I have been a vegetarian for almost forty years. I am actually Lacto-ovovegetarian since I exclude meat, poultry, and fish but include dairy products and eggs. Most vegetarians in the US are lacto-ovovegetarians. The benefits of a vegetarian diet are obvious: the consumption of a diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, with the avoidance of meat and high-fat animal products, along with a regular exercise program is consistently associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less obesity and consequently less heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and mortality.
People are vegetarians for many reasons, including concern for personal health and the environment, economic and world hunger concerns, compassion for animals, belief in nonviolence, food preferences, or spiritual reasons. Many famous people throughout history have been vegetarians among them Albert Einstein who said “ Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Most people don’t know that vegetarian foods are a major source of nutrition for most people in the world; vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer than non-vegetarians; and Vegetarian diets can be simple and easy to prepare.
It is easy to be a vegetarian in Costa Rica since fruits and vegetables grow year-round. Every Saturday and Sunday there are outdoor farmer’s markets where retirees and others can buy a wide variety of local produce at very affordable prices. Supermarkets like Automercado, Walmart and Mas por Menos also have a large selection of fruits and vegetables from which to choose.
Although we don’t have large health food supermarkets like Whole Foods, there are a growing number of smaller health stores called Macrobioticas that stock a lot of products and supplements for vegetarians. Regular supermarkets also have several lines of health food products for vegetarians like the Bioland brand.
There are also over 70 vegetarian restaurants around Costa Rica. See this web site for a complete listing of restaurants serving vegetarian food: http://www.happycow.net/north_america/costa_rica/