***image2***The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are proven, and the KMC Veggie Society is helping to create an information outlet for anyone interested in improving their diet.
According to Staff Sgt. Caroline Wood, U.S. Air Forces in Europe international terminal instrument procedures specialist and founder of the KMC Veggie Society, the society was organized in July as a support group for people interested in the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.
Membership includes health seekers, vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists. The group’s membership of 80 come from all over, including America, Germany, Croatia and Turkey.
“Starting this vegetarian support group has allowed me to feel a part of something very special,” she said. “Our reasons for being vegetarian are as diverse as our membership and it is a great atmosphere.”
According to Sergeant Wood, key concerns of many new and seasoned veggies include finding local options and meeting other vegetarians – this is a need the society fills.
“I would have to say the best part of helping this group start is the connection we share in our choice to be vegetarians,” she said. “Whether we are strict or starters, it is nice to belong to a growing community of individuals who are pro-active about their health. I am glad I can be a part of that.”
Health professionals agree with this pro-active approach. According to the American Dietetic Association, appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
The ADA report, from 2003, says well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.
Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals. Vegetarians have been reported to have lower rates of death from heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.
According to Sergeant Wood, the veggie society meets regularly and organizes educational walking tours of the commissary and local area, and dining parties are set up at local restaurants specializing in vegetarian and organic dishes.
Additionally, meetings and potlucks at member’s homes have included a Mexican buffet and volksmarch.
“Twenty members attended our Jan. 28 potluck,” said Sergeant Wood. “The food was phenomenal and the conversations expansive. We talked about where to buy organics on the German economy, natural food stores – called Reformhaus in Germany – and concerns about the environment and animal rights. The accumulated knowledge of resources, recipes and health were exchanged.”
Sergeant Wood also sends out a newsletter to inform members on upcoming events.
“My experience in Germany has been enriched by finding new health food stores and meeting our group and German vegetarian group members,” said Sergeant Wood. “I hope that by participating in our group and events all veggies find their time here in Germany was enhanced.”
Anyone curious about the KMC Veggie Society can contact Sergeant Wood by e-mail, at email@example.com.