Conversation Starts with Listening

by Will McInerney

All too often, we tend to mistake hearing for listening.

Hearing is a physiological process by which sound waves are processed and passed along from our ears to our brains. Listening is a more complicated psychological process by which we comprehend, create meaning, and apply understanding. (2) Listening engages empathy and connection. This process asks us to be introspective and to challenge ourselves. Listening looks like putting your phone away during a conversation. Listening means you are not formulating a rebuttal or counterpoint while the other is talking, rather you are thinking deeply about what they are saying and taking time to process the information.

Listen
“Listen” by Ky. Flikr Creative Commons.

As a community we need to deepen our commitment to whole-heartedly listening to survivors and to the professionals who work and advocate on these issues.

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM). During this month (as well as every other month) it is important that we work to hone our listening skills, foster conversations, and catalyze action.

Relationship violence takes many forms (including but not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, economic, and verbal) and affects a significant percentage of college-aged individuals. (1) RVAM is a time of year when we seek to shine light on this issue and work to create a safer, more accountable, and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, and students.

One way we can do this is by having more open and honest conversations. Through conversation, we seek to elicit action, foster change, and create impact. But when having conversations it’s also important that we take special note to truly listen, especially to those directly affected.

Every year during RVAM, Project Dinah hosts a Speak Out event. During this event, members of the Carolina community read anonymous posting detailing the experiences of survivors. These accounts, collected and archived on the site http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com, are a prime example of the stories we should be listening to, learning from, and considering when discussing relationship violence on our campus. (3)

On October 22nd, a collection of UNC organizations will be hosting a Coffee and Conversation event surrounding Relationship Violence in the Anne Queen Lounge of the Campus Y from 5 to 6:30pm.

A panel of professionals from Student Wellness, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office, Carolina Women’s Center, Compass Center for Women and Children, and the Dean of Students Office will speak and help facilitate group discussions. This is an opportunity for us to engage, to speak, and to challenge our community and ourselves to take tangible steps to reduce violence and listen to survivors.

For more information you can check out the Facebook event page HERE.

RVAM is a month for introspection, for challenging conversations, and for action. Let’s use this opportunity to listen to survivors and engage in constructive dialogue. Join the conversation and let your voice be heard.

If you would like to learn more about active listening and supporting survivors, you can also check out the free online Haven program provided by Student Wellness by clicking HERE.

Check out the RVAM schedule below and click HERE for more UNC RVAM events.

List of events for RVAM 

Sources

  1. http://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/Dating_Abuse_Statistics.pdf
  2. http://study.com/academy/lesson/hearing-vs-listening-importance-of-listening-skills-for-speakers.html
  3. http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com/
  4. http://rvam.web.unc.edu/rvam-event-schedule/

 

Will McInerney has worked with the campus wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity efforts and violence prevention since its inception. He partners with students, faculty, and staff to promote positive, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.

Will is also a writer, performer, and consultant specializing in Middle East and North Africa-based conflict zones. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, American Public Media, and recently at the International Storytelling Center. Will earned his Bachelor of Arts in Peace, War, and Defense from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Violence is a Men’s Issue

When reviewing crime statistics, a simple truth becomes apparent; male-identified individuals commit the VAST majority of all acts of violence in our society.

Yet, another truth remains; the majority of men don’t commit or condone violence. And many men and boys are subjected to some form of violence at the hands of other men. (1)

How do we reconcile these ideas? How do we play a role in reducing violence on our campus and in our communities back home? What are we going to do about this fundamental “men’s issue” that affects us all?

At Carolina there are a TON of resources including staff, faculty, classes, and student groups working to create a safer campus. You can find many of them at the SAFE.UNC.EDU website. (2)

Safe at UNC logo.

One of the resources available at UNC that is aimed directly at male-identified students is The UNC Men’s Project. The UNC Men’s Project is a new initiative started in 2013 that seeks to create opportunities for male-identified students to learn, listen, reflect, and work together to increase men’s involvement in gender equity and violence prevention efforts. The UNC Men’s project works to promote positive, healthy, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.

The UNC Men’s Project recruits a core group of men on campus to participate in a 10-session program each semester that explores a spectrum of masculinities, examines how our own stories are shaped by masculinity, and gives participants the tools and knowledge to become peer allies, leaders, and educators in violence prevention and gender equity efforts at UNC.

Applications for the Fall Semester Men’s Project Cohort are Due September 22ndClick here to APPLY.

men's project

You should consider applying if you are interested in: 

  • joining a network of male-identified individuals interested in talking about masculinity and promoting positive masculinities;
  • gaining leadership skills;
  • learning about the impact of masculinity on ourselves and our society;
  • exploring your own story; and
  • becoming a trained ally and peer educator.

The UNC Men’s Project is committed to using an intersectional approach to discussing masculinity, and working with a diverse group of men who identify across the spectrum of sexuality and who come from different class, ability, racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

All currently enrolled male-identified UNC students (graduate and undergraduate) are welcome and encouraged to apply. (3)

To learn more about the UNC Men’s Project, check out their Website and consider applying today!

To learn more about all the other resources on campus that are working towards creating a safer and more equitable community, check out the Safe at UNC website.

With the leadership and support of a spectrum of groups, departments, and programs at UNC, let’s make this new school year a safer, more equitable, and inclusive experience for everyone.

Sources

  1. http://www.umass.edu/wost/syllabi/spring03/ToughGuise.pdf
  2. http://www.safe.unc.edu
  3. https://studentwellness.unc.edu/our-services/violence-prevention/unc-mens-project

The Silence Surrounding Men’s Health

This week is National Men’s Health Week and a perfect time for male-identified individuals at UNC to make sure health and wellness are a top priority in their daily lives.

Keyboard with health button highlighted in bright green.
Health by Got Credit, Flickr, Creative Commons.

According to the National Center for Disease Control, Men’s Health Week is a time when men should remember to: get good sleep, toss out the tobacco, move more, eat healthy, tame stress, get regular medical checkups, and make sure you have affordable healthcare.

But in addition to these more commonly discussed health priorities for men, it’s also important for men to know about resources that can help them deal some of the more “taboo” or unspoken subjects related to men’s health. For example, issues like eating disorders are rarely openly discussed when it comes to men’s health.

Despite the silence surrounding this issue, according to the National Association for Men with Eating Disorders, one in four individuals with an eating disorder is a man. Men often falsely view eating disorders as issues that “don’t affect them” or see them stereotypically as “women’s issues.” These notions are false, rooted in sexism, and harmful to men.

Issues like eating disorders can be hard for men to talk about openly and honestly. The culture of dominant masculinity teaches men to always act tough and to deny issues that are stereotypically associated with women’s health. This sentiment is deeply detrimental to men’s health and leads many men to feel isolated and alone when dealing with issues of disordered eating.

It’s important that we talk openly and honestly about men’s health and that men on our campus know they have resources available. Let’s work together to support people across the gender spectrum who may be dealing with eating disorders and advocate for a National Men’s Health Week that discusses all the issues of health and wellness that affect men.

UNC Old Well
Phone Pic #66 by Mr. Jincks, Flickr, Creative Commons.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder at UNC, there are resources available to help and support you.

Embody Carolina, a student group whose mission is to “educate students about identifying and supporting someone struggling with an eating disorder,” has a great resource page available on their website with various options for students seeking help or guidance.

Click here to learn about steps you can take to get help today.

Sources

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/
  2. http://namedinc.org/
  3. http://www.embodycarolina.com/

 

 

 

 

NC-Based Spring Break Trips!

After an unusually snowy and icy winter, spring is finally around the corner. Spring break is a much-needed pause from academics and an opportunity to rest, travel, or spend some quality time at home.

Some members of the Carolina family will travel around the country, or even the world, over break, but many students, faculty, and staff will stay planted in and around North Carolina.

Lucky for us, NC offers a rare and beautiful combination of mountains and beaches that make for amazing, quick, simple, and affordable spring break trips.

Below are a couple suggestions you should check out if you are in NC this spring break and looking for something fun and active to do outdoors.

Pisgah National Forest

Nestled in the Western Carolina Mountains near Asheville, Pisgah National Forest is a beautiful 500,000-acre collection of mountains, streams, forests, and waterfalls. Pisgah is a great place for both day hikes and extended camping stays. Available activities include varying difficulties for biking and hiking, as well as camping, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, outdoor learning, and scenic driving amongst many others! If you are looking for a spot to retreat into nature and enjoy the warmer weather, Pisgah is for you!

Looking glass rock surrounded by forests.
“Looking Glass Rock” by Valeri. Flickr Creative Commons.

Hanging Rock State Park

If you are looking for a fun place closer to the Triangle, check out Hanging Rock State Park, north of Greensboro. Hanging Rock offers a collection of exciting trails that wind to the top of the “hanging rock.” The views from the peak are truly breathtaking and are a can’t miss for any North Carolinian. Hanging rock also offers cabins for rent, for those looking to stay a few nights in the woods!

Green Swamp Preserve

Down towards the coast in Brunswick County, you can find a serene spot unlike any other in North Carolina. The Green Swamp Preserve is a collection of winding trails in gorgeous swamp and forest lands. The preserve is home to 14 types of insectivorous plants including Venus flytraps and pitcher plants. In addition, the swamp is home to an array of beautiful orchids and even a population of American Alligators. The Green Swamp Preserve is a memorable stop on any trip to the beach in NC!

Outer Banks

No list of outdoor NC attractions is complete without the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks are a 200-mile strip of barrier islands off the NC coast. Home to the Wright brothers’ first flight, the Roanoke Colony, and vast graveyard of sunken ships in the Atlantic, the Outer Banks is a historical treasure map waiting to be explored. Beautiful beaches and lighthouses span the shores and present countless opportunities for a relaxing and fun spring break. If you go to school or work at UNC and haven’t visited the world famous NC Outer Banks yet, this needs to be on the top of your list!

Black and white Bodie Island Lighthouse during a sunset.
“Bodie Island Lighthouse | Outer Banks, NC” by Zach Frailey. Flickr Creative Commons.

Stay active and enjoy the warmer weather over Spring Break! Post any other NC outdoor attractions you know and love in the comments section and we will be sure to add them to our growing list!

References:

1 http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48114

2 http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/haro/main.php

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/northcarolina/placesweprotect/green-swamp-preserve.xml#thingsToDo

4 http://www.outerbanks.com/

 

Coffee Shops… Everywhere!

The other day I was walking to campus and noticed a change in the landscape. Caribou Coffee is closed! To be specific, the Caribou Coffee on East Franklin Street closed, but the Caribou Coffee on West Franklin Street is still open. This sudden closure of a long-standing student hangout and study spot inspired me to look around at all the other café options we have in our area.

Downtown Chapel Hill, NC on Franklin Street.
“Downtown Chapel Hill” by Tom, Flickr Creative Commons.

Coffee shops are a staple of most college towns, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community is no exception. A simple Google search — or better yet, a stroll around campus down Franklin Street and onto Main Street in Carrboro — reveals a plethora of coffee shop options for students, faculty, and staff alike. Our little slice of North Carolina is a virtual coffee shop metropolis!

After realizing there were so many to choose from, I spent a couple days informally polling folks around the Student Wellness office to see what their favorite spots were in town. There were no clear winners, but lots of great options to choose from. Check out some of the results below!

Cup of coffee surrounded by coffee beans.
“Coffee” by jaci XIII, Flcikr Creative Commons.

When asked who has the best cup of coffee, drip for drip, folks around our office suggested checking out:

Open Eye Café (Carrboro)

Joe Van Gogh (Chapel Hill)

Jessee’s (Carrboro)

When asked what’s the best place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee, including atmosphere, people, and ambiance, our staff likes to frequent:

Caffé Driade (Chapel Hill)

Oasis (Carrboro)

Kipos Greek Taverna (Chapel Hill)

Cafe with barista working.
“Cafe Milo Amsterdam” by Vincicius Rebecchi, Flickr Creative Commons

This is just the tip of the iced-coffee iceberg! There are so many great spots to choose from on campus, in Chapel Hill, and in Carrboro. Let us know your favorite spots in the comments section!

So the next time you are looking for a quick pick-me-up, a savory latte, or just a nice place to relax, study, or hang out with a friend, consider one of our local area’s great selection of coffee shops!

For more information on the health benefits of coffee and other caffeinated drinks check out one of our old blog posts, “Coffee – Good for You?”

For more information on the history of coffee and coffee houses around the world, check out this interesting article from the BBC, “Coffee and qahuwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global.”

Healthy Tips for Waking Up!

Winter break is a much-needed time to relax and catch up on lots of sleep. But as the new semester kicks into gear, early morning classes can leave some of us groggy and half-asleep. Waking up can become increasingly challenging!

Here are a few healthy tips to help you jump out of bed and make it to those early morning classes on time and with energy this semester.

The Basic Approach: Coffee or Tea

For many students, faculty, and staff on campus, caffeine-rich coffee or tea is a staple of the morning routine. If you feel yourself struggling in the morning or falling asleep mid-lecture, a quick trip to one of the local coffee shops around campus may be a necessity on your way to class (or to save money, brew it at home or in the dorm!).

Cup of Coffee
Photo: “Coffee from Tapped & Packed” by Zach Inglis. Flickr Creative Commons.
Cup of Tea
Photo: “Tea” by Laurel F. Flickr Creative Commons.   

In addition to increased productivity and mental clarity, from a health standpoint, coffee and tea offer benefits including a large dose of antioxidants and a decreased likelihood of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Further, people who drink coffee and tea regularly tend to have fewer cases of certain types of cancers and strokes. [1] [2]

Like all things in life, though, moderation is key, and too much of anything tends to lead to trouble.

For more information on the benefits and risks of coffee, check out one of our previous Healthy Heels blogs, “Coffee – Good for You?”

The Alternative: Lemon Water

For those looking for a caffeine-free alternative for the morning rush, try a glass of lemon water. This is not your average little wedge of lemon on the side though; we are talking about pretty intense lemon water here. Try a half lemon for folks under 150lbs and a whole lemon for those above 150lbs in a glass of room temperature water. The taste may take a little time to get used to, but the jolt of energy will be immediately noticeable.

Fresh Lemons
Photo: “Lemon” by Lucas Arrrrgh. Flickr Creative Commons.

In addition to perking your system in the morning, highly concentrated lemon water helps with hydration, stomach issues, and bad breath. Lemon water is also known to freshen your skin, pump up the immune system, and cleanse your liver in the process. [3]

The Hardcore Option: Early Morning Workouts

Nothing gets your mind and body awake quite like a morning workout. For those looking for the ultimate solution to a healthy morning pick-me-up, look no further. Working out in the morning has been shown to increase your mental clarity for 4-10 hours post-workout and tends to give people an all around increase in productivity. It may be a struggle to get yourself out of the bed and into the gym, but if you can muster the strength and have the time, the results can speak for themselves. [4]

Gym.
Photo: “Hotel Gym” by Casa Velas Hotel. Flickr Creative Commons.

Whether it’s coffee, tea, lemon water, a short workout, or even just eating a solid breakfast, start your day off with a healthy kick this semester and ace those early morning classes.

As a Side Note, let’s be clear–you need to sleep! No morning pick-me-up is a replacement for a good night’s rest. Sleep is an uncompromising necessity to your overall health and well-being as a student. For more information about the health benefits of a good night’s rest, and the consequences of sleep deprivation, check out this old Healthy Heels blog: “Missing Impossible: Sleep and the College Student.”

Sources 

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/coffee-health-benefits_n_4102133.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/03/17/lemon-water-benefits_n_4980265.html
  4. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/23/6-benefits-to-being-a-morning-exerciser

 

 

The Chapel Hill in UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC Historical Marker
“UNC Historical Marker” by Will McInerney
UNC Old Well
“UNC Old Well” by Will McInerney

The history of UNC runs deep. Very deep. Established in 1789, UNC is the oldest public university in the nation. Our beautiful and historic campus stretches from the bustling shops and restaurants of Franklin Street to the hallowed steps of South Building, from the Bell Tower to the Old Well, and from Morehead Planetarium to the open green pastures of the quad. UNC’s campus has much to offer our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. But, the UNC community does not stop at our storied and stonewalled perimeter. Part of what makes UNC so special is the city we call home, Chapel Hill.

UNC and Chapel Hill are hard to separate, and in fact the two were created together. At the same time the original UNC Board of Trustees was dreaming up our campus, they organized a group to build an adjacent community, Chapel Hill.

Despite the deep connection between the town and our university, sometimes UNC can feel like a bubble. College life keeps us very busy, but it’s important to take time and to learn about the beautiful, vibrant, and important history and culture that literally surrounds our campus. By learning about this history and culture we will be better students and better community members.

Franklin Street
“Franklin Street” by Will McInerney

Below are a couple of organizations and resources that can help you learn more about the place UNC calls home, Chapel Hill.

The Center for the Study of the American South

Located at the Love House on Franklin Street, The Center for Study of the American South is an amazing campus resource for learning about the history of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the American South as a whole. The Center offers a range of resources in print and digital formats that paint a vivid picture of Chapel Hill’s history. Check out the Center’s Southern Oral History Program to find a vast collection of powerful and insightful stories that document the history and culture of Chapel Hill.

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

The Jackson Center is located next to St. Josephs’ CME Church on Rosemary Street, at the gateway to the historic Northside community in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center is a public history and community development non-profit that works in the historically African American Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods of Chapel Hill. Their aim is “to listen, to hear, and to preserve the life stories of residents, neighbors, and friends.” All too often these stories are forgotten, undervalued, and placed aside. The Jackson Center, in collaboration with the community, brings these valuable stories to the spotlight and advocates for community based leadership, growth, and vision in our town. Check out some oral histories from long-time Chapel Hill residents on their website and consider volunteering if you want to help out.

The Chapel Hill Historical Society

Located on Franklin Street just past the Love House and the Center for the Study of the American South, The Chapel Hill Historical Society is a local institution dedicated to researching, documenting, and sharing Chapel Hill’s history. Programs and publications offered by the Historical Society cover a range of issues spanning from the Civil Rights Movement in our town to the array of famous local cuisine. Check out the videos from the Historical Society’s recent event where they helped Merritt’s Store and Grill celebrate its 85th anniversary by detailing the history and culture of this local foodie legend.

Preservation Chapel Hill

Preservation Chapel Hill is located in the famous Horace Williams House on Franklin Street and is dedicated to “protecting the character and heritage of the town of Chapel Hill, and the surrounding community, through the preservation and conservation of its historical building and cultural landscapes.” Preservation Chapel Hill does this through a combination of educational programs, advocacy work, and physical preservation of buildings. Check out the organizations huge collection of historical documents and records available for public viewing and research purposes at their offices.

UNC Sign
“UNC Sign” by Will McInerney

P.S. The history of Chapel Hill evolves everyday! In addition to The Daily Tar Heel, be sure to stay informed with local news by checking out ChapelBoro and The Chapel Hill News.

 

 

What’s Up with HeForShe and It’s On Us?

Recently, two large campaigns have been launched around the issue of violence prevention. The United Nations kicked off the HeforShe campaign, and the White Houses launched its own Its On Us initiative. These two projects are gaining a lot of print and social media buzz.

HeForShe is a UN-led global effort to engage men in violence prevention discourse and action. The project asks men to commit to the idea that “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” (www.heforshe.org)

UN Flag
“Flag of the United Nations” by dirc, Flickr Creative Commons
White House
“The White House” by Shubert Ciencia, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its On Us is a White House-led nationwide campaign that focuses on reducing sexual violence on college campuses. The initiative asks people to pledge to “Recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. And to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” (www.itsonus.org)

Both campaigns mentioned have used celebrity star power to push their messages forward. The UN brought in Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, and the White House has a long list of celebs including Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, and President Obama himself. I hope this increased media attention will allow campaigns like these to bring a greater awareness, and a more active resistance, to all forms of violence.

HeForShe
“UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign Special Event” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Additionally, it is both refreshing and reassuring to see campaigns directly (HeForShe) and indirectly (Its On Us) challenge men to be accountable for the violent patriarchal society we live in. That being said, I hope they continue to push for men’s active participation in violence prevention, men’s active resistance to violent masculinity, and men’s active deconstruction of male privilege. The latter, privilege, is all too easy and convenient for men to forget.

Male privilege must be explored, re-explored, and actively resisted at both the individual and societal levels as we work toward true gender equity and violence prevention. Signing a pledge online is not good enough. Not even close. Those who identify toward the male-identified end of the gender spectrum, especially cisgender men, must be held accountable for the culture and society for which we have both greatly benefited from, and actively and passively constructed.

UN Women's Day 2014
“International Women’s Day 2014: Equality for women is progress for all” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Although these campaigns are certainly are not perfect and could benefit from constructive criticism and more direct engagement from leaders in the movement, I am encouraged and cautiously excited to see them  forming on such large and visible stages. That being said, as more men join this cause—which is fundamentally their responsibility—I hope we keep the conversation about privilege at the forefront. All too often men are over-praised and over-compensated for work they should have been doing in the first place and for work that women, and particularly women of color, have been doing for a long time without proper recognition.

A violence prevention movement with men engaged that does not actively resist and deconstruct male privilege is hollow and ineffective.

HeForShe and Its On Us are a step in a positive direction, but that does not mean we shouldn’t continue to challenge, build, and grow with them. Keeping the deconstruction of male privilege at the forefront is just one of several issues that should and already have been addressed. Some more issues include: How are these movements inclusive to the spectrum of genders outside of the false male-female binary? How are these movements acknowledging the tremendous and courageous work that has come before them? How are intersectionality and identity politics being infused into all of this anti-oppression work? And what about the male survivors of men’s violence—are their voices being heard and included?

UNC Men's Project Logo
UNC Men’s Project. Logo designed by Garrett Ivey.

Let’s continue the conversation and push for holistic, equitable, and authentic violence prevention. If you are a male-identified student and interested in these issues, consider applying to the UNC Men’s Project. The UNC Men’s Project is a campus-wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity and violence prevention through experiential learning, creative practice, and fellowship. You can find more information with the link below.

 Applications are available online at www.uncmensproject.com and are due by Midnight on Friday, October 3rd 

The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Town!

I’ve lived in Chapel Hill my whole life. Well… kind of… I was born in Orange County in the Bingham Township, but I had a Chapel Hill mailing address even thought I didn’t actually live in Chapel Hill. Technically I lived in Carrboro for a while too, but not in the official city limits, in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) area… I’m going to stop now.

Complicated municipal and county governance boundaries aside, let’s talk about something I know very well: local food, and specifically, the local vegetarian restaurant scene.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years. There are a lot of reasons why I made the switch, but one of my biggest motives was a desire to be healthier.

According to the American Dietetic Association, a vegetarian diet can lower your risk for a range of health-related conditions including “Heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension (high blood pressure)” among others.

That being said, being vegetarian does not automatically equate to a healthier life. I know plenty of unhealthy vegetarians and have seen many unhealthy vegetarian eating habits. Like all diets, in order to stay healthy, you have to maintain balance, listen to your body, and be conscious about what you eat.

Cooking vegetarian food is an art, and deserves it’s own blog post. For today, let’s start with the fun (albeit at times very expensive) stuff—eating out!

Photo (vegetarian sub) by (geishabot), Flickr Community Commons
Photo (vegetarian sub) by (geishabot), Flickr Community Commons

Over the years I have compiled the following list of my favorite healthy vegetarian restaurants close to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (Click on the name of each restaurant for information about their address, hours, and menus.)

Franklin Street

Vimala’s Curryblossom Café

Vimala’s offers a home-style South Indian cuisine cooked to perfection with vegetarian options galore. You can’t go wrong with the Vegetarian Curry Thali, a large sample platter full of fresh veggies, curries, and delicious assortments.

Mediterranean Deli

Med Deli offers a HUGE variety of Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean foods that will tempt your taste buds. Check out the Mujaddara, a Palestinian lentil dish cooked with rice and onions that tastes amazing and fills you up.

Lime and Basil

Lime and Basil is a small Vietnamese restaurant boasting a full vegetarian menu and an amazing selection of Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. I recommend the Vegetarian Broth Pho with Tofu. For $8 you will easily get two meals out of this GIANT bowl of warm and delicious soup.

Cosmic Cantina

A Chapel Hill classic, no list is complete without Cosmic. This local Mexican restaurant is open at what seems like all hours of the day, and offers good, cheap, vegetarian friendly food. While I will admit it may not be the healthiest option on this list, a $3 Veggie Burrito is a great deal that you can’t refuse.

Carrboro

Weaver Street Market

Another local classic, Weaver Street Market offers a great Salad Bar (both hot and cold) with freshly baked bread, sushi, and much more. If you are looking for a hearty vegetarian salad, this is your place. The salad bar cost is associated with weight, so a strategic vegetarian can pile on the fresh light greens, vegetables, and proteins for a great meal at a good price.

The Spotted Dog

If you are looking for a nice sit-down lunch, check out The Spotted Dog. Located right across from Weaver Street Market, this locally owned restaurant prides itself in featuring a vegetarian, healthy, and organic-centered menu. I love the Lunch Special with a small house salad, a grilled pita sandwich, and a side of tabouli.

Special Side Note

Carrboro Farmers’ Market

While this blog post has been focusing on dinning out, one of the keys to maintaining a healthy diet is learning to cook your own meals. Cooking at home will save you TONS of money, and is both a practical and necessary life skill. The best place to get fresh and affordable vegetarian food to cook is the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Check out this awesome local institution and stock up on fresh foods you can cook in your home or dorm room.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the amazing vegetarian food you can find in and around the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, but I hope it’s a good start. Being a vegetarian is a great way to eat healthy, but there are lots of other ways as well. It’s really about being conscience and intentional about what you eat. It’s about finding balance and listening to your body. I encourage everyone, vegetarian or not, to check out the restaurants above, support local businesses, and try to eat healthy this week!