Being a vegetarian has its upsides: Compared with meat eaters, vegetarians have lower mean body mass indexes, lower cholesterol levels, and may have a lower risk of developing gallstones, appendicitis, constipation, and diverticulitis (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 1999, vol. 58, no. 2). There is one downside, however: Eating out can be a major hassle.

Help has arrived in the new Veg Out series (Gibbs Smith, 2004). Each vegetarian dining guide is a handbook focusing on a major metro area, including Southern California, Washington, D.C., New York City, Seattle, and Portland. Every book contains detailed yet succinct restaurant reviews and ratings, from popular and trendy cafés to hole-in-the-wall discoveries. In the back of the guide is a pull-out locator map of featured restaurants, as well as lists of greengrocers, farmers’ markets, and other veggie-friendly establishments, such as co-ops and bakeries. The Top 10 Index and the Cuisine Index will help speed up your search during those times when you need to eat now. Bon appétit.