Recipes Home Page
Eastern Religion Motivated Some to
Give Up Meat
Mad Cow Disease scare at the end of the 20th Century, one of the first vegetarian
cookbooks published in the United States noted that concerns about the safety of beef were pushing many discriminating gourmands to give up
meat. "Cattle are becoming so diseased that apart from a human revulsion
against the consumption of meats in daily food, man is driven for his own welfare to seek
purer food substance," the book's introduction asserted.
However, the book, published by the Theosophical Society in 1897, went on to claim that
choosing the right foods can do more than keep you from getting sick. The right diet
can help you get to heaven.
As Theosophical theory told it, clean habits in life will purify the "astral
body." As a result, when that spirit medium is liberated from the flesh vessel of the
body at the time of death, it will be less dense and will rise to the highest "astral
plane," passing on to "the sunlit meadows of that world and away from its
So what are the foods that will get you to heaven? Certainly not salt, which is a
poison, though most people will have to slowly wean themselves from it. Boiled foods are
also bad. Theosophical theory calls for steaming instead. As for alcohol, it "has a
most pernicious effect on the astral body." But nothing bogs down the astral body
quite like meat.
The book takes pains to prove that, once all the forbidden items are
excluded, there are still plenty of options left. Practical Vegetarian Cookery is
stuffed with hundreds of recipes in 37 categories, ranging from soups and mushrooms to
icings and invalid cookery (a category that includes recipes for such things as rice foam,
creamed gruel and arrowroot).
There is something for everyone in the book, which features
items ranging from coconut drops and stuffed dates to succotash, mushroom pie and stuffed
cucumbers, from Chinese rice, asparagus pie and grilled mushrooms, to choc-o-pop and
Here are four recipes from the book:
An English Monkey
Soak one cupful of bread crumbs in one cupful of milk about 10 or 15
minutes. Melt one tablespoon of butter, add one cupful of cheese broken into small pieces;
Stir until melted, add the crumbs and one beaten egg, one half teaspoon of salt, a few
grains of bicarbonate of soda as large as a pea. Cook for five minutes. Serve on wafers.
Sweet Potato Croquettes
Boil, peel and mash six large sweet potatoes; season with salt, a
tablespoon of butter, one of sugar and a little pepper. When cold, mold into croquettes,
dip into beaten egg, then into finely rolled bread crumbs, and fry brown in hot fat.
Aunt Susans Salad Dressing
Beat together one level teaspoonful of mustard, one heaping teaspoon
of sugar, one dessertspoonful of melted butter, one half teaspoon of salt and the yolk of
one egg; add one cupful of milk and cook in double boiler until it thickens; stirring all
the while. When thick add lemon juice or vinegar to taste. This dressing can be kept any
length of time by bottling, not necessary to seal.
Heat one half cupful of vinegar and one half cupful of sugar. When
very hot add one half cupful of sour cream into which the yolks of two eggs have been
beaten. Stir well, remove from the fire and then chill before using. Very nice on cabbage