If youíre cringing at the thought of giving up meat and dairy for a week and find no compelling reason to join the Empower Team in the Vegan Challenge Iíd like to share with you my unassuming yet powerful rationale. Itís not that I donít care about the environmental impact of eating animal products or the associated health benefits of a well-planned vegan diet. Itís just that I know many folks are simply not moved by those factors. While I do not advocate that a vegan diet is THE way to go to be healthy, beautiful and thin, in spite of the current celebrity buzz, I do support the idea that turning some attention to the subject of food and making some challenging choices for a few days can be beneficial in meaningful ways.
For one, the key to surviving and even enjoying the week lies in proper planning. Whether or not you choose to use the meal options and recipes in our packet, you will need to do the shopping and decide which meals work for you and which youíd like to modify. If youíre using your own ideas, making a plan will help you see for yourself if the meal will be appetizing, satisfying and a good match for you and your family. Which brings me to a fundamental aspect of my work as a registered dietitian: helping people make behavior changes that will support their wellness goals. These behavior changes are accomplished one step at a time. Often, dedicating a few minutes a week to plan your meals and consequently your shopping list turns out to be a life changing habit that simplifies your life, keeps you on track, and prevents waste of those precious veggies in your crisper.
Another change that could prove to be helpful is that you may be challenged to try a new food, spice or food combination. Unless youíre already a vegan extraordinaire, the recipes in the booklet will probably feature a new veggie, whole grain or combination of spices that youíve never tried before. Making an effort to use these will help you try new foods that youíd otherwise not feel compelled to. You may realize that you can easily incorporate some of these ingredients into your usual fare or perhaps you find that some of the recipes are so simple that you can make them over and over again. Which would lead to a lasting behavioral change I definitely advocate: eating (and enjoying) more whole foods.
Lastly, you may discover that you can, in fact, be more conscientious about what you eat and how you feel when you eat well. This may inspire you to make some of your changes part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine and little by little you will realize that you are in a better place than you were before. This is the essence of positive behavioral change before we know it we reject the place we were at before and fully embrace as natural the new place weíve arrived at. In this case, eating more delicious and nutritious whole foods as part of an ëempoweredí lifestyle.
Happy Vegan Eating!
Monicaís approach emphasizes whole foods, joyful eating, and developing a healthy relationship with food as essential for lifetime wellness.