How are you feeling about your festive season food and family gatherings this year?
For the first time this year I’ve started to feel a little nervous about Christmas.
Generally I’m lucky enough to LOVE Christmas. To me it’s precious family time and it’s also the only time of year I get really super awesome at being lazy! However this year – as I’ve devoted more time to animal rights activism I’ve felt my boundaries shifting so far as the non vegan behaviour I’m comfortable witnessing.
I think I’ve seen my last Big Aussie BBQ. (unless of course it’s flesh free and abundant with plant based deliciousness)
I find myself covering my nose and shielding my eyes as I scuttle through the meat sections of supermarkets.
And I feel physically sick at the early morning sausage sizzle that is sadly served to our young surf lifesavers at nippers.
So what does this mean for the traditional big family Christmas day lunch I look forward to each year?
In todays show let’s chat Vegan Festive Season Food and Sanity Savers PLUS Month In Review.
I’ll also chat a little exercise and I’ll share what’s been rockin this past month and what’s been a tad more struggle street. Above all, my intention is to make this content applicable to YOU and creating and keeping a fit, healthy plant strong body.
On the matter of FOOD: I going to share both my fav vegan festive season deliciousness and the tips I’ll be deploying to stay sane and hopefully plant a few vegan seeds while still keeping the calm with my 100% NON-vegan family.
First up, the low hanging fruit:
Do you know what’s a really easy sell? TASTE and ABUNDANCE! Here are my top 3 tips:
One: Pick an amazing vegan recipe to share at Christmas lunch or take to a picnic / BBQ / wherever… that everyone will want to eat.
- Desserts are generally easy wins.They tend to have so much more nutritional value than the traditional refined sugar, butter and dairy versions too.
- Super abundant salads are also a great option.I always try to introduce my fam to new ingredients in my salads like: dry fried stone fruit, baked edamame or spicy chickpeas, roasted brussels or kale crisps.
Two: Buy delicious vegan condiments. Generally I’m a strong advocate for whole foods plant based however especially over the festive season when perhaps you’re staying with family or at a hotel. Or perhaps it’s just extra busy and the kitchen is extra full… then this is the time to pick your battles and indulge in scrumptious condiments that save time and are likely to impress your loved ones. Some of my favs are:
- ‘Follow your heart’ Veganaise
- ‘No Udder’ Coconut Yoghurt, and well I’m just assuming this will become a fav when I try it this year (!)…
- Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.
Three Get creative with lazy leftover lusciousness! The benefits to this tip are numerous. First, who wants to spend excess time in the kitchen? Equally, it’s good to not waste food right? Additionally, I find my family respond best when my “vegan-ness” is not some massive time eating – kitchen dominating – extra trip to the shops creating Drama! They just want it to happen simply and easily and (as I’m in “Lazy Kate” mode over Christmas) so do I. To excel at lazy leftover lusciousness I recommend:
- Bring some protein pimps on holiday with you if traveling so you can turn leftovers into a more balanced meal with just a simple scatter of: Hemp, Chia or pumpkin seeds. Nutritional yeast. Dulse flakes. Plant based protein powder.
- When making your own meals – make ON MASS! A big batch of tempeh or mixed bean chili can be devoured on toast or wraps, in cos leaf taco’s, in kale crisp nachos or with an assortment of sides as a buddha bowl.
- When someone else is making anything vegan – politely inquire if they can make a little extra. If mum’s roasting veg I always get in the kitchen to help her out and ensure there will be leftovers to have in my salads or tofu scrambles the next couple of days. Equally if something is vegan at some point before meat, dairy, eggs or fish are added ask if you can put some aside. I do this with mums spaghetti bolognese It’s amazing before she adds the meat. I could literally have it every night served over a bed of field mushroom, asparagus, broccoli and peeled zucchini (all baked w coconut oil, salt & rosemary). I then add some nutritional yeast + kalamata olives + marinated artichoke. Next the veg sauce & finally some coconut yoghurt!
For your further eating pleasure here’s a post from Peta on 20 Life-Changing Vegan Condiments:
I also want to give a big shout out to a couple of online influencers who’s food looks incredible. Gaz Oakley is Avant Garde Vegan on Instagram and You Tube. His new cookbook Vegan Christmas looks stunning!
Dana is the Minimalist Baker who shares: “Plant-based recipes requiring 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.” Brilliant right? At minimalist baker.com Dana has an amazing post on: 126 Vegan Christmas Recipes.
Next, ask your family members to be vegan allies:
This is a concept I discuss in show E552: Dr Melanie Joy, Carnism and Creating Effective Communication Between Vegans and Non-vegans.
Dr Melanie Joy is a Harvard educated social psychologist and vegan activist, perhaps best known for coining the term carnism. Carnism is the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals. I’m going to link to show 552 in the show notes and if you can I really suggest you invite your loved ones who don’t understand how important your vegan lifestyle is to you to check out Dr Joy.
I first discovered Dr Joy via her amazing TED talk (ranked in the top 1% of viewed TED talks) titled: Towards Rational Authentic Food Choices.(which I’ll also link to). Being a vegan ally is meeting halfway. It’s been my experience that loved ones are much more receptive to hearing this explained by a world recognized – super articulate – social psychologist… enter Dr Joy. I was beyond excited to receive supportive messages from my mum, my dad and one of my closest friends after they listened to show #552.
From my dad: “Dr Melanie is a seriously impressive person no question. I especially liked her practical / realistic thoughts as to how best to advance the cause.
She put me somewhat in mind of the Dalai Lama in the gentle but firm way in which she expressed her beliefs & her thoughts. The precise, measured & scientific approach of a Dr of psychology to such a topic was much in evidence.
Whilst I’m not a “convert” I’m happy, in accord with mum, to be a vegan ally”
Now that might not sound super impressive however Dad and I have been known to fire up at the dinner table to such an extent where my poor mum is near tears and Dad deems the topic off limits and shuts down any further attempts at calm conversation on my behalf.
From a dear friend: “Hi babe. I listened to your Melanie Joy podcast this morning and i loved it. I will definitely be your vegan ally babe. I definitely can see the world through your eyes now xxx”
Finally, your personal standards / coping and debriefing strategies.
I know festive season family gatherings can be stressful irrespective of what you choose to eat. Here are a few of the strategies I’ll be leaning on structured around the format of before, during and after.
Before: Decide on your personal standards in advance. This is something I recommend in my 6 Step Survival Blueprint to be fit and healthy over Christmas and the New Year. I’m actually going to re-release an updated (even more vegan-ised!) version of this blueprint in podcast format later this month so please subscribe in iTunes or wherever you listen to Healthification so you don’t miss it! Back to those standards… you know how sometimes a decision or situation can be thrust upon you and perhaps you don’t act as calmly and as non-judgementally as you’d like? Or maybe you set aside your values for the sake of peace?
Thinking through a few likely to occur scenarios in advance and deciding your non-negotiable personal standards will help eliminate unnecessary grief. Here are a few examples in relation to Vegan Festive Season Food and Sanity Savers:
- If you’re the vegan in a non-vegan family decide whether you’re comfortable picking up animal products for family members when for example you’re doing a trip to the supermarket.Or even a coffee run. Or whatever if you’re treating the fam to a meal out? If you’re not – then it’s important to get clear on how you can communicate why you’ve made this choice in a clear and non-judgemental manner.
- Decide whether you’re going to engage in potentially hostile conversations (about your food choices) or whether it’s best left to another time.Zero judgement here – however I’ve learnt I can’t be half hearted in such conversations so I’d rather be all in and it’s best to save that conversation to not around the dinner table!
- Decide your restaurant / eating out strategy. Currently mine is to ring the restaurant in advance to give them the heads up I’m vegan and check that they have suitable options. It saves a lengthy conversation once you arrive.
During: Remove yourself from situations that are super tough to cope with. For me this is going to look like, going for a short walk while the ham is being glazed. And again while the turkey is being carved. Sometimes this might also be removing yourself from a conversation you know will not end well. Family gatherings exemplify: “Would you rather be right or happy?” There are so many opportunities to drop vegan truth bombs however sadly those we love most are very-super-often NOT the most receptive to hearing these brutal belief challenging truths.
After: Prioritize those activities that regularly make you feel positive, happy and healthy. This might be chatting to or hanging out with friends who share similar values. Meditating or exercising in nature. Journaling really helps me if I feel like I have a lot of thoughts thrashing round in my mind. Finally, although I’m not usually a fan of using food as a reward, you might also indulge in a delicious vegan dessert.
EXERCISE: The holiday season is the perfect time to have a little (PLANNED) deviation from your normal training regime. To be clear I 100% do not mean to just let it all go! More-so, if you’re prone to the obsessive (such as myself) then how about taking a week or 2 to mix it up.
For those of us that love to lift heavy weights 5 days a week that might mean walking, running and body weight moves instead.
Or maybe if you’ve been meaning to get into a weights routine at the gym, this could be the perfect opportunity?
Potentially the festive season is a fab time to try a new hobby (like paddle boarding) or revisit something you loved as a kid (elastics?!!).
Here’s the body weight and almost equipment free routine I’ll be doing once or twice a week in Noosa.
- Chin up (6 reps)
- Walk-out (6 reps each side)
- Sumo in out jump squat (12 reps)
- Walking lunge (12 + 12 reps)
- Dip (12 reps)
- Side plank with elbow to knee + hip dip + toe tap (8 reps each side)
Let’s move on to my recommendation this month. Now this might sound weird however it’s really working for me! I recommend finding an alarm ring tone that’s as enjoyable as possible to wake up to. A bit of back story first. For years I’ve jolted out of bed to Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” Now this (in hindsight) really wasn’t sending to best message to my brain. I trialled a lot of other options and eventually stuck with Eminem however I found a much more chilled instrumental version of “Lose Yourself” that eases me into my day rather throwing me into battle at 4.10am each morning!
Talking struggle-street? I’m going to say balls in the air. Too many of them that is. I know this isn’t a unique problem so hopefully the advice I’m taking will be of value to you too. I’ve written so many posts related to Overwhelm however here’s a recap of one of my favs where I get my acronym on. It’s podcast #442 9 Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics:
One: Only focus on what you can control.
Two: Value your daily progress and small wins.
Three: Eliminate unnecessary inputs.
Four: Respect structure is freedom.
Five: Willingness to constantly upgrade the (freedom creating!) structure and routines you design for yourself.
Six: Have the sensory acuity to know when your focus is scattered or has slipped to that which you can’t control.
Seven: Escape to nature at least weekly.
Eight: Lock and Load the big rocks that keep you happy and healthy.
For more detail on each of those tactics here’s a link to show 442:
Finally, who’s inspiring me? Right now it’s an absolute legend of the Sydney activism scene. I truly have so much respect for this gent, Andy Faulkner and that’s why I’m interviewing him for the podcast – likely in the very next show later this week. Andy has such a skill at building rapport with anyone and everyone. Equally impressive he’s always absolutely chocka full of positive energy. I don’t know if he goes home each day and collapses in an exhausted heap though I suspect he does not.
I genuinely think he’s just crazy committed to the mission of creating a vegan world.
I look forward to sharing my chat with Andy with you soon. On the matter of sharing, and of getting actionable… do you have any vegan festive season deliciousness you’d like to share? Perhaps your fav recipe to impress non-vegan friends and fam? Or that special condiment that really is a game changer? Maybe a creative suggestion for lazy leftover lusciousness?! I’d love to hear from you! Either via the show notes, via email email@example.com or via the socials – strongbodygreenplanet on both Facebook and Insta.
That’s it for today in Healthification.
Huge heartfelt thanks to you for your support and for sharing this time with me.
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Till next time, remember Creating a body and life you love is Freedom. (If this ex-carb queen, non genetically gifted, naturally uncoordinated vegan chick can do it – so can YOU!!!)
If you liked “Vegan Festive Season Food and Sanity Savers PLUS Month In Review” you’ll also like: 6 Keys To Escape The Junk Food Vegan Epidemic:
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