Celebrity Health – Jasmine Harman

Jasmine Harman talks to Liz Parry about how her vegan diet has benefited her health and wellbeing

Image of Jasmine Harman by Sarah Cresswell

TV presenter Jasmine Harman can currently be seen bringing a little sunshine into our lives on Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun. She is a mum of two, a passionate vegan and an ambassador for the Veganuary campaign.

Q How long have you been vegan, and what prompted you to make the switch to a plant-based diet?

Jasmine: I first thought about going vegan when I became a mum. I was vegetarian anyway and I had toyed with the idea of going vegan, but I didn’t ever think that I could live without cheese. Then, when I began to do some research into the dairy industry, what I found out was horrific.

Cows are forced to become pregnant after artificial insemination and their babies are taken away from them shortly after birth. The babies are eaten or used as dairy cows themselves. And after four or five years, dairy cows don’t produce as much milk so are sent off to become cheap meat. I realised there was no way that I could live with myself if I continued to consume dairy. So I signed up for the first ever Veganuary challenge in 2014 as a participant and I haven’t looked back since.

Q How has going vegan benefited your health and wellbeing?

Jasmine: Before making the switch, I’d had problems breastfeeding my daughter, but after going vegan I was able to do it successfully. I was vegan throughout the whole of my second pregnancy with my son and I had no issues whatsoever. It has had an impact on everything from my skin to my digestion and energy levels, and even things like my mental health. I feel much more like my lifestyle aligns with my beliefs and that gives me a great deal of peace of mind.

Q What will you be having for your vegan Christmas dinner?

Jasmine: The whole family has a vegan Christmas now. We usually have a few different options and we do go a bit overboard! Last year we had a really nice vegan pie, a nut roast, a lentil bake and the kids had a meat alternative instead of roast turkey. The year before we had a vegan Wellington from a local bakery. We also have roast potatoes, which is my husband’s speciality. He puts them in a little bit of gram flour, which is chickpea flour, and sometimes tosses them in some Marmite and they go really crispy, brown and tasty. So, there’s no need to use something like goose fat. Then we’ll also have creamy leeks and mushrooms and for that we use a non-dairy cream. It’s very easy to have the same food but with vegan alternatives. I’ve been vegetarian since I was six, so I’ve never had turkey at Christmas anyway. There are lots of easy swaps you can make.

Q What are some of the other ways that you look after your own health and wellbeing? For example, do you enjoy regular exercise?

Jasmine: I used to be a fitness instructor and so I’ve always loved exercise classes. I really enjoy things like dance, step, boxercise and body combat. But since lockdown happened I’ve struggled to get motivated. I really like the social aspect of doing group exercise classes, and I love having a routine to learn as that gives your brain a workout too. I can’t wait till I can get back and do my classes again.

Q It’s currently a stressful time for all of us. Do you have any tips or advice for tackling stress that work for you?

Jasmine: Yes, I have a couple of meditation apps on my phone that I’ve found to be so beneficial. When we went into the first lockdown and the kids were home all the time I felt like I was busier than ever and it was quite stressful. It was a bit overwhelming just not being able to do simple things like take the kids to the park. So, listening to meditation really helped me to switch my brain off and just stop for a minute. It also really helped with my sleep. Something else that has helped has been keeping in touch with friends and family over video calls. It was my birthday last week and my husband organised a surprise birthday party for me on Zoom. It was so lovely to see all the family and it really made me realise how much I miss everyone. Little things like that can help you to keep in contact with your family and friends if you can’t see them in person.

Q Lastly, what are your hopes for 2021?

Jasmine: I really hope that things will get back to normal a bit more so that we can see our loved ones and be able to travel again. I’ve always enjoyed travelling and get so much out of being able to absorb myself into different cultures, different languages and different people. I also hope that as a result of the pandemic people’s priorities will change and that they will get a better work/life balance in their lives.

Jasmine Harman presents A Place in the Sun weekdays on Channel 4 (www.aplaceinthesun.com). She has also recently teamed up with plant-based ready meal brand The Brook. To find out more, visit the-brook.co.uk

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