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Channel your inner vegetarian on Meatout Day

With its hamburgers and chicken wings Bermy Cuisine has more of a reputation for home cooking than health food, but next Friday residents will be able to go there to pick up a healthy vegan meal.

Nutritionist Ashley Tucker, daughter of Bermy Cuisine owner Horace Tucker, has arranged a meatless menu in celebration of Meatout Day on March 20. The menu has been organised in collaboration with the Vegetarian Society of Bermuda. Meatout Day is recognised around the world as the day when vegetarians try to encourage meat eaters to give up meat, if only for a day.

The menu will include a range of options mushroom burgers, fried vegetables, meatless barbecue balls, carrot slaw, broccoli salad and date oatmeal cookies.

Miss Tucker recommends interested persons call ahead to order.

“I classify myself as a pescatarian,” she said, explaining the term as someone who abstains from meat but will eat fish. “I eat fish from time to time. I have been eating more raw food in the past few months.”

Miss Tucker has loved to cook since she was a small child. She was ten years old when she realised she wanted to take her interest in cooking to the next level, and eventually become a professional chef.

“I started reading books about food and watching programmes on the Food Network,” she said. “I majored in culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Then, when I was getting ready to graduate with my associates in culinary arts I was going to get a bachelor's degree in restaurant management, but there was something that wasn’t sitting right with me. I wanted to understand more about food.”

She transferred to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and majored in culinary nutrition.

“That is where a lot of it began my understanding of food in depth, looking at food science and what happens when someone swallows food,” she said. “Before I went to college I was vegetarian for about a year. Then when I went to college I wanted to experience everything and taste everything. I started eating meat again. Now that I am back in Bermuda, it has been about a year-and-a-half now that I have been cutting back on meat.

“I have noticed health differences. I was cooking some oxtails for someone recently I really enjoy oxtails, or I used to. I tried one piece and the next morning I woke up and felt so ill, nauseous and unwell. I didn’t like that feeling at all. I realise when I eat more raw food I have a higher energy level and I enjoy that.”

Miss Tucker said food doesn’t have to have a lot of salt, fat or additives to taste good. Nor does healthy food have to taste like cardboard, as some people imagine.

“I am not trying to force anyone to become vegetarian,” she said. “This is just an offering. It is a great introduction for people who may have a taboo for vegetarian cuisine. They can get to see how appealing it can be. That is the whole idea. I am just hoping that people decide to come by and try things out.”

She said there is a lot of research that shows the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, and also the benefits of eating them raw.

Raw vegetables are thought to be a great source of vitamins A, C and E, a well as B-complex vitamins, potassium and calcium. Cooking vegetables at high temperatures can significantly reduce their content of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.

“I am not here to push a lifestyle on anyone,” Miss Tucker said. “I am here to support and share the knowledge. If people want to learn how to cook or prepare vegetarian meals, I am interested in sharing my knowledge.”

For more information e-mail vsbda1[AT]yahoo.com or visit www.meatout.org.

Miss Tucker may be reached on 332.1611, ashley[AT]ashtucker.com or www.ashtucker.com. The vegetarian takeout is $18 and can be picked up on March 16 from Bermy Cuisine on Serpentine Road from 5 to 7pm.

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For the Royal Gazette: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20120309/ISLAND/703099994/-1