With so much focus on food during the holiday season, it is easy to forget about the vegans among us. It can be a time of temptation and anxiety when you’re a vegan surrounded by non-vegans. Whether you’re a vegan or catering for a vegan at a dinner party, there are plenty of ways how to keep healthy eating habits intact whilst celebrating joyfully nonetheless.
You don’t need to look at your calendar to realise it’s December. Just enter any supermarket or store filled with endless promotions, chocolates and ready-made Christmas
goods. The festive season is renowned for celebrations which typically revolve around eating and drinking. It is also known for those extra pounds gained. Once the Christmas tree is down, it’s back to reality and you find it hard to squeeze into those skinny jeans which once fit you perfectly. Well hey, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be this way!
Nowadays, people are becoming more health-conscious and the idea of following a vegan diet is becoming more ‘fashionable’, whether it is due to health reasons, animal
cruelty, or for the sake of how meat consumption affects the environment. You don’t need to be a vegan to eat healthily as everyone has their own personal opinions. However, studies have proven that a vegan plant based diet supports digestion, immunity, anti-aging, weight loss, energy levels and one’s overall wellbeing. This is something which I have experienced myself. After becoming vegan, I realised that my skin and hair have become healthier, my energy levels have increased and I honestly cannot remember the last time I was sick!
Luckily enough, today there are endless websites, local food blogs, YouTube channels, home chefs and health food stores which will happily provide vegan treats or help you out with recipes and ideas (one of my favourites is onegreenplanet). The Christmas holidays are a great way to start including a vegan meal in your traditional lunch from simply swapping butter for coconut oil, which even though is a fat, it is actually a healthy fat. So for those who may already follow a vegan diet, it’s time to put on your apron and get creative by sharing a flavoursome, hearty homemade vegan meal! Those who have
never eaten a vegan meal, try it out! It is cheaper and a great way to get creative in the kitchen and to try something new! You don’t even need to worry about your meat not being cooked well!
Most people believe that following a vegan diet means endless food limitations and living on salad for the rest of your life. I’m here to tell you that this is absolute nonsense. Following a vegan diet simply means eliminating animal products such as red and white meat and dairy, and replacing it with mushrooms, aubergines, tofu, nuts, beans and lentils – which, by the way, are great sources of protein and fibre, and are less strenuous on the
digestive system (whereas meat can take up to eight hours to be digested causing bloating and indigestion).
‘No dairy? So where do you get your calcium from?’ Leafy greens have more nutrients than you think! Bok choy, kale and chard are packed with essential nutrients. Dried figs, green
bean, okra, linseeds, chia seeds, tahini and almonds are also very reliable sources of calcium.
For all those who are wondering… Yes vegans do get to eat sweets and chocolate, some of which are healthy and some, not so healthy. Nowadays there are many local home chefs
who create vegan and gluten free goods that can be delivered right to your doorstep! You can also make chocolate yourself from cacao butter, cacao powder and agave syrup! If you are not a fan of chocolate, fruit is always a natural option provided by nature (best to eat before a main meal for optimum digestion!).
Healthy eating during the holidays is not impossible and does not need to be a struggle or a punishment either! Of course, it is easy to fall into temptation when you are surrounded by unhealthy food and meat dishes (especially when you are used to eating that type of food), however this can be fixed! Host your own dinner party and whip up a vegan meal such as a whole roasted cauliflower or a butternut squash and tofu roast! If you are invited for dinner, offer to take your own dish… after all Christmas is about sharing and giving, right? Invited out to eat? No problem! Call up the restaurant before hand and advise them that you are vegan. If you are going to a party, eat a filling meal before hand to avoid nibbling unhealthy finger food or binging after the party. You can also find a friend who
is also trying to reduce meat consumption and make healthier, conscious choices. Use each other for support and motivation, it is always helpful to have someone to talk to if you ever feel like giving up… especially when everyone else is indulging in dairy, meat and highly processed, unhealthy foods!
Make conscious food choices and be confident that whatever you are consuming is good for your health. I always ask myself if what I am eating is beneficial or detrimental to my health. Not everyone may understand why you would choose to follow a plant based diet or why you would opt to eat healthily during the festive season, a time when you close an eye for that second helping. Others may look up to you and become motivated to do the same! Do not change your path towards a healthy, conscious lifestyle with the excuse of Christmas, or let others influence you through their questioning and different mentality. It is your body and you are capable of listening to what you need and whatever is best for yourself. Do not start on Monday (that diet never starts on Monday)…start today, start NOW.
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Martina Camilleri