The AccidentalVegetarian

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Story for Be Fit BR on June Pulliam and how she stays fit. Need her in a yoga pose. She wants to stand on her head.Photo shot on Wednesday April 24, 2013, in Baton Rouge.
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Special Sections editor

June Pulliam is a vegetarian, but it wasn’t really a conscious choice that took meat out of her diet.

Pulliam grew up in the Midwest, where there’s lots of pork, pork and more pork.

But no longer does the 50-year-old LSU English instructor dine on chops and steaks.

“It was a gradual evolution,” says Pulliam, who has called Baton Rouge home since 1978.

She attributes her change in diet along with her active lifestyle to helping her stay fit and in better shape than lots of her 20-year-old students.

Pulliam says during her formative years her family ate three squares a day, and there was always some part of the pig on the table.

“We had it at every meal … and lots of it,” says Pulliam.

About a decade ago, Pulliam who calls herself “picky about food,” decided she didn’t like the taste of meat after it had been in the freezer.

“I was finding that I had to go to the store almost everyday,” she says. “So I stopped eating meat, and I lost a few pounds. Then I stopped eating poultry, and I lost a few more pounds. Then I stopped eating seafood, and I continued to drop.”

Her weight went from 160 pounds to about 130 pounds today, she says.

Pulliam makes the distinction that she is a vegetarian, not a vegan, someone who eliminates all animal products from his or her diet, including dairy.

“I eat eggs,” she says. “I have chickens in my backyard, so I have fresh eggs. And I eat cheese and drink milk, although these days it’s mostly almond milk.”

The revision to her eating habits opened new diet avenues.

“I’ve always been an adventurous eater,” she says, “and being vegetarian has made me more so.”

She likes to cook Indian foods and those with strong Mexican flavors, such as vegetarian tacos made with mushrooms, roasted hot peppers, sweet peppers and cheese. A vegetarian burger at The Chimes makes for a good meal, she says, or a baked potato loaded with cheese, butter and low-fat sour cream.

“I snack during the day, but not on junk food,” she says. “And I keep ice cream in the freezer, I just don’t eat it for dinner.”

In addition to a healthier eating, Pulliam stays active.

She has done lots of different exercises over the years, and says when she gets bored, she moves on to something new.

A few years back, Pulliam says she really got into lifting weights, but injured her neck when, like a lot of people, she did the exercises without guidance or instruction.

“For the past few years I’ve been taking classes at UREC (LSU’s recreation center),” she says, counting swimming and spinning classes among her favorites.

She does yoga at Mulanada Yoga on West Chimes and bikes to her LSU job on most days.

“It takes me about 20 or 30 minutes to get here from Spanish Town,” she says of her commute, adding that showers at UREC make it possible to get cleaned up before class.

Pulliam says yoga and biking are great stress relievers.

“Yoga allows me to center myself, to achieve a feeling of peace,” she says. “Biking relieves stress, too. It’s just nice to blast past all those cars stalled in traffic.”

She says she also likes taking her dog on neighborhood walks, which not only is good exercise, but helps you connect with others in your community and keep an eye out for suspicious activities.

“I really just try to incorporate activity into my life,” says Pulliam, noting she rarely takes the elevator and does her own yard work.

“I have a cleaning lady,” she says with a laugh, “but I do cut my own grass.”

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