This section is from the book "Economical Cookery", by Marion Harris Neil. Also available from Amazon: Economical Cookery (1918).
"Give us a taste of your quality."
Before making vegetarian dishes it is necessary to know something about the kinds of food required by the body, and whether the vegetable dishes we are going to substitute for meat will supply these needs. The body, to be kept in health, requires food containing the following elements:
1. Proteids, or flesh-forming substances, which build up the body and repair waste in the tissues. Too little of these in the food causes debility and wasting; and excess gives rise to rheumatism, gout, and kidney trouble.
2. Carbohydrates (starches and sugars), the energy producers, giving capacity for work to the muscles and organs. Too little causes a condition in which the proteids or flesh formers are diverted from their work of repairing waste in order to supply energy, and wasting results. Too much of these foodstuffs causes clogging of the body and the formation of adipose tissue.
3. Fats, which give heat. A sufficient quantity is very necessary, but an excess causes dyspepsia and biliousness.
4. Salts and vegetable acids, which purify the blood. Too little causes irritation, "heated" blood, and various skin diseases.
5. Water, a very necessary element essential to form the medium in which all the other foodstuffs are dissolved and made able to be absorbed; to keep the tissues moist, the saliva flowing, and the other glands and excretions in working order. All food contains a certain amount of water, in various proportions according to its character, but plain water to drink is necessary as well.
Vegetables contain these principles of food necessary for the body, but on a purely vegetable diet it is a difficult matter to get them in the right proportions, as usually there is an excess of the sugars and starches.
When such animal foods as milk, butter, cheese, and eggs are permitted, a perfectly balanced diet can be planned, and these foods are used by all but the strictest vegetarians, because they are not flesh foods, and, therefore, are permissible from the humanitarian point of view.
The difficulty with most people is to know how much of the necessary elements are contained in various foods, or how much is needed to keep the body in health.
As a rough guide to the amount, a man doing ordinary work requires about twenty-three ounces of food that is free of water. As all food contains an average of fifty to sixty per cent. of water, just over double this amount must be allowed to get the full amount of nourishment - about forty-eight ounces, or three pounds, in twenty-four hours.
This quantity is subject to various conditions - age, sex, climate, the kind of work to be done, and the nature of the food chosen. A child naturally needs much less than a man or woman; hot countries require a dietary that differs from that suitable for cold climates; hard manual workers need more food, especially those that supply heat and energy, than do sedentary workers. Some foods are more concentrated than others - contain less water than the average - and go further for their weight, such as cheese; some contain a large amount of fat, as butter.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are watery or " bulky ", and supply some of the moisture needed by the body.
All these considerations modify the actual amount, but within a little, about forty-eight ounces of solid food and three pints of liquids should be allowed for each adult.
The food chosen must " balance " well, that is, supply not only the quantity but the right kinds of food in correct proportions; one rich in proteids should be served with others rich in the remaining food elements - rice with curry.
Proteids or flesh formers should form, roughly, about one part to every eight of ordinary solid food containing an average amount of water. Thus, in one pound of food the proportions, omitting very small fractions, would be about: Proteids one and two thirds ounces, fats one ounce, carbohydrates five ounces, salts one third ounce, water eight ounces.