It’s baaaaaaaack! Yes indeed, folks, the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is making its third foray into the refrigerators and lifestyles of anyone interested in improving their health, helping our environment AND fellow sentient beings. As some of you may know, on April 11th I will have been a vegetarian for 17 years! For me it’s ALWAYS been an animal rights issue, and once I finally made the decision to become vegetarian I have not looked back or even ONCE missed being a meat-eater.  There are SO MANY delicious and healthy alternatives, never mind the fact I could never, ever, EVER again bite into something that had once been living.

I took part in the January 1st,  21-Day Vegan Kickstart and will also be taking part in the next one which begins THIS MONDAY, March 1st.  Some might wonder why the first go-round didn’t “work” for me.  After all, if it’s so great, why am I not vegan now? Well, it DID “work” for me, in the sense of getting me to easily learn how to not only shop in a healthy way, but also to actually (sit down for this) COOK!  And even more shocking than the fact I am now cooking (and that no one has died from my creations…in fact they’ve LOVED them), is the fact that I enjoy it!  Yes, it’s true, I actually relish the time I spend chopping onions, cleaning veggies, cooking/baking, and of course, delving into the delicious meals created at my very own hands.  Yup, still getting over the shock of all that…trust me.

I have, though, found that a vegan diet takes more effort and planning than a vegetarian diet did for me. Going veggie just meant NOT eating certain things which I could easily avoid. Going vegan (for me) requires checking more labels (especially for dairy products and by-products which can go by various names) and spending more time planning: Planning the meal, planning the shopping, planning the shelf/fridge life of perishable items and fruits/veggies/herbs.  That being said, it’s something I know I will have no issues with, just as soon as I get a wee bit more time to become accustomed to it, hence going back to being veggie a few days after the last Kickstart ended, and now starting again on Monday. My diet is about 95% vegan already, so going fully vegan is just around the corner. Side benefit to doing the Kickstart has been that I’ve pulled out my library card and checked out some really great vegan cookbooks before plunking down any dinero on them!

I plan on blogging about my experiences last time, as well as experiences this go round. (I’m working on a list, and will post it, of items I would HIGHLY recommend having as staples, since the list provided to you when you sign up just doesn’t cut it.) I was lucky enough to have my buddy, Rachel, join me on the January adventure, and this time she’ll be there again as well as another friend, Carla, and some co-workers she’s invited!  Please feel free to sign up for the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, then come over here and share YOUR adventures. (Note to self: Remember to get your fanny over here and blog, blog, BLOG!)

Here’s the email from PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine):

On March 1, 2010, the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program will help thousands of people begin a healthy vegan diet. Please sign up now and then forward this message to everyone on your e-mail list, so they can join this monumental, life-changing event, benefiting their health, the animals, and the environment.

Low-fat vegan diets are so popular nowadays because they are the easiest way to trim excess weight, prevent diabetes, cut cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent and reverse heart disease, and reduce cancer risk. They even trim our carbon footprint.

The Kickstart is a free, noncommercial program open to all organizations and individuals. Set up by PCRM, the Kickstart program gives participants menus, recipes, nutrition webcasts, and daily encouraging messages from health authorities and Hollywood celebrities.

Neal Barnard, M.D. » Encouragement and lifesaving information from Dean Ornish, M.D., Alicia Silverstone, four-time NBA champion John Salley, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Rip Esselstyn, and many more
» Daily e-tips that are designed to put you on the path to weight loss, better health, and greater well-being
» 21-day meal plan with delicious, easy, and satisfying recipes sent every day that will help you break cravings for unhealthy foods
» Weekly motivational nutrition webcasts
» Social support of other Kickstart participants through a community forum where nutrition professionals answer health and diet questions
» An interactive vegan restaurant guide
» “Tweet What You Eat!” on Twitter

Register for the Kickstart today at 21DayKickstart.org.

Please place the Kickstart banner on your Web site [right-click the banner image and “Save Picture/Image As” to your computer] and forward this e-mail to your friends and contacts.

Aiming to make the world healthier and more compassionate,
Neal Barnard, M.D.
Neal Barnard, M.D.
President