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Healthy Habits Heroes: Martin Oswald and Dawn Shepard

Photo: Matt Nager
Vegetable-based cooking is so delicious that you may find yourself eating a meat-free meal every day. Our heroes this month share their top tips for embracing meatless meals.

Twenty-seven years of opening, running, and working in restaurant kitchens left Martin Oswald exhausted and borderline obese. Realizing the unhealthy future he faced, Martin took time off in 2010 to turn things around. He adopted a plant-based diet, shed 35 pounds, and opened Pyramid Bistro, a nutrition-focused café inside Aspen, Colorado's beloved Explorer Bookstore.

Martin's restaurant provided the ideal lunch spot for Dawn Shepard, a personal trainer in Aspen, and the members of the Healthy Readers Book Club. "Two years ago, we had just finished reading The China Study [a 2005 book that looks at the relationship between eating animal-based foods and increased disease risk] and were talking about how nutrition is a big part of preventing the rise of illness," Dawn says. She then told the group about the Meatless Monday movement, which began about 10 years ago and continues to build. "I explained that it was aimed at getting people to reduce meat consumption by 15% for personal health and for the environment," Dawn says.

The group began writing letters and encouraging local organizations to adopt the meat-free-Monday idea. Martin jumped in and asked local chefs to provide at least one vegetarian entrée each Monday. Local schools and the hospital got on board, and before long, Dawn and Martin were able to have Aspen designated as the first Meatless Monday community by the Meatless Monday organization.

"It's a wonderful concept because it's an easy step to take to do something healthy and good for your body," Martin says.