GURUS to grunge, pot to protein, bellbottoms to beancurd, America has seen it all. Now, the non-meat, 'ayurvedic' eating wave is sweeping Yankland.Soyabean, alfalfa sprouts and 100-bucks-a-session karma are here to stay. Never mind the new McDonald Arch Deluxe burger.
Bestselling new-age gurus like Dr Deepak Chopra, who tout a combination of modern medicine and Eastern philosophy, puts the seal of scientific authority on anything unknown: in this case, alternative foodstyles—vegan, lacto or ayurvedic. Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons held the first medical conference on ayurveda last year. Maharishi Ayurvedic Food Products International claims requests for its foods grew from 30,000 in 1990 to 200,000 in '95. Dr Veronica Butler, MD, of the Maharishi Ayurved Health Center, Iowa, has devised a fresh plant-and-herb plan. Ayurvedically approved.
Recipe books for vegetarian food abound in the US: The Healing Cuisine by Harish Johari, Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar, A Woman's Best Medicine by Butler, Lonsdorf and Brown. There's more. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals carries out a relentless campaign to spread vegetarianism. Its journal has recipes ranging from walnut curry salad sandwich to black bean tortilla twists and gelatine-free desserts. Veg eating-out options abound, specially in New York. There is Mary-Ann's, which serves low fat Mexican food with no MSG and has four Manhattan branches. The Great American Health Bar offers kosher cuisine a la chickpea-only style. Zenith at midtown promises Asian "food that will forever change the way you think about vegetarian food". VP3 serves Chinese vegetarian nosh.
Sure, there are non-veg dissenters. Recent studies showed a coincidence in the rise of breast and other cancers among immigrants who undergo drastic changes to their lifestyles. Significantly—in their food habits too. One speculative corollary this gives rise to, is that North Americans, through such dramatic changes to age-old eating habits, may well be exposing themselves to a similar risk. So, if today tofu burgers reign supreme, tomorrow prime sirloin may be the last word in health.
As with all else in the US, with its unparalleled history of scientific research and faddish trends, one simply never knows.