Vegetarian shares the virtues of vegetables

October 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

Mom was right about eating your vegetables. Studies have shown that a low-calorie, high-nutrition diet of vegetables can stave off cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers, said Brian Higginson, a registered dietician at Swedish Medical Center.

Gail Givan, of Issaquah, shops for vegetables at Front Street Market. Givan is the organizer of a meet-up group of vegetarians in Issaquah. October is vegetarian awareness month.  By Jim Feehan

Gail Givan, of Issaquah, shops for vegetables at Front Street Market. Givan is the organizer of a meet-up group of vegetarians in Issaquah. October is vegetarian awareness month. By Jim Feehan

“A diet of vegetables and fruits is lower in saturated fats,” he said. “Saturated fats can be found in fatty meat, cheese, butter and ice cream.”

A diet high in saturated fats increases the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, such as blocking of the arteries. A high meat diet also increases a person’s chances of developing colon, prostate and breast cancer, he said.

“I always try to encourage people to have a small serving of fruit or vegetable with every meal,” he said.

Scientists have found that one of the chemicals in broccoli may also help treat breast cancer.  Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have shown that the chemical indole-3-carbinol, a component of broccoli, halts the growth of breast cancer cells, an attribute that may make it a good cancer therapy in combination with other drugs.

Gail Givan, of Issaquah, has been a vegetarian for nearly three decades.

Her epiphany came when was she was cooking chicken in a microwave. When she removed the chicken, the kitchen was filled with an unpleasant smell.

“The stench was overwhelming,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m never going to eat meat again,’ and I’ve never gone back.”

Health and environmental aspects also weigh heavily in her decision to go meatless.

“I’m also supporting the environment by not eating meat,” she said. “Cattle contaminate the water and give off methane, which contributes to our ozone problem.”

Vegetarianism is the practice of a diet that excludes meat, fish and poultry. A vegan diet is a form of vegetarianism, which excludes all animal products from the diet, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey.

Givan considers herself an almost vegan.

“If a muffin has an egg in it, that’s not going to stop me from eating it,” she said.

A vegetarian diet is good for weight control and Givan said she’s rarely sick.

“A vegetarian diet provides all of the essential vitamins and minerals as a meat-and-potato diet,” she said. “Besides, you’re eating lower on the food chain, so you avoid pesticide buildup in your body.”

Properly planned vegetarian diets satisfy nutritional needs, including an ample supply of protein, Givan said.

“Tofu, beans, legumes and nuts all have a lot of protein, so that’s not an issue,” she said.

Givan, an administrative assistant at C.A. Carey Construction Co., said she often finds herself dispelling misconceptions about vegetarianism.

“A lot of people think it’s weird or strange,” she said. “Vegetarianism is not really that different. It’s just the meat isn’t there.”

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6292, ext 239, of

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One Response to “Vegetarian shares the virtues of vegetables”

  1. Mya on October 8th, 2008 5:34 pm

    A diet high in saturated fats, as you’ve written, is extremely dangerous to your health. I actually work for a campaign called Meatless Monday where we advocate going meat free one day a week which lowers your saturated fat intake by 15%! This reduction will lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke, four of the leading causes of death in the U.S. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or even call yourself one – making this small adjustment to your diet will be greatly beneficial to your health as well as the environment. If you’re looking for more information be sure to visit

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