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Celebrity Health - Jasmine Harman

TV presenter Jasmine Harman chats to Liz Parry about the health benefits of a vegan diet

TV presenter Jasmine Harman has fronted the Channel 4 show A Place in the Sun since 2004. The 42-year-old mum-of-two has been a vegetarian since the age of six and a vegan since 2014. A qualified fitness instructor, she is passionate about health and wellbeing.

Becoming a mum was the big catalyst for going vegan for me. Understanding that mammals, including humans and cows, only make milk when they have had a baby prompted me to research why cows produce so much milk. What I discovered can only be described as utterly horrific. I wanted no part of it any more. Cows repeatedly artificially inseminated. Babies taken from their mothers soon after birth. Babies killed and eaten. Mothers used for their milk and killed for meat at a fraction of their natural lifespan when they are no longer profitable. It was a no brainer. If you object to veal, you should not eat dairy.

I don’t think I would have coped as well with the last four years of interrupted sleep (as a mum of small children who don’t like sleeping) without the energy boost I get from my vegan diet. I lost all my baby weight much sooner after my second pregnancy (as a vegan). I was back in my jeans after two to three weeks! My skin is much more naturally glowing and youthful. My digestion is infinitely better and I feel like my body is able to much more effectively process and utilise the nutrients in my food. It’s difficult to describe, but I feel cleaner on the inside, as if my arteries have been cleansed. My conscience is clear, the benefits of which cannot even be quantified they are so great, and I live peacefully knowing that I’m doing as little harm as possible to myself, the planet and the animals.

I would say that going vegan feels like it’s going to be a much bigger step than it really is. It’s easy now there are so many vegan alternatives. It’s completely different to going on a ‘diet’ and having to use willpower to stick to it. I’ve never had to use willpower as once I’d informed myself of the reality behind the animal products in our shops, I was not even tempted by them. Watch one (or more) of the vegan documentaries and this will not only inspire you but strengthen your resolve and equip you with facts that can be helpful when navigating transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re not ready for the full commitment, do one meal a day, or a few days per week. Every meal choice is a step in the right direction. Lastly, do it! Your biggest regret will be not doing it sooner.

My diet will vary depending on where in the world I am, but at home my usual day will look something like this: Breakfast will either be marmite and avocado on granary toast with tomatoes, or porridge with seeds and raisins made with cashew milk. Lunch might be soup – I’m especially partial to spicy lentil soup – or a wrap with salad, falafels, sun dried tomatoes etc. Dinner cooked at home could be a veggie curry and rice, chilli sin carne, my famous mushroom risotto, sausages and mash, spaghetti bolognese etc. Something different every day.

I love cooking when I’m at home. I really enjoy veganising classic dishes like some of those mentioned above. We enjoy our food at home and like hearty meals that leave you feeling satisfied but not stuffed. We eat lots and lots of vegetables, so vegan fajitas with homemade salsa, guacamole and vegan soured cream always goes down well, or for real comfort food, my vegan shepherd’s pie is a hit every time.

When I’m travelling for work there will always be a vegan option, but sometimes you have to be a bit creative. Healthy can sometimes be more challenging as sometimes the only vegan option is chips! But over the last year or two the awareness of providing vegan options has improved phenomenally all over the globe, and the number of my team members keen to eat in a vegan-friendly establishment has also increased, so it is becoming easier all the time. I use the Happy Cow app when I’m travelling to find good vegan-friendly restaurants. Plus, I often go self-catering so even if I have to settle for a dull lunch (like chips and salad) I can make something fantastic for dinner. The supermarkets are surprisingly well stocked with vegan foods and, if not, there will always be a health food shop.

I’m only just getting back into exercise after some time off, and I have to say I still hate the gym as much as I always have. I find it really hard to motivate myself and so I find group exercise, such as classes, much more fun and easy to motivate myself. I used to be a fitness instructor, so working out was my job. So for me there is nothing better than a really great challenging group exercise class like aerobics, dance, body pump, Pilates or body combat. I have joined the David Lloyd Club in Purley, near to where I live, and luckily there are so many fantastic classes to choose from. I’ve already lost 8lbs.

My top tip for healthy living would be to love yourself. We all go through times when we are motivated to eat healthily and exercise, then go through other times when we have different priorities in life. Stressing over being healthy will not make you healthy. I would also recommend mindful eating. Ask yourself whether you are really hungry or maybe just thirsty? Savour each bite and eat food that will satisfy your cravings, not just momentarily.

Jasmine Harman can currently be seen presenting A Place in the Sun on Channel 4. The official exhibition of the TV show, A Place in The Sun Live, will be taking place from 11 to 13 May at London’s Olympia. Follow Jasmine on social media: Twitter @Jasmineharman Facebook JasmineHarmanOfficial Instagram @jasmineharman

Image of Jasmine Harman © Sarah Cresswell

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