Do you aspire to a lifestyle that will transport you to a new level of health and vitality? Knowing that vegetarians weigh in at 10 to 20 pounds less than non-vegetarians, do you hope to eat that way, at least part of the time. (Qualify this: you would if you could find decent tasting veggie choices.) Do you want to shift your kids’ diets from fast foods to items they’ll like and that deliver good nutrition? Do you have a health concern (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity) and know that diet can play a major role in prevention and healing?

For a lifestyle change to become a permanent part of your life, you need a few key elements in place. First you must set your sites on your goal. Perhaps you’d like to add a new recipe or two to your cooking repertoire. You might wish to include more health oriented people in your network of friends. You may want to check out restaurant fare that is delicious, healthful, and handy to your workplace or home.

Second, to take off and fly with lifestyle changes, you’ll need the sustained support of wind beneath your wings. The help of others will help you to reach your goal. You may want to collaborate with a friend in assembling a new recipe once a month: shop for ingredients, try out a good chef knife, share a great meal. You could take a few cooking classes; sign up together with your daughter, son, mother, dad, husband, or that neighbour you’d like to get to know.

For one excellent source of support, mark your calendar to attend Taste of Health on Saturday September 30 and Sunday October 1. This annual event is sponsored by the volunteer organization Earthsave and is held at 16th and Commercial, at the Croatian Cultural Centre. Admission is a mere $5 to $7, or free if you pay a nominal amount to join Earthsave. It’s also free to children 12 and under, and to cyclists free to cyclists (just  show your helmet at the door). The weekend is packed with opportunities to see food demos, watch celebrity chefs in action, hear interesting speakers, try new food products, and for a couple of dollars, sample tasty restaurant fare.

Throughout the year, Earthsave offers a continuous stream of support for positive lifestyle change.  You’ll discover dine-outs, potlucks, speaker events, discussion groups, get-togethers for people under the age of 25, cooking classes, and volunteer evenings where you can make new friends. For details, call 604-731-5885 or go to www.earthsave.bc.ca   Online, they post a vegetarian directory.

To support your new vision for yourself, here are a few other ideas:

*Ask your best friend to switch from latté and pastry get-togethers to regular strolls or brisk walks along the sea wall.

*Join the North Shore Hikers (www.northshorehikers.org) or a local cycling group for year-round activities. The City of Vancouverhas established cycling routes (see http://vancouver.ca/engsvcs/transport/cycling/index.htm). TheFraserValley has many excellent cycling destinations (see http://www.britishcolumbia.com/recreation/?id=49). Don’t worry if you’re the oldest, or the youngest, in the group!

*Check out the new offerings at your local community centre: tai chi, yoga, or perhaps a stress-reducing comedy workshop.

*Adopt a dog; contact the SPCA at (604) 879-7721 or see BC locations at www.spca.bc.ca.  You’ll be giving a good home to a deserving canine, plus you’ll have a companion that will gaze at you with adoring eyes (even when your hair is a mess), and will motivate you to get outdoors for exercise several times a day. My 93 year old aunt Edna credits her good health to her faithful pooch Bogey and their walks by the ocean.

*Sign up for a regular delivery of organic produce. Check out Farm Folk City Folk at www.ffcf.bc.ca or (604) 730-0450. For evening delivery to Vancouver urbanites, and for the Fraser Valley to Hope, go to www.ladybugorganics.com or call 604-513-8971.

*Ask your local librarian to show you, on the shelves or online, their collection of vegetarian cookbooks or outdoor recreation  books.

A whole new world of delicious food choices, recreation opportunities, and good friends awaits you!

 

Vesanto Melina, MS, Registered Dietitian, is co-author of seven food and nutrition classic such as “The New Becoming Vegetarian”  (US title),“Becoming Vegetarian” (Canadian title), now in 14 countries and five languages, “Raising Vegetarian Children”, “Becoming Vegan”, and “The Food Allergy Survival Guide”. Web: www.nutrispeak.com Email: vesanto@nutrispeak.com ; Phone: 604-882-6782.  

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