Meatless March: Are You Taking the Challenge?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Happy March, everyone! Are you participating in the 30-Day Meatless Challenge?  
In addition to being the month that spring officially begins, March is also the time of Lent and Purim (did you know that Queen Esther might have been vegan?).

Did you know that during in ancient times, fasting during Lent was much stricter--in some places, all animal products were forbidden--and in other countries, predominantly in the East, only vegan foods are consumed during Lent?

March is also National Nutrition Month, and March 20 is Meatout day.

And SparkPeople's first official e-book, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," published earlier this week. (Thanks to you, the book has been #1 in vegetarian and low-fat diet e-books on Amazon all week, and it also was in the top five of all vegetarian cookbooks--"real" and e-books. WooHoo!)

I can't think of a better time to experiment with meatless meals.

Many of you have had questions regarding the challenge. It's simple. We're using the Vegetarian Team as our home base, and I'm posting a new thread each week. (Click here for this week's thread.) Feel free to post your questions and comments there, and on my weekly blogs, which will run Fridays through the month of March.

I called this the "Meatless Challenge" because it allows for some flexibility in your food choices. Meatless includes vegan and vegetarian meals. You can define meatless however you please; I'm not hear to judge!

So what should we be doing?

If you're already eating vegan meals, use the month of March to clean up your diet. Some suggestions:
  • Track one of the key nutrients vegetarians and vegans need to watch. Check in on your calcium levels, plan to boost your iron intake, or ramp up your Omega-3s.
  • Take a cooking challenge. If you're a vegan who doesn't like to cook, take this month as a chance to get more comfortable in the kitchen.
  • Keep your sweet tooth in check. Challenge yourself to smaller portions or less-frequent sweets if that's something you struggle with.
If you're new to meatless meals, start small. Some suggestions:
If you're someone who says you could never eat meat, I'm not going to pressure you to give it up. That's your decision. However, you could use this month as a chance to eat more vegetables and whole grains.
So what's the next step?
Blog about your experience as you go along. Share your tips, the changes you observe in your body, and your new favorite recipes on your SparkPage. And keep checking in on the veg team thread.

I'm taking this challenge as well. I feel so excited to have all of you supporting me along the way!  Since I already eat a meatless diet (a 100% vegan one to be exact!), I will use the month of March to clean up my diet.

My goals:
  1. Break my after-dinner sweets habit. I don't have a sweet tooth, but my boyfriend does. He brings out the chocolate, and I can't resist. I am determined to take a month off from mindlessly eating sweets after dinner!
  2. Increase my protein intake. I eat enough protein, but I usually end up in the low end of my range on SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker. Eating protein aids in satiety and helps you stay fuller longer. I sometimes struggle with maintaining my hunger levels, so I think that reaching for protein-rich snacks will help. I'll add more nuts and seeds to my snacks, double my portions of beans, tofu or tempeh at dinner, and I'll add brown rice protein powder to my post-workout smoothies.
I'm excited to see how this challenge affects me. Are you?
Today let's talk quickly about vegan snacks, which can be a lifesaver when you're away from home and there's no veg-friendly food in sight.
What are some tasty vegan snacks that don't require a recipe?
  • Granola bars
  • Cereal and soy or almond milk
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Fruit and nut butter (apples and almond butter are a favorite of mine!)
  • Hummus and whole-grain crackers or veggies
  • Salsa and baked chips
  • Smoothies made with fruit and non-dairy milk
  • Sorbet with fruit and granola
  • Smoked tofu slices with crackers or fruit (my version of cheese and crackers)
  • Instant or regular oatmeal
One of my favorite snacks is kale chips, a recipe for which I include in the ebook. I hope you'll check it out!

Some of you have asked whether you need a Kindle reader to download the book. No, you don't. You can download Kindle apps for your mobile phone or your computer (Kindle for PC and Mac are available).

Also, a Nook version and an iPad version of the e-book are coming soon! Please stay tuned for more info on those.

Thank you so much for your support of our first official e-book. I look forward to writing and sharing more with you, and I am really excited to share my passion for plant-based eating with you!
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me a SparkMail, and I'll answer them in next week's blog.

Go veggies!

What is your goal for the challenge? Why are you inspired to take the challenge?

What is your favorite vegan snack?