Germ Free Vegetarian Dining: 5 Disease Culprits You Won’t Encounter at A Vegetarian Restaurant

These days, it seems like germs are everywhere. From the swine flu to the avian flu, we seem to be under siege from deadly bacteria and viruses. Fortunately, when you dine in a vegetarian restaurant, there are some illnesses that you can forget about for an hour or two. Here are 5 germs that you are less likely to encounter when you choose a vegetarian dining option for your next meal.

1. Salmonella
This illness-causing bacteria is carried primarily in meat and eggs. Most often, people ingest the bacteria when eating meats or eggs that have not been fully cooked. Since your vegetarian meal contains no meat or eggs, you do not have to worry about proper preparation time.

Salmonella can sometimes spread from contaminated meat to other foods and surfaces if the preparer touches the item after handling uncooked meat. Vegetarian restaurant kitchens are safe from any possibility of cross contamination. Even if a germ managed to get on your veggie before it arrived at the restaurant, the bug is eliminated when your chef washes your veggies before use.

2. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) a.k.a. Mad Cow Disease
Rare but deadly, BSE is caused by a mutated protein that enters the body and causes the brain and spinal cord to degenerate, eventually leading to death. It is carried exclusively in meat products and is transmitted by consuming the affected beef. Your dinner at a vegetarian restaurant is guaranteed to be BSE-free.

3. E. coli
E. coli is a bacteria which produces toxins that can cause serious illness and even death, particularly among those with a weakened immune system. It is most commonly transmitted in undercooked meat, such as the hamburger-related outbreak on the West Coast a few years ago. While unwashed produce can occasionally contain E. coli, basic washing eliminates the bacteria. Simply put, as long as your restaurant is washing its vegetables before use, you’re completely safe.

If you’re still worried, go organic for your vegetarian dining. Certified organic farms were found to have a lower incidence of E. coli than other producers. If you want to be doubly sure that your meal is bacteria free, an organic vegetarian restaurant is less likely to have E. coli than other restaurants.

4. Shellfish poisoning
Nearly everyone has known someone who has gotten sick after a seafood dinner. Clams, mussels, oysters and scallops are the most common culprits. These two-shelled bottom feeders often build up toxins as they filter the water for their nutrients. When improperly cooked, those toxins remain in the meat, entering your system and leading to a few days of gastrointestinal misery. You can avoid any risk of shellfish poisoning by opting for a vegetarian dining option instead.

5. Clostridium perfringens
This is another illness-causing bacteria carried in poorly prepared meat and poultry. While the subsequent gastrointestinal upset is not usually fatal, it is weakening and can last for 24 to 48 hours after consumption. Most of us have experienced it at some time or another without knowing it, since studies have shown that the majority of the population has antibodies left over from previous infection. To save yourself from a case of the “stomach flu,” choose a vegetarian restaurant instead.

Dangerous, disease-causing bacteria lurk in incorrectly prepared meat, poultry and shellfish, and you can get your dose unknowingly from a meat-serving restaurant. Choose a vegetarian restaurant instead for a germ free dining experience.

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