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Meatless Mondays

A documentary called Forks Over Knives has been garnering both praise and criticism for its avid support of a plant-based, whole foods diet. This means no meat, no dairy, and (most tragically) no fro-yo. The film argues that this diet has been shown to prevent, halt, and even reverse major diet-related killers in the US, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Red and processed meat is often associated with increases in total mortality, as well as deaths related to cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, people on low-meat or vegetarian diets generally have lower body weights, lower BMIs, and have an overall reduced risk of weight gain.

To most American adults, two-thirds of whom are either overweight or obese, the concept of eating only whole grains, fruits, and vegetables seems extreme. However, as a doctor in the film argues, when you think of open heart surgery, a procedure in which a person is sliced in half to replace their heart valves with some from another area of the body, eating more than one apple a day doesn’t seem so bad.

I watched this documentary while exercising in the Estrogym, which is probably when I am at my most reflective and contemplative. I thought about the possibility/likelihood of even health-conscious Vanderbilt students like myself trying to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet on the meal plan, and determined that it would probably require more effort than I was willing to give.

However, I liked the concept of “Meatless Mondays” – removing meat from my diet for one day a week. I was vegetarian for two years in high school, so I’ve had some practice, but with the many vegetarian options on campus, I think that most people could easily give up the burgers for a day. I decided that I would not give up dairy products, however, because of the more limited vegan options available on campus. However, in addition to Meatless Mondays, I’ve decided to limit my meat consumption to one meal a day. So far, it’s been going well! Grins has definitely become my friend, but I’ve found that I haven’t missed meat in Rand or Commons meals either. Although we do have a generally health-conscious campus, it still couldn’t hurt to try out this diet, if only to add variety to the foods we already eat.

For those of you who may be interested in participating in Meatless Mondays, here are some examples from campus eateries of entrees and side suggestions that would follow the plant-based diet:

Grins (everything is vegetarian and mostly whole food; great rotating sides as well):

Mexicali Wrap: black beans, avocado, pico de gallo and brown rice in a flour tortilla, served with fire-roasted salsa, sour cream OR pickled jalapeños on the side (could add cheese)

Superfood Wrap: avocado, quinoa, edamame, cucumber, tomato, carrot, red cabbage, bean sprouts and baby spinach in a whole wheat wrap, served with wasabi-lime mayo, fresh herb vinaigrette OR house-made hummus on the side

Grilled Cheese Panini: cheddar, muenster, and roasted garlic mayo on house-made whole-wheat focaccia

Greek Row Salad: house-made hummus + pita, mixed greens, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, roasted red pepper, red onion, olives, goat cheese, and lemon-oregano vinaigrette

Chef James (daily vegetarian options!):

Crimson Lentils, Orzo and Roasted Shallots (with buttered noodles from the comfort station and mixed fruit)

Commons (Chef’s Table):

Cauliflower & Red Lentil Curry (with rice from the Wok and whole fruit)

Commons (other):

Broccoli Cheese soup (with side salad and banana)

Food for Thought Cafe (in Main Library):

Grilled Vegetable and Fontina on Foccacia (with fruit cup and Steaz tea drink)

Last Drop Coffee Shop:

Peach Mango smoothie with added protein (with wheat bagel, peanut butter, and iced coffee)

Rotiki:

Big Island Pizza (no ham): red sauce, pineapple, cheese & jalapeno

Elvis Monkey Panini: Peanut butter, grape jam and banana

The Pub:

Cheese Quesadilla: jack and cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole and fire-roasted salsa (with a side of cut fruit and unsweetened tea)
 

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