Leaning toward veggies? AVH class offers a push | AspenTimes.com

Leaning toward veggies? AVH class offers a push

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Aspen Times file

ASPEN – Taking the meat out of meat and potatoes isn’t easy.

But for those who’d like to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, or at least move in that direction, Aspen Valley Hospital clinical dietitian Sandy Holmes will offer guidance.

Starting Thursday, she’ll lead a seven-week class offered by the hospital, “Leaning Toward a Plant-Based Diet.” The class is designed to help people make the transition or at least make changes in their diet, according to Holmes, who’s teaching the class a second time after its debut last winter.

“Plant-based diets are my passion,” said Holmes, a vegetarian for more than 30 years and a vegan (someone who eliminates all animal products from their diet, including dairy and eggs) for three years. “I really, really believe in this.”

The medical community recognizes a plant-based diet as a healthy way to lose weight and prevent and treat diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, according to the hospital.

But for those who want to move in that direction, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing in seven weeks. The course might simply provide the information to help participants make a step toward a vegetarian or vegan diet or nudge them in that direction.

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Ginny Dyche, community relations director at the hospital, took Holmes’ class last winter. She said she remains an occasional carnivore but has incorporated a lot more whole grains, vegetables and fruits into her diet.

“For me, it was about leaning toward a plant-based diet,” Dyche said. “I wanted to eat less meat. It was kind of overwhelming to me: What would I eat, and what would I feed my husband?

“I can’t honestly say I’m a vegetarian, but I’ve made great strides,” she said.

Holmes covers everything from the health benefits of a plant-based diet to how to stock the kitchen and alter recipes. She also addresses how to be sure to consume important nutrients and how to dine out and eat socially on a plant-based diet.

And she encourages class participants to prepare their own meals from scratch so they know exactly what they’re eating.

“I think you can eat a healthy vegetarian diet or eat a vegetarian diet that’s just junk food,” she said. Processed foods can be high in sodium and fat even though they’re meatless, she noted.

Holmes said she is finding more and more people receptive to the idea of a plant-based diet. The local Meatless Mondays movement has taken off as evidenced by growing participation in a monthly supper club at which participants share in a potluck dinner, swap recipes and socialize.

“I know there are a lot of people who are doing this in their own way, trying to get meat off the center of the plate,” Holmes said.

The class meets from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays in room 3 at the Health and Human Services Building, across from the hospital. Tuition is $100, and space is limited. Pre-register via email at sholmes@aspenhospital.org, or call 970-544-1145.

janet@aspentimes.com

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