Ni­cole whips her fam­ily into shape

The ac­tress loves veg­ging out with the kids

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - This week -

Aformer veg­e­tar­ian with a plethora of plant-eat­ing pals and a hus­band who run­sru a ve­gan-friendly ic ice-cream com­pany, ac­tre ac­tress Ni­cole Whippy has al­ready seen the ben ben­e­fits of a meat-free life­style.

So when an­i­mal-a rights charit char­ity Safe chal­lenged herh to go “veggo” for fourfo weeks, the Noth­ingTriv­ialNothin star – a self­con­fessed­con­fess foodie with a fond­ness­fon for steak – wasw happy to oblige.oblig

But thet mum-oftwo didn’t justjus stop there – she de­cided tot get the whole fam­ily, in­cluding­inc her hubby Tommy Holden,Ho 32, and d aught ersdh PP earl,l eight, and Vida, two, on board as well.

Ni­cole, who re­cently cel­e­brated her 40th birth­day, tells, “We like all types of food and we try to eat or­ganic, but we’re a busy house­hold and I’m not above pick­ing up pizza or open­ing a can of baked beans. We prob­a­bly weren’t eat­ing as many fresh veges as we should have been, which is why we de­cided to do this.”

The first week was def­i­nitely the hard­est, the

Out­ra­geous For­tune star re­flects. “I re­alised how mind­lessly we’d been con­sum­ing meat and fish. I al­most ate some sal­mon at my mum’s place, but then I re­alised I can’t have that any more.”

Go­ing meat-free in­spired big fam­ily de­bates from the get-go, tells Ni­cole. “We’d never re­ally had dis­cus­sions

‘ I al­ways said I wouldn’t de­prive the kids dur­ing ex­per­i­ment’ the

based around food be­fore and all of a sud­den, when Pearl wanted a pie, we’d talk about where that meat came from.

“Her best school friend is a pescatar­ian [doesn’t eat meat, but eats fish], so she was re­ally ex­cited about go­ing meat-free. We also gave her a kid’s book about veg­e­tar­i­an­ism. She loved the con­nec­tion be­tween not eat­ing meat and not harm­ing an­i­mals.”

Tommy’stucker

Tommy, the co-founder of Lit­tle Is­land Cream­ery, also threw him­self into the chal­lenge, whip­ping up his own ve­gan may­on­naise and tak­ing on most of the cook­ing while Ni­cole was per­form­ing six nights a week in a stage pro­duc­tion of AStreet­car NamedDe­sire.

“He’s been amaz­ing,” tells Ni­cole, who was veg­e­tar­ian for a year in her 20s. “When I was do­ing the play, he was creat­ing these in­cred­i­ble meals, in­clud­ing a gourmet Asian tofu dish.”

But while they en­joyed eat­ing at home, din­ing out was harder. Ni­cole smiles, “A few of our mates were sur­prised and teased us for be­ing ‘dirty hip­pies’, but it en­cour­aged good de­bate.”

It helped that many of the cou­ple’s good friends are ve­gan, in­clud­ing Tommy’s busi­ness part­ner James Crow and his fam­ily, and sev­eral of Ni­cole’s cast­mates in the award-win­ning web se­ries

Auck­ward Love. “I ac­tu­ally have more meat-free and ve­gan friends than meat eaters, so we got a lot of sup­port,” tells Ni­cole.

How­ever, she can’t muster any en­thu­si­asm for fake meat prod­ucts. “I know some peo­ple love it, but I’d rather eat lots of veges,” she tells. “I def­i­nitely found my sweet tooth! There are some amaz­ing new ve­gan-friendly bak­eries, and I found it hard to re­sist a lot of dough­nuts and cakes.”

But even the sweet stuff couldn’t help Tommy, who was swayed by a steak mid-chal­lenge, when the Auck­land cou­ple vis­ited their favourite local restau­rant. And Pearl ate meat on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions too.

Ni­cole tells, “I al­ways said I wouldn’t de­prive my kids dur­ing this ex­per­i­ment. If they re­ally wanted meat, then they could have it. But they would have to think about it first, that was the deal. I’m re­ally proud of her.”

By the third week, the fam­ily had “got into a groove”, tells Ni­cole, adding that “prepa­ra­tion is the key”. And there were other rev­e­la­tions – her skin im­proved and Tommy be­came leaner. “I also no­ticed that I wasn’t get­ting as an­gry about stuff,” she says. “I felt calmer and clearer.”

This month, Safe is en­cour­ag­ing fam­i­lies across Aotearoa to trial a meat-free diet for World Veg­e­tar­ian Month. They can sign up for the Eat Kind Chal­lenge and find help­ful tips at safe.org.nz.

For Ni­cole, the task has in­spired long-term change. She ex­plains, “We’ve de­cided as a fam­ily to go meat-free dur­ing the week and give our­selves the choice on the week­end.”

But again, it’ll be up to Tommy to do the cook­ing as Ni­cole gears up to star along­side her old Out­ra­geous

For­tune co-star Dave Fane in the play TheMoun­tain

Top, a fic­tional ac­count of Amer­i­can Civil Rights Move­ment leader Martin Luther King’s last night on earth, which opens on Oc­to­ber 31.

“Grow­ing up Pasi­fika, we’ve both ex­pe­ri­enced racism,” says the Fi­jian-born beauty. “I re­mem­ber as a kid, a girl told me, ‘My mum says I can’t play with you any more be­cause you’re brown.’ Those un­der­ly­ing ex­pe­ri­ences stick with you, so it’s some­thing we’re re­ally pas­sion­ate about ad­dress­ing in this play.”

And as daily re­hearsals get un­der­way, Ni­cole is op­ti­mistic about her new life­style. “No more mince and cheese pies for lunch!” she smiles. “I’d en­cour­age any­one who’s think­ing about try­ing the Eat Kind Chal­lenge to give it a go – it might just change your life.”

Tommy dishes out the good stuff to his girls, Pearl (left), Vida and Ni­cole.

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