^^^egetarian diners are an important and growing segment of the dining public. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that about 15 million people consider themselves vegetarians. Young people in particular embrace many forms of vegetarianism. In college dining rooms, the proportion of clients choosing vegetarian options may be as high as 40 percent. Clearly, food service cannot afford to ignore this segment.

It is important that cooks and chefs who want to please their customers know something about the needs of vegetarian diners. Beyond the financial benefits of serving foods that appeal to the widest range of customers, chefs find that there are other benefits as well. Vegetarians are often more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their dining choices because they have thought more about them. Accomplished cooks often say that meeting the challenge of cooking for knowledgeable diners is one of the most satisfying aspects of their jobs and that vegetarian menus give them new opportunities for creativity.

In addition to people who have a strong commitment to vegetarianism, many others eat meat on other occasions but choose vegetarian items simply because the choices are so appealing in a particular dining facility. Chefs who create satisfying, innovative choices for vegetarians often find that creating a good vegetarian menu selection is one of their best professional decisions.

After reading this chapter, you should be able to

1. Describe the main types of vegetarian diets.

2. Describe complementary proteins and describe how to include them in the diet.

3. List three nutrients other than proteins that non-vegetarians get mostly from animal products, and describe how vegetarians can include these nutrients in their diets.

4. Name and describe five food types derived from soybeans.

5. Explain why refined sugar may not be permitted in a vegan diet.

6. List seven guidelines for building a vegetarian menu.

Continue reading here: Understanding Vegetarian Diets

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