Once viewed as taboo to caloric-conscious eaters, the take on nuts now is very different, argues a recent piece in The Los Angeles Times. For plant-based eaters, nuts are one of biggest sources for protein, not to mention a popular base for dairy-free alternatives to cheese and milk. Since vegetarianism is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, the article argues more people are turning to nuts to fulfill their culinary and nutritional needs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of almonds produced in the country has doubled between from 2001 to 2002 and 2010 to 2011. Additionally, the number of walnuts and pistachios produced has nearly doubled. In addition to making meat- and dairy-free diets more convenient, nuts have been observed to lower bad cholesterol and provide the body with an ample amount of omega-3 fatty acids.