Going vegan is one of the most beautiful ways of expressing love and compassion towards all beings. The vegan movement is at an all-time high. People I would have never suspected are ditching dairy and eating more plant-based foods. It seems as if there is a new plant-based alternative to your favorite food popping up at the market weekly. Even fast food restaurants have jumped on board to make plant-based options accessible. You can find Beyond Meat at Carl’s Jr., Del Taco and now Dunkin’ in Manhattan. Impossible Foods can be found at Burger King, White Castle, Red Robin, and Dave & Buster’s. While this is all incredible news for the animals and the planet, it’s easier than ever to become unhealthy on a vegan diet.
I started noticing this trend with my own vegan family. While I eat a high raw, whole foods plant-based vegan diet for health and spiritual reasons, my animal-rights-loving family enjoy their fair share of processed foods. My girls are sixteen and thirteen, and even though the house is stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, they don’t always eat as many of them as I would like when they make their own meals.
One day last year we were talking about how many different fruits and vegetables we’d had the day before. My older daughter had an idea to start a contest. Without giving it too much thought, I added that the contest would last a month and the winner would get $50. Both my girls were excited to play but there was one stipulation: I wasn’t allowed to join. They feared I would make it too hard. I told them it was fine but that their dad had to join to keep them on their toes.
It turns out my family can get quite competitive. To my surprise the average amount of different fruits and veggies eaten each day hovered around 16-17. My girls ended up tying and splitting the money. You can read about our first round on my blog.
Last year’s competition was the first of many. Since then, my kids’ friends and even some of their parents have joined. During our last go-around, one of our friends kicked off his first month of going plant-based with the competition.
Every time we play, I get similar feedback. The parents are always surprised at how many fruits and vegetables their kids ate. The winner always looks and feels amazing. The game is so competitive that the serious players ate very little in the way of nutritionally marginal foods.
So if you are trying to get your kids, significant other or yourself motivated to eat better, try starting your own fruit and veggie competition. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose a prize that motivates the players. Our game got expensive. Think about having each participant pay $10 to enter. The prize could be enjoyed by the winner or donated to charity.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Each portion has to represent a fair amount. For example, you can’t have 1 grape or raisin and count them. It has to be at least a small handful. Different varieties of the same vegetable count as separate. For example a cherry tomato and a large beefsteak tomato can each be counted. Pickles, chips and french fries don’t count! Frozen fruits and vegetables are fine.
- Keep it fun. The goal is to eat healthier with family and friends.
- For an added health benefits, choose organic when possible.
- If you are eating only plants be sure to take a B-12 supplement.
- Try starting on the 1st of the month to stay motivated.
Whether you win or lose, bringing more fruits and vegetables into your diet is the great way to look and feel your best. Your body and mind will thank you for the added antioxidants and fiber and you’ll develop a great habit along the way.
Holly Skodis is the founder of Yoga Is Vegan, a project and podcast dedicated to raising the collective consciousness. She is a Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator, a 500-hour registered yoga teacher and co-founder of digital creative agency, Real Pie Media, Inc. She can be found on Instagram at @hollyskodis and @yogaisvegan.