“The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian” by Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RD


That sound you heard a few minutes ago? That’s your stomach, rumbling.

Yep, you’re hungry. Ready for chow. Wanting something salty, sweet, crunchy (sound good?) smooth, chewy, tasty. For sure, you know what you don’t want—but you’re not sure if your parents will play along. So read “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian” by Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RD, and find out how you can fill your plate with nutrition that fills you up.

Okay. You’ve decided that you don’t want to eat meat anymore. You’ve undoubtedly got your reasons; for Warren, it was because she couldn’t stop thinking about where meat comes from.

Whatever your convictions for going vegetarian, you want to know how to do it right but giving up meat doesn’t mean, um, going cold turkey. You can be “veg-curious,” just dipping your toe into the lifestyle. You can be a “Red Head” who wants to start eating more veggies and less meat; a “Pescetarian” who eats fish, a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs, or a vegan who avoids all animal products. You could also be an “ethical carnivore.” The thing to remember is that you’re allowed to change your mind. Daily, if you want.

You’ve probably already figured out that your new mealtime habits will be questioned. Your parents might worry about how you’ll get proper nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. Your friends might think it’s weird. You’ll have to explain to your grandma a hundred times why you can’t eat her famous chili again.

But that’s where this book helps: protein (probably the number-one topic of concern), minerals, and vitamins are already in vegetables; you just have to know the right combinations. You’ll also need to know how to read nutrition labels, because meat products often sneak into other foods. And to prove that vegetarianism isn’t weird or to show that yummy chili doesn’t require meat, why not try some mouth-watering, crowd-pleasing vegetarian recipes? Some of them are found at the end of this book.

Above all, Warren says, stick with your ideals but “be polite.” Know what you’re eating, know where it comes from, and do your research. And be proud of what you’re doing. It’s good for the environment—and good for you!

Looking for a basic intro to eliminating meat from your diet? You’ll find it in “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian,” but there’s a lot of repetition to slog through to get it.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like this book—because I did. It’s got humor, nutritional information, tips, and encouragement inside it, as well as argument-busters and a good section on eating disorders. It’s also got a huge section of recipes but the nitty-gritty of this book, the solid info, is too brief— especially when you consider the reiteration.

Still, if it’s basic you want, basic is what your 11-to-16-year-old reader will get here. If she wants to make a change, “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian” is a book she might be hungry for.