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Vegan for the Holidays

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VegParadise Media Reviews

Change Your Food, Change Your Life

By Jill Ovnik

DVD, 2005

In her youth Jill Ovnik described herself as a "fat girl." " I used to feel FAT all the time," she says. "I got sick a lot; had skin rashes, sinus infections, acne, headaches, acid reflux, hives, painful menstrual cramps, and sleep problems."

After a "picture-of-health friend" encouraged her to read about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, she discovered that plant foods were good for her, but animal foods were not. Thirty-something Ovnik, the mother of three children, decided to go vegetarian and then vegan. Seven years later she is thirty pounds lighter and has left many of her health problems behind.

To help others improve their health, Ovnik, who now calls herself Vegan gal.com, decided to share her discoveries in an informative DVD called Change Your Food, Change Your Life. She has also established an informative website at http://www.vegangal.com that includes streaming film clips from the DVD, recipes, recommended books to read, links to other related websites, as well as a sign-up to receive her monthly newsletter. Jill Ovnik, Vegangal.com

The DVD begins with To Clog or Not to Clog referring to the arteries that become clogged on an animal-based diet. In this segment Ovnik appears before a woman's group to speak about her favorite subject, food. In this half-hour presentation she details many of the arguments for adopting a plant-based diet and recounts her own road to better health.

Getting Started, Gettting Organized focuses on developing a weekly menu plan with suggestions for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. All the meals involve simple preparation with many refrigerated and frozen foods that can be purchased. Ovnik suggests making a weekly menu plan and then creating a shopping list based on that plan.

In Grocery Shopping the viewer accompanies Ovnik as she wheels around a supermarket at exaggerated speed. With enthusiasm she shows meat substitutes available and makes suggestions for possible meal ideas. She even pauses to talk to another shopper who is looking for alternative hot dogs for her husband. Ovnik explains that these products are helpful to people transitioning to vegetarianism.

Continuing her shopping adventure in a health food store, Ovnik recommends coffee substitutes and herbal tea as well as milk substitutes. "Shopping organic is good," she says, pointing out that organic foods do not contain genetically modified organisms and are not irradiated. As she samples the frozen waffles, she exclaims, "Stick with me. We'll do it together."

Ovnik presents valuable advice for coping with restaurants that may not offer vegetarian selections. She demonstrates how to order breakfast, lunch, and dinner in non-vegetarian restaurants. By communicating her limitations to the server and asking for substitutions, she is able to enjoy a satisfying dining experience.

Watching Ovnik, we envied her for finding an Italian restaurant that could produce the delicious vegan items she was served in the dinner segment of the video. We realized that she would not eat that quantity of food herself but just wanted to show the number of options that were available.

The 80-minute DVD, featuring eye-appealing graphics and soft/listenable music, concludes with Ovnik preparing three recipes that could be assembled in minutes using a food processor. Joining her in the kitchen, the viewer witnesses the creation of Chickpea Smash, Nacho Bake, and Orange Pudding.

In Change Your Food, Change Your Life Jill Ovnik energetically communicates on a person-to-person level to help people transition to a healthier vegan diet. She addresses the viewer, not as a health professional, but as a layperson trying to assist others in improving their health in the same way she was successful in helping herself. She not only explains the why of a vegan diet, but also presents practical suggestions for the newcomer to make the process easier. Best of all, slim, trim Jill is an ideal poster woman to advocate the vegan diet.

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