When I first became vegetarian sometime in high school, I went to this Vegetarian Nutrition Seminar offered by the Austin Meditation Center. I just got a newsletter from them and it made me think I should post something about the class here.
I took the class a long time ago, but I remember thinking it was pretty informative. It’s a 5-hour long class, so they pack in a lot of information. They provide quizzes, videos, snacks, a great dinner at the end of the class, and helpful handouts and information packets for you can take home.
The seminar covers many topics related to vegetarianism, including basic nutrition facts, myths about vegetarianism, reasons why people become vegetarians, and healthy meals and recipes. It actually covers quite a bit about basic nutrition (which is why this class is beneficial for both vegetarians and non vegetarians). One thing that sticks in my mind — I remember the teacher taking two loaves of bread, one long loaf of white bread and one short loaf of whole grain bread, and smushing them on the ground. She showed how the crappy white bread stayed smushed and the good whole grain bread bounced back almost to its original shape.
This was meant to illustrate two things:
- While you typically pay extra for the whole grain bread, you are actually getting more for your money.
- If the spongy white bread compacts and smushes that much, imagine how it sticks inside your stomach (kinda like gum).
Anyway, there is a suggested donation of $25 (to cover food and materials), but they are pretty good about working with your budget. One option is to bring a friend and share the information materials for a discounted rate.
One more thing worth mentioning: Vegans who want to attend the class should probably ask that the meal is prepared vegan.
I e-mailed the Austin Meditation Center last February when I had planned to attend the class with a friend.
This is what I said:
“I took this class many years ago and I am now vegan. I don’t remember this class serving any animal products in the meal, but I was just wondering if that is a ‘dietary restriction’ I should mention on the registration form.”
This was the response I got:
“The food we serve is almost all vegan — the only exception is butter that we sometimes use in cooking certain things and putting on the vegetables, but I can make it all vegan, so no worries.”
It sounds like they’re very flexible and willing to cater to vegans, so I just wonder why they don’t make the dinner all vegan in the first place–especially since butter seems to be the only issue (which, in my opinion, is a very unnecessary ingredient that can easily be replaced with things like olive oil or Earth Balance).
Regardless, this is a great class for someone interested in embracing vegetarianism or healthier eating in general.