Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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On Exercise

When was the last time you saw a FAT vegetarian? Yes, all those thin people with the long hair at the co-op are probably vegetarian. And the vegan ones? Those are the ones built like Gandhi and Ally McBeal: super thin, waif-like people who will never have to loosen their belts or find themselves embarrassingly having to buy clothes a size or two larger than normal. I was once told that vegan is actually a rough translation of a Latin phrase that means "those who can eat all they want and never ever have to worry about it."

Or so I thought. Being vegan does go a long way towards solving many of the ethical, environmental, and animal rights problems that our society faces, but it is not a weight-loss plan. It is important for us to remember that our healthy vegan diet is just one component of our overall health. Even the vegan food we consume contains calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Our body needs all of these to function properly, but what if we eat more healthy vegan calories than our bodies require? Our smart bodies store the calories for future use. This doesn't sound like a problem until you realize that those calories are stored as fat. Through a longer process, unused carbohydrates are also stored as fat. Yes, even the ones from vegan food. Happily, there is an easy way around this.

Another major and necessary component of our health is physical activity. All those spare calories do not have to be stored as fat -- we can burn these calories through exercise. Don't you hate the word "exercise?" It brings to mind visions of those guilt-inspiring television advertisements for gyms and spas where the beautiful people get chiseled, firm, tanned, and toned. If you're like me, you may hear the term "exercise" and instantly acknowledge that you're not a Mr. or Mrs. Universe, you never will be, and who wants all those veins anyway? Now that we have agreed on that point, consider that exercise doesn't have to involve going anywhere near a gym, nor do you have to wear skimpy stretch clothing with a shoe company logo. Sounding better already, isn't it? Here are some ideas you may even find fun:

  • Pop on a CD with any type of music that has a fast, regular beat. Close the curtains, turn off all the lights, and dance! With no one there to see you in the dark you will probably find that those dance inhibitions will disappear and you'll have a great time. Not only is this fun, you're burning calories the whole time.

  • When was the last time you went for a walk? No, I don't mean "to the car." Just go for a walk around the block, somewhere familiar. You will find that by walking you will see things that escaped you as you flew past in a car. After a while you'll find that you have slipped into a comfortable rhythm, and the walk can be a peaceful break from the rest of your life. Do this walk on a regular basis, and you'll find that it becomes easier and easier. Remember that the distance isn't the important part -- the walking is. Sometimes it' s fun to walk with a friend, too. You'll both be burning calories the whole time.

I bike to work and back every day. It's a great opportunity to get my blood pumping before I get to work and to relax on the way home. There are a lot of ways that we can burn calories, improve our health, and look and feel better too. Just start in small, nonthreatening steps and do it on a regular basis. Maybe exercise isn't so bad after all!

Rob B.D.
Arizona

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