How to survive the holidays as a vegan? This month we are talking to our trainer Sebastian about his vegan lifestyle: what he eats and what tips he has for us to keep December under control.
Tell us what you eat in a day.
Sebastian: I do intermittent fasting: I eat in a window of about 8 hours and ”fast” for about 16 hours. It is not military strict, some days I eat more or less hours.
I eat the same thing for breakfast (the meal that breaks the fast) everyday. This saves me from having to make yet another decision per day and it assures me that I have the right amount of calories and proteins to start my day right. I eat it between 13.00 and 14.00 and it consists of 150g frozen berries, 75g oats, 1 scoop of pea protein powder and 220ml of plant based milk (usually soy milk).
I have one more meal in the evening, which varies. Yesterday, I had homemade miso soup, with rice noddles, veggies, and grilled tofu on the side. Everyday I change the protein source: it could be lentils, black beans, chickpeas tempeh, tofu, etc. I also change the way I prepare them: some days I make them as a soup, other days as chilli, or with rice, etc.
If you are wondering how can I work at a gym with people all day and eat beans; studies show that the intestinal gas caused by legumes diminishes after gradually increasing one’s intake. Gas should diminish and return to normal after a few days or weeks of increased legume intake.
Tell us what you eat when you really want something delicious, what would be your vegan treat?
Sebastian: When I get the munchies, I like snacking on popcorn (microwave popped so it does not have added calories from oil) and on rice waffles too, which are low in calories and require a lot of chewing. And of course I snack on fruit, loads of fruit.
During the weekend I usually have pizza or burger. Nowadays there are loads of vegan options, I even tried Domino’s mushroom with vegan cheese pizza and it was lekker! Sometimes we make pizza at home as my wife is Italian or buy the pre-made dough from the shop and add loads of toppings like veggies and vegan meats. When I eat burgers I usually make them at home with a store-bought vegan burger.
What are your favourite vegan stores, restaurants in Amsterdam?
Sebastian: There is a really nice shop called Vegabond on De Clercqstraat. They sell different kinds of things, but couple of weeks ago I tried vegan stroopwafels for the first time. I was impressed! They also have a food bar and make all kind of pastries, cheesecakes, sausage rolls, cookies, EVERYTHING vegan!
There is another store in the center called Vega-life on the Nieuwe Hoogstraat. They sell nice treats and vegan products.
I try to cook as much as possible at home, however, the other day I went to Helin’s Vegan Döner on the Linnaeusstraat and it blew my mind, it was the bomb!!!! I 100% recommend it.
As a vegan, could you give us some tips on how to switch some higher calorie, less healthy holiday dishes into delicious vegan options?
Sebastian: Plant-based foods tend to be low in calories anyway, so it is easy to stay low in calories eating a plant-based diet. That is only if one doesn’t replace all the high calorie foods for their vegan alternatives like all the mock-meats, mock-cheeses, Pringles, Oreo’s, Ben&Jerry’s and many more alternatives that are available nowadays. If these are regularly consumed, then the calorie intake will increase significantly.
You can make any traditional dish into a vegan dish. For example, if you are going to make chilli con carne, you can easily change the minced meat for soya mince. I like to have it with rice, but If I want to consume even fewer calories I will make or buy broccoli or cauliflower rice.
For the holidays we usually make tiramisu. My wife changed the mascarpone cheese for blended tofu which makes it less caloric and boosts up its protein content.
What one tip do you have in order to stay on track in December and not go completely overboard with all the festivities?
Sebastian: I think a good tip (although not necessarily vegan) is intermittent fasting. If you know you are going to eat and drink a lot in the evening, try fasting so that you save up all your calories for that meal. You could do the same during the ensuing days to make sure you don’t over-consume. And of course, stay active! Keep going to the gym, keep walking, keep drinking water, keep eating your veggies. If you don’t feel like it, do it and you will get motivated once you’ve started!
We have trained very hard for the whole year, consistently day in & day out. One or two higher calorie meals won’t damage your gains. So I recommend not to be too hard on yourself.