You've waved good-bye to your last bacon double cheeseburger. You bid farewell to salmon steak and said adieu to chicken cordon bleu. From this day forth, you're going veg. Whether you're motivated by health concerns, the environment or animal welfare, your decision was a good one. And you're in good company. It's estimated that upwards of 12.5 million people in the United States now consider themselves vegetarian. But being vegetarian is more than just throwing some veggie kabobs on the grill. So, if you're perplexed about how to answer your mother's incessant queries about your protein and calcium intake, how you'll meet fellow vegetarians and, more important, what you'll make for dinner tonight, relax. You'll find everything you need on the Internet and World Wide Web to make your transition easy (and delicious). Just point, click and go.
GET YOUR FEET WET
We'd be utterly remiss if we didn't direct you to Vegetarian Times' online outpost, The Virtual Vegetarian (www.vegetariantimes.com), where we've assembled a comprehensive set of links for cooking, networking and shopping to help get you going.
You'll also want to pop over to New Veg (www.newveg.av.org), a virtual Ellis Island for arriving vegetarians that serves up news, products and chat, guaranteed to ease you into your new lifestyle. There you'll find plenty of transitioning tips, including "How to be a Vegetarian in 10 Easy Steps." Or, search for the vegetarian of your dreams through a link to VegMates (www.o2 bar.com/guestbook3).
If you need facts and figures to answer the inevitable questions you'll get about why you made the leap, check out Pamela Teisler-Rice's "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" (www.earthbase.org/vivavegie/vv 1 Ol/in dex.html). Her treatise is an encyclopedia of veggie literature, lore and statistics collected from such institutions as the National Cancer Society and Scientific American magazine.
The very popular Vegetarian Pages (www.veg.org/veg) is a lightening-fast gateway to all things green on the Web. There you'll find the FAQsfrequently asked questions-(www. veg.org/veg/FAQ/rec.food.veg.html), such as "What's tofu?" "Are there vegetarian marshmallows?" and "How do you get enough protein?" And you'll also find the indispensable "World Guide to Vegetarianism," a colossal road map to veggie restaurants and resources, organized by country, state and city. There's no search engine, so bookmark these pages, or you'll spend most of your time lost in cyberspace.
The Vegetarian Resource Group (www.vrg.org) is another good online hang out. Sign up for a free e-mail newsletter, read past issues of Vegetarian Journal or speak out at one of the popular bulletin boards.
WEBster Vegetarian Resources (www.katsden.com/webster/veg.html) is a links-only site that gets you quickly through veggie cyberspace. Minireviews and orange carrots flag the notto-be-missed sites. Vegetarian Central, another down-and-dirty links-only site (www.vegetariancentral.org), borrows a few tricks from the famous Yahoo search engine: It features "What's New" and "Top Picks" pages, where visitors can keep track of cool sites of the day.
Looking for fresh menu ideas? Fatfree: The Low-Fat Vegetarian Archives (www.fatfree.com) lets you search by ingredient or vegetarian categoryovo, lacto, vegan or nearly vegan-to make more than 2,500 mouthwatering recipes. A nifty interactive meal planner helps you map out weekly menus from a database of 2,700 savory dishes at Veggies Unite (www.vegweb.com). Find your favorites, get an instant nutritional analysis and post the ingredients to a printable shopping list. Avoid extra mouse work by …