All About Lachanophobia: Fear of the Vegetable

Imagine being a vegetarian and despising vegetables. The unimaginable is not so far-fetched.

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It’s at the root of the word that we use to define our eating ethics. It supplies us with nourishment and good health, and yet, some people are truly terrified. The fear-inducing creature at fault? None other than the vegetable. Lachanophobia is the proper term by which to name one who is afraid of vegetables. Sure, the phobia sounds a bit ludicrous, but it’s no laughing matter.

People who suffer from lachanophobia experience real symptoms at the mere sight of broccoli or bell peppers, ranging from nausea to shortness of breath. With nearly 30 percent of Americans being sensitive to the bitter taste of veggies and the inherent fussiness children have with green matter, the phobia is more common than you’d think.

“I just can’t stand the taste of most vegetables,” says Karla Kane of Mountain View, Calif. “It’s the taste and texture. It makes me gag as soon as I put it in my mouth. I don’t even like things that have touched broccoli.”

What’s a lachanophobe to do when empathy for animals overrules the fear of vegetables? These vegetarian vegetable haters often turn to sugary and starchy foods to fill their calorie quotas.

“What usually happens is I make something like spaghetti for dinner, and then instead of making a vegetable to go with it, I just blow it off because I know I’m going to get all the satisfaction I need from the spaghetti,” says Barbara Michels of Sunnyvale, Calif. “In my dream world, someone would come up with a chain of restaurants called ‘The Lazy Vegetarian’ and they would have a huge array of healthy non-meat items. It would be cheap, and they would have one on every corner.”

Because we haven’t achieved that dream world yet (getting closer, though!), and a lack of veggies in one’s life can be detrimental to anyone’s health, here are some delicious ways to turn those green gremlins into dreamy delectables:

The Dip Trick: Raw carrots, red bell peppers, and celery are the perfect edible spoons to scoop hummus, salsa, and even vegan cream cheese directly into your mouth. The crunch plus the dip is addicting.

To Market, To Market: There is no better way to find luscious, bursting-with-flavor fresh veggies than checking out your local farmers’ market. Free samples will win you over, too.

Stealthy Sneaking: Steaming zucchini, onions, carrots, and eggplant before pureeing them into a zesty, rich soup is an easy way to mask an undesirable texture of raw or plainly cooked vegetables. Including raw greens like spinach, kale, or peas in a fruit smoothie also ups your veg quotient without a savory taste.

Gimme Some Suga: Sweeter veggies such as peas, beets, yams, and squash are hard to resist when cooked correctly. Slice up a sweet tater and throw it in the oven; before you know it, you’ll be eating sweet potato fries faster than you can say “pass the ketchup.”

Face the Facts: Researching just how beneficial that bunch of kale is may be the key to losing lachanophobia. As Sir Francis Bacon once wrote: “Knowledge is power.”

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