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The Essential Vegetarian

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

Like Dan Katz, of State of the Airwaves, I too celebrated a birthday in the last week. Mine however was not of a column, but of myself. I would like to thanks Dan for his kind birthday gift -- a slab of beef. Wrapped in a copy of his most recent column, and presented to me as I worked in the 24-hour coffeehouse, it rendered me speechless. I sat there poking the red flesh through the shrink wrap and eventually stashed it in the fridge so that ideally the animal did not perish in vain.

I generally associate my birthday with the start of spring. Which makes it an opportune time to consider vegetarianism for anyone who is considering it. Vegetarianism is a sort of “spring cleaning” of the body. Toxins such as pesticides, environmental pollutants, and preservatives become concentrated in flesh, both human and animal. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of pesticide residue in the human omnivore diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products.

Women who eat meat are more exposed to concentrated chemicals which are not present in such high doses in plants. (Additionally, much of the pollutants present on plants are easily washed off.) These chemicals can become concentrated in breast milk and be passed on to newborns.

Vegetables are not only not bad, they are good. The phytochemicals present in vegetables (especially soy, as discussed in last week’s column) are responsible for detoxifying the body as well. Vegetable foods are lower in saturated fat (generally) than meat products and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.

One of the fringe benefits of vegetarianism is the cut is costs. To get the same number of calories, nutrients, and protein in vegetable products as meat costs about $4,000 less per year. This savings can allow for more flexibility in the rest of one’s life -- a spring cleaning of the soul.

Finally, vegetarianism is good for the environment. Cleaner air, water and soil will result from reduced meat production.

All these issues have been discussed previously in this column, and I can expand on any of them if you let me know which areas you want to hear more about. Simply e-mail me at ,> with any suggestions, questions, or comments.

This week’s recipe is for one of my favorite cakes, Strawberry Shortcake. Enjoy!

Strawberry Shortcake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

3 pints fresh strawberries

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups whipped cream

Slice the strawberries and marinate them in the 1/2 cup of white sugar.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease and flour one eight inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt. With a pastry blender cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. Place of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream.