Could vegetarianism help solve the Middle East conflict? U.S. celebrity chef Christina Pirello, who is currently in Israel teaching about macrobiotic cooking, doesn't suggest peace would break out the moment Israelis and Palestinians stopped eating schnitzel and shawarma. She believes, however, that meat causes people to lose their ability to accept somebody else's point of view and that most conflicts in the world could be solved if people ate less meat.

"Meat tends to make people opinionated and inflexible in many ways, physically as well as psychologically," the 54-year-old told Anglo File this week. "One thing I've noticed in my many years of keeping a plant-based diet is that people who eat plants - while they may not always agree with each other - always see the other opinion as valid. Sometimes the things we eat, particularly when they contain chemicals, sugars and saturated fat, it clouds your vision a lot."

Pirello, who won the 1998 Emmy Award for her U.S.-wide televised cooking show, is a vigorous proponent of a macrobiotic diet, which strictly consists of plant-based and unprocessed foods, such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

Supporters of the diet believe the food they do eat has tremendous powers. Pirello, for instance, believes switching to a macrobiotic lifestyle 26 years ago saved her at a time when doctors who diagnosed her with leukemia told her she had only six months to live.

Despite the apparent limitations, macrobiotic dishes should still be "sexy, delicious and luscious," the Philadelphia-based Pirello said, while serving a purpose in life. "If I need to be strong and focused, should I be eating sugar as much as I like? If I need to be more relaxed should I eat so much salt? We [macrobiotics] pay much more attention to the way food affects us than any other style of cuisine," she asserts.

For Ginat Rice, the U.S.-born immigrant hosting Pirello during her 9-day visit, macrobiotics is much more than a diet. "It's a way of life, it includes the thoughts we think. It's not only the peas and the carrots, it's also my attitude. And I find that my attitude improves the better I eat," she told Anglo File, hours before over 50 people crowded her Jerusalem apartment for Pirello's first class on Sunday. Throughout the year, Rice and her husband Sheldon offer classes in macrobiotics as well as numerology, shiatsu and palmistry.

While Rice says it is impossible to estimate how many people in Israel follow a macrobiotic diet, an increasing number is interested in alternative approaches to food. She said getting people in Israel - which has a strong meat eating culture - to change, but that she finds much openness and awareness of natural food here.

"In the U.S., I find people are more square - saying this is what mother cooked, and what her mother cooked, etc," she added. "Here people are much more willing to listen to new ideas."