GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Go Vegetarian!

Today, I am finding inspiration in an event recently launched by GOOD – the GOOD 30-Day Challenge to go vegetarian. I’ve been feeling sluggish lately and think this is just the boost my body needs. I vow to be vegetarian (or as close as I can get) during the month of June!

Before you wrinkle your nose or grumble in protest, let’s put aside any preconceived thoughts and realize there can be a broad spectrum on involvement here. For die-hard bacon freaks, you can simply reduce meat intake from daily to a few days per week. For those already vegetarian, why not challenge yourself to be vegan?

It’s not so much about the label ‘vegetarian’ as it is about challenging ourselves to be more conscious of what we eat and how it impacts us physically. The GOOD media group brings a unique, personal perspective to the world in which we live and this month challenges us all to make healthier food choices:

The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Go Vegetarian from on Vimeo.

Why vegetarian works for me?

I grew up on a small, Midwestern farm on which we grew all of our own produce and raised our own meat. Each spring we would butcher a cow, pig, poultry for the year ahead. It was during my teenage years that I felt my first bit of rebellion and took a stance against animal slaughter. I became vegetarian at 17 years old.

Now, if you’ve ever been to a small, Midwestern farm you’ll know that being vegetarian was akin to being possessed by the devil. My mother didn’t know what to do and even took me to the doctor, to make sure I would’t somehow die by not eating meat. The doctor made me swear to take a multi-vitamin and get plenty of iron.

I remained vegetarian until college when meat eventually took over for a few years. I returned to being vegetarian while in grad school. I have never felt to healthy, alert, alive, as I did while being vegetarian. I know it can sound like a cult but it’s not. When your body eats easily digestible, highly nutritious foods, it runs like the finest European sports car.

How strict must I be?

Here’s where I worry about labels. When people hear ‘vegetarian’ they physically constrict and repel the idea. For me, I aspire to being vegetarian but don’t kick myself if I eat meat on occasion. We all have cravings and you shouldn’t deny yourself – it only will only make the cravings more intense.

Instead, assess what you’re currently eating and begin slowly. Review portion control guidelines to consider how you’ve been eating and how you might improve upon it. Can you increase your vegetable portion size and decrease your meat intake? Maybe, one day a week you do not eat meat. As you make one healthy choice, it will lead to the next.

What will I eat?

The web is littered with plenty of vegetarian recipes and ideas. You’ll find several recipes here at Eating Out Loud to get you started:

Beet Salad with Roasted Tofu
Hearty Barley & Lentil Soup
Caprese Salad with Olives
Spicy Chipotle Baked Beans
Citrus Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
Sesame Green Beans

Tips to a Successful Challenge

  • Slowly taper off your meat intake (especially for daily meat eaters)
  • Make sure to replace meat with a different protein source, you need your protein! Think tofu, quinoa, beans, etc.
  • Use bold flavors and spices to keep food from seeming bland or boring
  • Plan your meals for the week ahead so you are always prepared when hunger strikes
  • Know what you like and have it on hand — I love crunchy snacks, so I keep raw almonds or carrot sticks within reach at all times.

I’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks on what I’m eating and how I’m progressing during the challenge. If you’re needing a change, I highly recommend joining GOOD and Eating Out Loud as we eat ourselves healthy this month!

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