whole wheat.

Growing up, she wouldn't have eaten unsweetened pumpkin, but now she likes it.

Mrs. Evans joined the Vegetarian Resource Group for recipes and tips on restaurants that offer vegetarian menus, but also for support. The change in her and her husband's eating preferences has created some strain in the family and among their friends, she said.

Mrs. Evans' mother saw the change as an affront to her cooking. Friends who invited the couple for dinner would promise to make a special dish and then, because of lack of familiarity with vegetarian cooking, would include a meat-based stock or some other ingredient she and her husband couldn't eat.

Her solution: "I got used to carrying my own food." Acceptance levels have gotten better as the years go by, and now it's more a friendly teasing, like, "We're coming over to your house and bringing a steak," she said.

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