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How Eco-Friendly is Your Food? Find out with Veg 101 and the Master Vegetarian Program.

Confronted by rising food prices and global climate change, more people are reducing their carbon footprint and saving money by making changes to their lifestyle. If you find yourself wondering how your dietary choices affect the environment, your wallet, and your health, now is a great time to sign up for Veg 101 and the Master Vegetarian Program.
Modeled after the Master Recycler Program and the Metro Master Gardener Program, the nine-week Master Vegetarian Program was piloted by Northwest VEG in 2007 to teach interested members of the community about the environmental and epidemiological impact of food choices. Now in its fourth run, the program continues to attract both vegetarians and omnivores by offering thought-provoking lectures and discussion about the science and politics of food.

Master Vegetarian topics include the environmental effects of food choices; organic agriculture; issues on animal agriculture and animal treatment; nutrition; the effects of diet on health and chronic disease; effective communication; and social issues. The program is co-sponsored by People's Food Co-op and the National College of Natural Medicine.

Northwest VEG president, Peter Spendelow, Ph.D., was inspired to develop the Master Vegetarian Program because of the importance of diet in so many environmental and health issues, and the need for the community and policymakers alike to have solid fact-based information on which to base their decisions.

"For example, people are greatly concerned with global warming, but few know that worldwide, we could cut as much as 15% of our production of greenhouse gases simply by eating more sustainably and lower on the food chain," says Spendelow, who works for the Department of Environmental Quality for the State of Oregon.

Building on the success of the Master Vegetarian Program, Northwest VEG introduced the six-week Veg 101 program in the fall of 2008, providing many of the same lectures along with weekly cooking classes covering grains, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and more. Veg 101, as the name implies, is designed primarily for beginners, although even long-term vegetarians and vegans can benefit from this series.

Northwest VEG has made every effort to keep the cost of both programs affordable. The fee for either program is only $50 per person, or $25 for students and people who meet low-income criteria. No prerequisites are required. To register, contact Susan Hanson at 503-521-1941 or  susan@nwveg.org.

VEG 101
Classes will run from 1:30-3:45 PM every Sunday from March 1 to April 12 (no class on April 5). Each class features a one-hour lecture and one-hour cooking class, with samples served. View the complete course description at www.nwveg.org/Veg101_spring2009.html

All Veg 101 classes will be at Beaverton Seventh Day Adventist Church, 14645 SW Davis Rd, Beaverton, OR 97007.

Master Vegetarian Program
Classes will run from 6:45 to 8:45 PM every Tuesday from March 24 to May 19. Each session will feature talks by one or two guest experts, followed by discussion. Two cooking demonstrations are included.

Some Master Vegetarian Program classes will be held at the People's Food Co-op Community Room, 3029 SE 21st, Portland, OR 97202, and others will be held at the National College of Natural Medicine, 049 SW Porter, Portland, OR 97201. There will also be two Saturday field trips. View the complete course description at www.nwveg.org/mvp/mvp4.htm.

Persons completing the Master Vegetarian Program coursework provide valuable service by contributing at least 16 volunteer hours to sharing the information learned or assisting in events or activities as part of their certification. A "Master Vegetarian" certificate will be presented upon completion of training and volunteer work.

Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism
For a discussion of the impact of diet on global warming, see a summary by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at  link to www.fao.org.

About Northwest VEG
Northwest VEG is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) group that supports healthier, more sustainable, compassionate food choices. For more information, visit www.nwveg.org.