hands preparing parsley over bowls with cauliflower, lemons and tomato

With all of the health observances this month, October should just be called Get Healthy Month! From Breast Cancer Awareness to Non-GMO Advocacy, people are in the mood to rock a healthier lifestyle as the days get cooler and crisper. Since we are just past the halfway mark this October, I wanted to offer some tips on how to make the most of what is also Vegetarian Awareness Month, obviously one of my favourite observances.

As always, this isn’t about an all or nothing approach. You don’t have to choose to be a strict vegetarian forever to make positive change – but it’s an awesome choice if it is right for you. The health and environmental benefits of eating more plants hold whether you introduce one meatless meal a day, one meatless day a week or simply aim to eat more fruits and veggies instead of hoagies and granola bars. So celebrate your health and vitality this month by filling up your plate with more plant-based goodies.

Plant-based diets boast a myriad of benefits – they are high in fibre, lower in fat, loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, and of course, delicious and satisfying! Besides the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet (such as lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease), it is also a more cost-efficient way to eat that can reduce your carbon footprint.

Seize the broccoli! Challenge yourself before month’s end with these simple ways to go green…and eat more greens!

1. Take on the Meatless Monday challenge.

It’s pretty self-explanatory – cut out that meat on Mondays! Instead, sneak in other satisfying sources of protein, including legumes (i.e. lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans), whole grains, nuts, tempeh and tofu.

2. Take advantage of the locally grown produce available.

Fall brings with it a host of delicious options like squash, apples and root veggies that will cellar all winter long. Winter produce tends to be less expensive than summer items and eating seasonally (no white-core strawberries in January!) is eco-friendly and economical. Apples can make a fantastic snack alone or paired with nut butters. Roast squash as a side dish or stuff it with quinoa, pecans, mushrooms and a maple-ginger glaze (be creative and make your own combinations).

3. Get creative and stay informed with recipes and veggie love from these great plant-powered role models.  

The Lovely Dreena Burton over at Plant Powered Kitchen

Awesome Vegan Dietitians, Julianna Hever, Vesanto Melina, Brenda Davis and Ginny Messina

Delicious, Accessible Recipes from Oh She Glows, The Lunchbox Bunch and Peggy Kotsopoulos

The Vegan Health Advocates at Forks Over Knives

4.     Scope out and explore vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants, cafes, and stores.

Vegetarian eating isn’t all wheat germ and nutritional yeast – there is a vegetarian eatery for every taste! Earthsave Canada has a Metro Vancouver Veg Directory that is an excellent resource in finding veggie friendly restaurants! Grab some suggestions off this website and get feasting!

 5.     Sneak in vegetables and fruits as snacks!       

Vegetables and fruit are surprisingly quick to prepare as a snack and are also super kid-friendly (yay!). Chop up several types of fruit and finish it with some lemon juice and chopped nuts as a delicious treat. Once it’s cut, add any extra fruit to yogurt, granola and salads. As for vegetables, enjoy chopped veggies with bean dips, stir fried or steamed at meal time or on their own for midday munchies.

Go green, my friends…feel amazing!

Lots of veggie love,