Friday, December 26, 2014

A VERY VEGAN CHRISTMAS?

Dear gorgeous person you!


I hope you all had an amazing time celebrating christmas with your loved ones.

Normally, every year, I celebrate christmas with my huge family. Mum always cooks a huge amount of Nigerian food filled with chicken, turkey, goat meat, beef, fish, prawns and all sorts. She tries as much as possible to  include people whose families aren't around, like foreign students who can't afford to fly back home for christmas, neighbours, friends and church members who just want to celebrate with others. There'll always be a flood of people coming and going throughout the day and I especially love the Africans who bring their tupperware with them so they can take extra food home! We sometimes do it too but it still amazes me when people literally come for ten minutes, just to take food away but mum loves this - she thinks it's a compliment to her cooking. A very Nigerian christmas is all about the food and how many different types of meat you can have.

Gosh, christmas for me this year was definitely something! Ian and I both fancied to a quiet, personal christmas in just each other's company.  Admittedly,  a few other things did influence that decision slightly; going home to mum's would not only have ensured I definitely did not have a vegan christmas, it would have also cost at least £150 in petrol, £200+ in hotel costs, at least 6hrs of driving (each way) as well as a good half a stone weight gain for each of us by the time we're back to London. Plus, between christmas and January, we are going to be spending time with each other's family so we aren't missing out on precious family time.


MY BIG VEGAN DECISION

Since I announced the successful end of my 22-day vegan challenge (just before christmas) and the fact that I would be continuing being vegan with Veganuary, a lot of you have asked me on my Twitter, Youtube and Instagram if I would be vegan for christmas.

Undoubtedly, my intention was to stay vegan however, I also had a slight feeling it would depend on the practicalities. Ian and I decided the best way to accommodate both of our dietary needs was to eat out on christmas day. That way, I could be as vegan as I wanted whilst he could have turkey and whatever else his heart desired. Unfortunately, the only restaurant we found that would cater to both of us was one in South East London that only had a vegan main (a nut roast), with everything else on their menu being either vegetarian or meat-filled. Even the starter (vegetable soup) had cream already cooked into it. So it would have cost me £65 just to eat a nut roast and some vegetables - no dessert either as the christmas pudding that was covered in dairy products, either that or biscuits and cheese - #TotalVeganFail!

So our only other option was to eat at home! Off we went to Sainsbury's but as soon as we started shopping, we realised we could either have a relatively stress-free christmas (cooking a traditional English meal which neither of us had attempted before) or by adding "vegan alternatives" to the mix - we could easily make christmas as difficult as possible.

Our first concern was 'waste' - Ian certainly can't eat a whole turkey himself. The smallest turkey on the shelf was a 2kg turkey crown but this would easily have fed 6people!! Then there would have been things like buying different christmas puddings, cakes and toppings (custard, ice cream etc) most of which also come in family sizes hence neither of us would have been able to finish these on our own. We simply realised we would have been consciously separating each other at christmas (this is yours and that is mine) and unjustifiably wasting food, neither of which fits the spirit of christmas. We wanted to cook together, eat together and have a very traditional christmas in each other's company!

There was also the issue of going to Grant and Hannah's (in-laws) on the 27th for a lovely christmas meal with Ian's side of the family - as if cooking christmas lunch for 6 adults and 2 children isn't stressful enough, they would have literally had to make me a completely different christmas dinner as well as buy milk, cream, cheese alternatives that would probably all go to waste after we're gone. For all of these reasons, I made the considerate decision to not be vegan between christmas and new year and to be honest, I don't quite know how I feel about it.

ENTER THAT TURKEY

Ian and I were so very excited about spending christmas day together and one of the things we LOVE doing is cooking together but we seldom get a chance due to our varied work schedules. So on christmas morning, we watched a few Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay videos about how to make the best christmas turkey ever! Turkeys are very lean birds and could completely go wrong, especially if they get dry and tough from over-cooking. Listen to me like I didn't learn that from YouTube! haha!

After watching a few of those vids though, Ian was extremely confident with spicing and cooking the turkey and boy did he do a fantastic job. We went beyond just cooking the turkey to actually making our own gravy from the oil and spices left over after roasting the turkey, using water from boiling the sprouts. Believe me yo, it was amaze!!!! I was literally in food heaven. The potatoes and vegetables (Parsley and carrots) were also roasted to my taste - crispy on the outside and tender inside - YUMM!



DESSERT

Keeping with the theme for a traditional day, christmas pudding and christmas cake it was. The pudding was our actual dessert and we had this with home-made custard (I literally make the best custard ever!).

The cake however, came much later. In fact, to be honest, we shared this slice with a well deserved cup of tea as a snack an hour and a half before the turkey was ready.


AN AMAZING CHRISTMAS

Really couldn't have asked for a better christmas day. Everything from start to finish was perfect and admittedly, that had everything to do with the company I have been blessed with. We did spare a thought during our day for everyone out there who did not have family or friends to share christmas with and next year, I hope to actively get involved somehow in tackling loneliness experienced at this time of the year, especially in elderly people - seeing as that is my niche within Physiotherapy.


DID I REGRET MY DECISION?

I have asked myself this and although I can't say I regret it, I'm not jumping for joy either. I can only describe it as this - eating meat tasted different. Throughout my 25 days of purely being vegan and consciously eating, I never really felt that my decision to stay vegan was fully driven by the suffering of animals, rather - I felt joyful that I was taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle. However, whilst eating that turkey, I almost felt I couldn't fully enjoy it because I knew an animal had to die for me to have this yummy meal. Then I occasionally found myself fighting the thought of  considering what conditions my christmas turkey had grown up in. It's such a weird feeling because it doesn't stop you eating it as such, rather it just makes for an uncomfortably unconscious battle between your mind and your taste buds.

A small part of me does wish I would have been able to pull being vegan off this christmas but as most people in my shoes would understand, being vegan is a piece of cake, it's being able to incorporate it into the lives of the people around you without having to cause any inconvenience that's the issue.

VEGANUARY

Thanks for reading this far. I'm gonna continue my vegan journey throughout January with Veganuary so please keep an eye on my blog and all of my social media, especially  TwitterYoutube and Instagram. I will be presenting a series of videos for them where we will explore a lot of things about being vegan and my aim is to learn as much as I can about this lifestyle that's all of a sudden captivated my attention, literally out of nowhere, especially coming from a family that has always been meat-eaters and never once spared a thought for these animals or the health benefits associated with veganism.

Merry Christmas gorgeous people. We're off to Grant and Han's tomorrow, not looking forward to the 6hr drive but can't wait to see my lovely extended family.

Love Always,
Joy
xo xo

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