We can’t avoid the W word any longer: winter is creeping up on us fast. Falling temperatures and darker evenings are no friends to our energy levels, meaning cosy nights in with plenty of comfort food are non-negotiable in this weather. However, there are plenty of earth-friendly ways to survive the colder months and we couldn’t think of anyone better to talk us through them than vegan advocate and host of the Talking Tastebuds podcast, Venetia Falconer. We caught up with the self-professed plant pusher after shooting our latest Autumn Winter editorial together to chat all about animal-free ways to make it through winter, and create a feeling of cosiness without damaging anything else in the process.
What triggered your decision to switch to a plant-based diet?
It was a chain of events. I had been doing lots of yoga and meditation and I think the more present you try to be, the more of a conscious consumer you become. Vegetables were suddenly the central focus of the plate, with amazing women like Anna Jones and Ella Mills championing plant-based eating. Powerful documentaries like Cowspiracy and Black Fish opened my eyes to animal injustice and taught me that it wasn’t right to adhere to social conventions and view dogs differently to pigs. I think really, I wanted to make a difference. I was ready for my food choices to be about something bigger than macronutrients and ‘fuel’.
What are your go-to vegan meals for chilly winter weather?
Stews, hot pots and curries. I love piling vegetables into a big pot with loads of onion, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and just leaving it all to cook. I’ll serve them with a load of short grain brown rice and slices of avocado or a creamy cashew dressing.
What is your favourite animal-free comfort food?
Nothing beats a homemade hot chocolate. For ultimate frothiness, I blend plant mylk (hazelnut is my preference for this) with cacao powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and dates, before heating the mixture up for a few minutes on the hob.
What is your view on the use of animal products such as leather in fashion versus their vegan substitutes?
My priority is buying second-hand or vintage. I strongly believe that we need to champion items that are pre-existing. I wouldn’t buy ‘new’ leather because I think the vegan substitutes (like Angela Roi) are so beautiful!
What are your top tips for staying healthy and positive during the colder months?
Now this is something I have to work at! To stay healthy, I make time for movement every day: be it a run, walk or yoga class. If I’m feeling run down, or just want an extra kick, I like to drink what I call my ‘Beyonce Drank’. It consists of hot water with slices of lemon and orange, gratings of fresh turmeric and fresh ginger and a dash of apple cider vinegar. To stay positive, I start my day by thinking of three things that I’m grateful for. I need to be around people as much as possible, so try and see my friends and family as much I can.
What is your idea of the perfect winter weekend?
A cosy weekend in the countryside or by the sea, with lots of tea, long walks, books by the fire and a big Sunday roast followed by apple crumble.
Are there any great sustainability podcasts or documentaries that you can recommend for watching during a cosy night in?
I generally use podcasts as a way to unwind, so tend not to listen to ones about the things I constantly think about (namely veganism and environmentalism!). My current favourites are How To Fail, Table Manners and George Ezra + Friends. Documentaries wise, I’d recommend Carnage on BBC iPlayer. But you’ll also find me diving into The Marvellous Mrs Maisel - OBsessed.
Interview by Beatrice Murray-Nag for Antibad.