Many wonder if they will get all the nutrients they need before going vegan. Especially over winter, when the body needs more calories.
The warm months, when gardens are full of vegetables and fruit, are more culinary than winter. And if you are vegan, a varied menu seems mission impossible.
But is it really that hard to be vegan in winter?
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Although we usually feel short of food during the winter, just hopping to the local store or farmer changes our minds. Even if we grow our own vegetables, we know we can have a wide variety and a full pantry in winter.
Vegetables well suited for winter dishes:
Fermented foods, in particular, have an excellent effect on our gut and, consequently, our immune system. In addition, fermented vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and can be prepared raw or cooked.
So what can vegans eat with these vegetables in winter?
Add some grains or legumes for a tasty and nutritious meal.
Eating seasonal foods is the key to getting what your body needs. We get more than enough nutrients by eating seasonally and choosing food for our plates according to the time of year.
However, in winter, our bodies indeed crave a little more cooked food, which can be complemented nicely with various grains to warm the body up even more.
Root vegetables, which can be cooked into soups or stews and to which legumes such as beans can be added, are a delicious vegan winter dish.
Why Do We Eat More Food in Winter?
Winter is the coldest season of the year, when trees and the surroundings become white, and we are chilling to the bone.
Besides feeling cold, there are other things we unconsciously always feel during winter. We tend to eat more food during the winter months.
Our appetites change in the winter when days are shorter and nights are longer. As a result, researchers believe our body kicks into starvation mode, and we want to stock up for the cold times ahead.
Research shows that weight generally increases more during the fall and winter than in summer. Studies have found that U.S. adults gain between 0.4 – 0.9 kg between winter months, in November and January.
Another study also found that people consume more calories in winter and feel hungrier even though they eat larger meals. Overeating during winter is very common.
Here are some factors that can contribute to overeating habits during winter:
During winter, our body works harder to protect our health and keep us warm, which is called thermogenesis.
The colder weather leads to a drop in our body temperature, which stimulates our appetites because eating helps generate heat in our bodies.
A lack of sunlight can cause many problems, such as skin problems, depression, and vitamin D deficiency.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) isn’t about the cold; instead, it results from the lack of light available as the days grow shorter. Reduced levels of sunlight during winter can lead to a drop in the hormones melatonin and serotonin, which affect sleep, and mood and can trigger seasonal depression.
SAD patients tend to crave carbohydrate-rich food during the winter to increase serotonin levels when the sunlight decreases. In addition, eating more food may be their body’s way of combating seasonal depression.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Lack of sunlight may lead to vitamin D deficiency, making you hungrier.
Some studies showed that vitamin D deficiency causes overeating and gaining weight. Vitamin D is a controller of a hormone called leptin which helps prevent hunger and regulate energy balance.
We tend to eat more food without sufficient vitamin D levels during winter.
Most of the population doesn’t get enough vitamin D throughout the year, but it gets even worse in winter. That is why consuming enough vitamin D supplements is highly recommended, especially in the winter.
Does Your Body Need More Food in the Winter?
According to USDA, the recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2,000 kcal and 2,500 for men. But the daily calorie intake increases during winter.
Under sedentary conditions in the cold, requirements may range from 3,632 to 4,317 kcal/d or about 46 to 57 kcal per kg body weight per day.
In more highly harsh circumstances in the cold, requirements of 4,200 to around 5,000 kcal/d, or 54 to 62 kcal per kg body weight per day, may be required.
Cold temperature outside makes us use more energy to keep our body warm.
What is the Best Vegan Food in Winter?
In winter, our body starts craving warm foods that make us feel warmer from within. It is also recommended to add onion, garlic, black pepper, ginger, and other spices to our food because they produce heat in the body.
Root vegetables such as beans, potatoes, and broccoli are innately hot and recommended during winter.
Here is the recipe for my favorite vegan winter food; this is very easy and won’t take too long to make!
This recipe is full of flavor because of all these great ingredients — the starch element, often the vegetable element, and indeed the herbs element.
Beans are an excellent source of protein, are high in fiber, iron, and vitamins, and are low in fat. Making them a perfect choice for a meal that will sate your hunger.
You can also add thyme to this recipe. It smells excellent and contains vitamins A, C, B-complex, K, E, and folic acid. This is one of the hottest herbs and is recommended for use in winter.
Thyme consumption can help decrease anxiety, stress, and depression in patients with SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
How to Be Raw Vegan in Winter?
If vegetable stews are an excellent option for vegans to eat in winter, what is left for raw vegans?
Don’t worry. I got you covered with 7 tips on how to be raw vegan in winter:
Autumn and winter is the ideal time to go raw, as most people initially crave ‘heavier’ foods for a few months. The best raw approximations of these foods are made in a dehydrator.
Nuts and Seeds
This means that we are not so dependent on the supply of fruit and vegetables but can make do with nuts, seeds, and various so-called superfoods.
However, we must be aware that this diet contains a significant amount of fat, even if it is a whole-food diet. Hence, it would help if you were careful about the amount you consume.
Raw food diet is not about detoxifying the body, as nuts, in particular, increase acidity. However, in moderation, you will certainly live a healthier life than you would otherwise if you were still eating only industrially processed and produced food.
It is essential to soak nuts in water for at least a few hours before using them, making them easier to digest.
Here is the list of superfoods that may be worth mentioning since they are raw vegan and will definitely be good for your body:
- Spirulina or chlorella.
- Goji berries
- Chia seeds
- Cocoa in all its forms
The list of superfoods is pervasive, and you will find out what else you would like to try in time. These are just a few to help start your raw food winter journey.
Don’t forget sprouting, as this is a great way to eat something more »substantial.« Let me remind you that buckwheat porridge, for example, can be eaten raw. All you have to do is soak it in water overnight. Then, in the morning, you rinse it off, and you’re ready for a great breakfast.
Warming spices like ginger, cayenne, cumin, and curry will help warm you up. You can add these spices to your salad or even your smoothie bowl. It is best to consume these herbs in their raw, fresh form.
Stock up and Order Fruit Online
Make sure you stock up as much as possible with whatever you can get your hands on. After all, it is fruit and vegetables that give life. However, you might get frustrated with the variety in local stores or get tired of the monotony. You could also consider buying organic tropical fruit online.
It is a great way to get some exotic fruit, although it can be unfriendly to your wallet. The fruit is excellent, but you must gobble it as it tends to rot soon. Definitely an option worth taking advantage of from time to time.
As much as many people think that vegans starve in winter, this is far from the truth.
Vegans also have plenty of local vegetables, grains, and legumes to choose from in winter, which are rich in vitamins to keep the immune system strong even during the cold winter.
And if you’re salivating for exotic fruits, you can always order them online.
Whatever you decide to eat in winter, remember to make sure you get enough vitamin D supplements, as the general population is very deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter months.