Summer (in Australia, sorry you Northern Hemi folk) has arrived! Hooray! Applause! Party poppers!Mary Poppins heel-clicks all over the place! It’s my favourite time of the year. The days are long; the nights are warm. Christmas is approaching. The music festival calendar is jam-packed. It’s the perfect weather for: hiking through the bush, al fresco dining, swimming in the ocean, laying on a beach, picnicking in a park, or camping by a river. And it’s totally legit to eat ice-creams and ice-blocks at any time of the day. “What? I’m just trying to cool down.”
So you have a stress-free, awkward-moments-free few festive months, here are my top five tips for a ripper vegan summer.
BE BBQ READY
When the sun is in full force al fresco dining is how we like to break bread. And there are few more revered summer rituals than the backyard BBQ. But anyone who has been vegan or vegetarian for a while understands that navigating the murky waters of someone else’s BBQ routine can be ‘totes awkes’.
If it is a family member who knows the drill and is happy to cook your veggie burgers in an animal-product-free section of the BBQ (many come with extra side grills or side woks now) and use separate utensils then no worries, you’re flying. But for all other situations it’s best to avoid that conversation altogether.
Bring along some vegan bread rolls and an epic salad that you can share with everyone there. While the group is oohing and aahing over what you’ve brought (surprise them with the versatility of vegan ingredients by making a creamy potato or mock tuna salad) you can stuff a tong-full into your roll and feel just as much a part of the hands-on fun as everyone else. If the thought of hitting a BBQ without a snag is a summer bummer then cook them at your place the night before and ask your host if you can give them a quick zap in the microwave when lunch is served.
Christmas. New Years. Music Festivals. Camping. Summer weddings. Sports matches. If you enjoy celebrating with an alcoholic beverage or six then summer provides a balmy backdrop for a tipple with friends and family. But many alcoholic beverages are not vegan. Beer, wine and cider are often filtered using animal products such as fish bladder, egg whites, milk or gelatine.
If you are attending a celebration, even if they are supplying the booze, it’s best to bring your own. If you are unsure which alcoholic drinks are cruelty free, barnivore.com is a great website that logs which of your favourite beverages are vegan. If you are a beer or cider drinker you are better off choosing the offerings of a microbrewery — they are lovingly crafted, you are supporting local business, and because they are small outfits they are swift at responding to email inquiries regarding ingredients. Cheers!
PREPARE FOR THE ROAD
If you’re heading off on a road trip or catching a flight this summer then it’s imperative you bring a lunchbox of goodies to keep your tummy satisfied when on the move. Petrol stations and airports can be a vegan deadzone. Don’t leave it to chance. It can be frustrating to find yourself hungry with no vegan options in sight. Filling up on junk or getting a case of the ‘hangries’ is no way to start your summer holiday.
So pack a lunchbox with great cruelty-free snacks — there are so many to choose from! Chopped up fruit and veg and nuts and seeds are easy to carry in ziplock bags. Vegan protein bars, bliss balls, popcorn, kale chips, dips and cheeze and salad sandwiches are all things you can take on the road.
IT’S HIP TO BE HYDRATED
Avoid slurping on sugary soda this summer and keep your skin dewy and clear with healthy, cruelty-free ways to keep your thirst quenched. Fill up on coconut water — especially after a sweaty workout to replenish those electrolytes naturally. Bottle up some homemade ‘vitamin water’ by filling your favourite vessel with filtered water, fruit like citrus or berries and herbs like mint or basil the night before a day in the sunshine. Make your own sugar-free iced tea with your favourite green or herbal blend and a few stevia drops left to cool down in the fridge overnight. Sling a fair-trade espresso shot into a mason jar with your favourite plant-based milk, some coconut syrup and ice and hit the road — stick it in a blender first to turn your iced coffee into a frappe! No need for Starsucks!
CRUELTY-FREE COOL DOWNS
If you are lucky enough to live near a city then your local healthfood store will by now have a dazzling array of soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk ice creams and ice blocks. But if you don’t have access to this icey amazingness you can actually be your very own Mr Whippy and you can do it guilt-free too. You can make your own sensational soft serve at home with nothing more than some frozen bananas and your imagination. Popping frozen ‘nanas, a splash of plant-based milk or coconut water (not too much) and your favourite flavourings into a high-speed blender and using a tamper will give you vegan ice cream in seconds. Magic! Here’s a recipe to get you started.
CHAI MY BANANA NICE-CREAM
3 frozen bananas
1 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cardamom
Splash of coconut water or plant-based milk
Blend it like Beckham. Use the tamper. Sprinkle with chia seeds.
Eat up! Cool down