April 21 – 27, 2014 was US Veg Week, and the NutriFit staff participated fully (and deliciously!). I’ve got two recaps of that week to share with you; the first, a guest post written by my admin assistant, is below.
At the start of US Veg Week, my studio counted one vegan, one vegetarian, and two “flexitarians” (semi-vegetarians). At the close of US Veg Week, we added another vegetarian to the group! Enjoy Leah’s recap; I found it so exciting to read about the experiences she had during her week without meat. . .
Guest Post – By Leah Freund
Attempting a vegetarian diet was something I had always wanted to try, but never had motivation to start. US Veg Week 2014 provided the opportunity to pledge and receive helpful tips, recipes and other resources. A lot of material provided by US VegWeek encouraged diets without meat, eggs and dairy. Personally, I chose to go one step at a time and use the week to go meat free. There are a couple dairy items that I already use replacements for including soy milk and ice cream, but a complete shift to a vegan diet seemed a little too extreme for me right away.
The most difficult meals I encountered were at restaurants. Day one started at a restaurant near my house where I frequently eat breakfast. Normally I would order a skillet that contains bacon, but that day I ordered an item I have never tried before, a spinach and feta omelet. Yes, there were eggs and cheese, but there was no meat (baby steps).
I also ate at a Cajun restaurant that has chicken and seafood dishes as the majority of their choices. As a seafood lover, it was difficult to pass up a great dish, but the grilled vegetarian platter I chose was delicious and had a great variety of vegetables. It was encouraging because it is also something that can easily be prepared at home with rice, grilled vegetables, tomato sauce and Cajun spices.
Day 4’s email from US VegWeek recommended a couple films. I found one of those films on Netflix, a documentary called Vegucated. Vegucated follows three New Yorkers as they attempt a vegan diet for six weeks. Along the way they learn interesting things about conditions on farms, the impact farming has on the ecosystem and the ways a vegan diet can improve your health. There were some graphic moments explaining some of the abuse and conditions animals experience on farms that were very eye opening. Those particular examples may have been extreme, but the facts about the impact on the ecosystem and sustainability were things I previously had no idea about.
Overall, I discovered that adapting to a vegetarian diet was not as difficult as I thought it would be. At the beginning, my goal was to get through the week, but now I know that I will continue with a vegetarian diet. Even the differences from the beginning to the end of the week were encouraging; the only dairy product I was still eating at the end was cheese. I also haven’t ruled out slowly adapting to a vegan diet, even if it’s only part time. I feel healthier, I don’t feel sluggish after meals, and I feel good knowing my choices are better for animals, the environment and myself.