The Gradual Vegetarian Thinking about becoming a vegetarian? Finding it hard to change a lifetime of eating meat?

Both People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) produce “Vegetarian Starter Kits” that are chock full of recipes and resources. But becoming a vegetarian today is not as hard as it once was. As PETA points out, “The explosion of vegetarian foods means that you can pop everything from bean tacos to veggie “sausage” into the microwave and finish the meal with frozen nondairy “ice cream.””

Lisa Tracy’s The Gradual Vegetarian (M. Evans and Company, 1985) offers 200 recipes and a three-stage transition that involves first giving up red meat, then chicken, then fish. The book is out of print, but used copies are available through Amazon.com. Another transitional book is Becoming Vegetarian: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet by Vesanto Melina, Brenda Davis and Victoria Harrison (Book Publishing Company, 1995). A companion volume, Becoming Vegan, by Melina and Davis, was published in 2000. The Vegetarian Way: Total Nutrition For You and Your Family (Crown, 1996) by Virginia Messina and Mark Messina explains health benefits and offers a nine-step plan to leaving meat behind. Parents with junk-food junkie children might want to try Munchie Madness: Vegetarian Meals for Teens by Dorothy R. Bates, Bobbie Hinman and Robert Oser (Book Publishing Company, 2001).

An excellent vegetarian cookbook with an international flair is Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (Clarkson, Potter, 1999). And vegetarian author Nava Atlas operates an invaluable resource website at www.vegkitchen.com. Finally, the Vegetarian Resource Group offers a full online catalog of vegetarian and vegan books.