Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Garden Lites can help Oprah and YOU go vegan!

Did you catch yesterday's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show? She and 378 of her staff decided to go vegan for a week. We at Garden Lites were excited to hear that eating healthier, especially vegan and vegetarian diets, had reached the "Oprah" level of awareness. We'll recap it for you here, and give you options to help incorporate some of her ideas into your everyday life.

Who is vegan?

Vegetarian Times did a study in 2008 and found that 1 million people in America follow a vegan lifestyle, they fall within the 7.3 million people who are vegetarians and in addition to that, 22.8 million people lead a "vegetarian-inclined diet". That means 13.2% of the population has adopted some form of vegetarianism. And the numbers have only gone up since!

What is "vegan"?

Veganism is a diet consisting of no animal meat or byproducts. That means no meat, fish, eggs, milk or any other food that came from an animal. For even more about what the vegan lifestyle is like, visit's frequently asked questions page, here.

Why go vegan?

Oprah wasn't shunning the meat industry like her snafu in 1998, instead she was trying to raise people's awareness of what they consume. By stepping back and changing up your patterns, you can create new, healthier habits that promote balanced diet and happier living. Many staffers commented that by the end of the week they were feeling much lighter and full of energy than they had on their previous diets that included meat. Numerous staffers happily (over)shared on their positive digestion experiences. We won't get into that, but it has been proven that eating more fruits and vegetables helps regulate your digestive system. Food expert and author Michael Pollan encourages people to follow these 7 words when it comes to what they consume: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

How can you be vegan?

Not everyone can have the help of Oprah's chefs and Harpo's cafeteria working hard to create inventive vegan options. There are lots of resources out there, Vegan Starter Kits and Vegetarian Starter Kits. When re-assessing how you eat, it often means going back to basics in your kitchen, dissecting what really goes into food, and taking out what doesn't need to be there. Restaurants add lots of extra ingredients and calories and when you start cooking at home you'll be able to control what you eat. Many busy people don't have time to cook fresh homemade vegan meals every day and need a fast at-home or on-the-go option. If you find yourself thinking "I like the concept of cutting out meat and byproducts, but I just can't fit it into my lifestyle" that's where Garden Lites can help. Our frozen products can help fill in the gaps when it comes to healthy, meat-free items.

If you are trying the vegan lifestyle, our Zucchini Marinara and Zucchini Portabella "pasta" dishes are great options for you. Use them as a lunch, side dish, or atop pasta for a complete meal.

If you are "leaning in" as they say, and trying the vegetarian lifestyle instead, all 8 of our Garden Lites souffles and dishes can help you keep variety and convenience in your eating ritual. Visit our website, to learn more about all of our products.

Where can you get vegan products?

Oprah's episode was sponsored by Whole Foods, where they carry numerous vegan and vegetarian foods. Many grocery stores are taking on the challenge to provide more natural options for customers. Garden Lites are located in Whole Foods across the country as well as many other retailers. To find our products in a store near you, visit our Store Locator.

In the end, Oprah didn't push the vegan lifestyle on her viewers, but recommended they "lean in" and try eating vegan or vegetarian once a week. The "Meatless Monday" campaign has been underway since 2003 and they do exactly that, promote vegetarian eating once a week. On their website they say "Our goal is to help you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet. [...] By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change." You can do it, Garden Lites can help.

To learn more about Oprah's Vegan Challenge, click here.

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