After being a vegan for a while, there are some truths you just can’t help but notice. There are the pleasant truths: your skin clears up, you have more energy, and vegetables start to taste better. There are the annoying truths, like the fact that everyone and their mother and their mother’s mother try to become your nutritionist at least once. And then there are the weird ones, like sometimes it’s a little more complicated to be vegan in the wintertime.
I love being a vegan in the summer. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful, delicious and in season. Smoothies and ice cream (made of almond milk or frozen bananas) are easy meal choices. The heat makes light meals more appealing. But in the winter, when the snow and cold means craving comfort food more often, I find veganism more difficult. Luckily, there are a few ways to make a vegan diet easy, delicious, and satisfying during every season.
The overall best tip for following a vegan diet in the winter is a New Year’s resolution I borrowed from a friend: “No more sad salads.” Too often, the months after New Year’s are full of “sad” salads and body shaming, but eating a plate full of dry iceberg lettuce and some carrots is usually a good way to end up resenting veganism and setting yourself up to make unhealthy choices later. With that said, I love salads year-round, so giving up sad salads doesn’t mean eating fewer vegetables. It just means adding lots of seasonal vegetables, like kale, collard greens, spinach or beets, which are packed with nutrients and taste better during winter than their summer counterparts.
I top my salads with homemade dressing made from the oil, vinegar and spices in the dining hall: there are endless combinations, so it’s fun to experiment with new combinations and find favorites. As for protein, adding a scoop of quinoa or a serving of tofu can turn any salad into protein-packed comfort food. As of this semester, the dining hall in Pomeroy has almonds and peanuts to top salads, and Bates and Tower usually have seeds as well — great for adding texture, flavor and healthful nutrients like magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Finally, adding carbohydrates by serving your salad over a bed of rice, potatoes, or roasted root vegetables — especially seasonal, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes — turns any salad into a filling “Buddha bowl.” “Buddha bowls,” the trendy lunch or dinner equivalent of the smoothie-based “acai bowl,” are sold in hip New York vegan restaurants for $16, but can be easily recreated in a trip around the dining hall.
In addition to giving up “sad salads,” another great way to go vegan and stay vegan is to embrace vegan comfort food. Try Pomeroy’s vegan pot pie, Tower’s vegan pho bar, or rice and beans at Bates. Or, for the ambitious, winter is a great time to explore the exciting world of vegan mac n’ cheeze. Order a box of Annie’s gluten-free and vegan mac and cheese online, or try making your own with pasta and Daiya cheese or nutritional yeast, which melts like cheese but offers a boost of vitamin B12.
Warm up after a long walk back from class with hot vegan drinks like tea with almond milk. For hot cocoa, bypass the sugary Swiss Miss packs, which are made with milk powder, and make your own with cocoa powder, raw sugar, cinnamon and soy or almond milk. Although most marshmallows are made with animal-derived gelatin or use egg whites as stabilizers, vegan marshmallows are easy to find online, at Whole Foods or at Trader Joes. Although February in New England is cold and icy, delicious vegan food and drinks are a great way to make winter a little cozier.