As Christmas approaches, you might notice an ever-so-slight change in topics the media talk about: before the holidays, we’re bombarded with a peculiar mix of ‘yummiest Christmas recipes’ and dictates on ‘how not to overeat at Christmas’. Right after the holidays, the ‘lose weight after the holidays’ campaigns roll out. It’s so predictable – you can see it coming by now.
And if you look around you, you can see this attitude permeating your surroundings, as well – your work colleagues, friends or family members are likely to swap recipes around Christmas, laced with jokes about how much they’ll eat (I’m so guilty of this one). Now fast-forward to returning to work or school come January. Is everyone on a diet? Yeah, figured.
Food becomes a loaded topic around the holidays. You’re not supposed to say no to it – how rude – but if you wholeheartedly dig in, you know what’s coming: a January of extra-small salads with a side of guilt. And a few extra spinning classes thrown in for good measure, perhaps with a perky instructor who encourages you, along with ten other yuletide over-eaters, to “get rid of those Christmas love handles!” There’s simply no way to win at food over Christmas.
What bothers me about the December double-standard in the food department is that the people who claim vegans are joyless and boring, are the same people whom you see saying no to office Christmas pudding because they’re “being good” – which is fine, but why then the harsh critiques of someone who forgoes the cake to try to be good to animals and the planet? Why, once again, is it socially accepted to care about yourself and not about someone or something else?
As vegans, we’ve got a whole separate slew of problems to deal with over the holidays (“no, Mum, I haven’t ‘changed my mind’, and no, turkey is still not a vegetable”) without the pressure to say no to the ONE thing we can eat out of the entire table just because it so happens to be the most calorie-laden one. I say this year, rebel against the holiday hysteria around weight and let go of the obsession with the size of your dinner plate. If you want to pile it on, pile it on. If you want to munch on kale over mince-meat pies, go right ahead. And, most importantly, remember that January is just a month. It’s not thirty days of forced diet bootcamp. I’m no nutritionist, but I say eat healthily about 80% of the time and you’ll be fine. It’s okay to indulge yourself, but it’s also okay to say no to pigging out if you don’t feel like it.
Food is necessary for our survival, but it’s also an enjoyment. Christmas is a time for warmth and family, but it’s also a time of enjoyment for all the senses, including taste. Indulging your sense of taste doesn’t necessarily mean pushing more and more food down your throat just because it’s there. It means tasting, savouring, feeling the flavour of the food. Whether it’s the crisp, fresh flavour of fruit or the sweet, rich taste of chocolate, saying a big, enthusiastic yes to food and flavours is crucial to Christmas. Food is meaningful in so many ways – don’t let its magic pass you by because of something as trivial as society’s norms.
Header photo by Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash