words by Molly Jennings

I am so delighted to say we are only one week away from Christmas! With that in mind, H&H wants to challenge you to go vegan for the week before Christmas. We were so inspired by JayZ and Beyonce going vegan recently for 22 days that we wanted to jump on the bandwagon too! Here at H&H, we know the many benefits of being vegan and most of our recipes follow that (with the exception of a few chicken and fish dishes). On the 25th, a lot of us will be sitting down to a Christmas roast turkey with all the trimmings, so this week we want to encourage you to do a little vegan detox before the retox! Here’s what you need to know!

What does a Vegan diet look like?
A vegan diet is very much plant based. We’re talking plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as complex carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat. It excludes any animal and animal bi products, meat, dairy and eggs – and yes, that includes cheese!

Why do people decide to go vegan?
People choose a vegan lifestyle for many reasons. For some people it’s to do with their health like a dairy allergy or digestive problems, others find that veganism comes into their lives through curiosity and experimental dieting to try and help a particular condition or illness they have. People also opt for a vegan diet because of their ethical reasons towards animals and how they are farmed.

What are the benefits of a Vegan diet?
There are many reported benefits of going vegan. I know so many people who made the move to vegan living simply because it really helped ease their severe IBS symptoms! Others report significant rises in energy levels, decrease in colds and the flu and some even find their depressive symptoms subside. This might be because vegans tend to have more of an alkaline diet. Meat and animal bi-products are very acidic to the human body and can make us feel extremely tired and lethargic, cold, stressed and bloated.

But what about protein?
Ah, the protein discussion. For many people, the word protein itself plants an image of body builders tucking in to whopping great portions of steak. Meat is the stereotype example of protein but it really isn’t the only option! Vegans (and in fact any health lover) will most definitely have quinoa lurking in their cupboards. Quinoa is a vegan’s best friend as it’s considered a complete plant protein rather than a grain (and it’s gluten free too!) With one cup of cooked quinoa containing 8.14 grams of protein it’s the perfect replacement for carby white pasta or white rice and it tastes amazing! Other great vegan friendly proteins include lentils, any nut butters, hemp seeds and funnily enough, good old fashion vegetables! Did you know a cup of cooked spinach contains around 7 grams of protein? Popeye knew what he was talking about!

Vegan Obstacles
Of course, there are obstacles that come with going vegan. First there’s the social aspect of it. In social situations, you can sometimes feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing, from smoking to drinking and even eating. You’ll probably feel slightly apprehensive when introducing yourself as a vegan, whether is permanently or temporarily, but all you need to do is be confident about your decision and be totally relaxed about it. So what? She eats chicken and you don’t. Big deal. It’s your choice and that’s that. As far as cooking goes and the “limited choice” dilemma… there are so many recipes out there that cater to vegans. Have you seen our food section?! http://www.hipandhealthy.co.uk/category/food/recipes/

Go back ten years or so and yes, maybe there wasn’t as much knowledge and information on veganism but now days, lack of meal inspiration is simply not an excuse! Some of H&H’s favourite essentials are the selection of dairy free milks from Rude Health – http://rudehealth.com/our-food/drinks/ and dairy free butter from Pure – http://www.puredairyfree.co.uk/Products/Default.aspx

So we challenge you all to go vegan the week before Christmas! Hash tag #myveganweek so we can see how you’re getting on! Have fun!