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General Health and Wellness | July 28, 2015

My Meatless Week

One day for lunch about two weeks ago, I was eating a pulled pork sandwich, and I just felt so tired and bogged down by the meat. It was at this time that I decided I wanted a change in my diet, at least for a little while. I normally eat lean ­meat such as chicken and turkey, but I wanted to start with a clean vegetarian slate.I have always been inspired by the persistence and self­ control of my vegetarian friends. Not only do they avoid meat, they also manage to find new, creative ways to sustain a plant-based diet and still get all of the nutrients their bodies need. I decided to try it for one week, just as a personal challenge. For one whole week, I incorporated a lot more veggies into my diet and got creative with alternate sources of protein.

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Meals took a bit longer to prepare, but I made some really good dishes I normally wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t been eating exclusively vegetarian. One of my favorites was a sautéed squash, zucchini, pepper, and onion medley on a bed of couscous. I also created my own version of a Buddha Bowl: roasted potatoes, asparagus, onions, and curried chickpeas. I had never tried couscous or chickpeas before, so it was great to experience to eat these new foods. The leftover curried chickpeas were delicious cold in a salad the next day!

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Overall, I learned that meatless eating is not as difficult as I expected. It takes time, but vegetables are easy to cook and mix together to create new combinations. I was hungry more often, but I quickly learned I just needed to eat more at every meal; I could consume more fibrous, nutrient­dense foods such as fruit and vegetables during my meals to fill me up when I wasn’t eating meat. I also noticed a difference in the way I felt. Although I don’t usually eat a lot of meat anyway, I still felt more energetic as a result of my new diet. This feeling is what inspires me to continue eating vegetarian at least one day a week.

Studies show that curbing meat consumption, even just once a week, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer. A meatless meal is also beneficial for the environment, as it reduces the amount of water, greenhouse gases, and fossil fuels required to produce meat. All of these factors encourage me to continue my plan of going meatless at least once a week, as well as consciously integrating more vegetables and fruits into my diet overall!

Written By Danielle Rodriguez, Teach Healthier After School Intern

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