It’s the 1st January! I reckon I am the ONLY person online today who’s making a pledge about starting some new diet or lifestyle approach, right? I’m a bit unique and cutting edge like that. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my contribution to the resolution tidal wave – I’m going vegan. Specifically, I’m taking on ‘Veganuary’: one month of vegan living, to learn, taste, experience and debate a lifestyle that’s long made me curious.
And because blogging is my bag, I’ll be sharing some stories here about how it pans out. It’s not the sort of thing I usually write about in this space anymore, although I have reviewed plenty of healthy cookbooks. But it’s my space, so I’ll do what I like. Please note, this petulant attitude is also something I’m honing to cope with interrogations from friends and family in the month to come! For some reason the mere word ‘vegan’ raises the hackles of many an otherwise pleasant person. I presume I’ll begin to learn why during the month.
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a UK based charity venture encouraging people to embrace a way of eating that omits all animal products. The Veganuary pledge involves committing to trying it out for the month of January, and enjoying the support of a wealth of online resources. It’s free to sign up, although voluntary donations to Veganuary itself and related health and welfare groups are on offer.
In return for your pledge, Veganuary will send you a daily email for inspiration, recipe ideas and invite you to join their Facebook community. With or without formally pledging, their website has stacks of health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability info as well as recipes and links.
Most importantly, their pledge is to be welcoming and informative without preaching or judging. So far, I’ve found the Veganuary team to be fantastic (although I can’t say the same for everyone on their forums etc, but that’s very hard to control!).
So, why try vegan?
My own reasons for trying this are many and varied, but you won’t have to go far to find other people’s reasons for being vegan. If you’re interested in animal rights, you probably already know plenty of scary things about food production. From the welfare of the animals themselves, to the environmental costs of large scale breeding, right up to the way supermarkets treat their suppliers, it’s an ugly story.
In terms of health benefits, a vegan diet naturally limits your intake of salt, fat and the unnatural added chemicals found in some meat products, whilst upping your intake of fruit, veg, nuts and seeds. Sounds good in theory. Some would argue, however, that it may also be damaging. Believe me, the studies are plentiful and the debates are ferocious. I’m open to more learning and reading in this area!
What prompted me to try it was a combination of:
- general interest in health
- general shifting conscience around consumerism
- being stuck in traffic for 45 minutes alongside a truck laden with milk crates full of squashed, hot, cranky chickens. I swear they were talking to me. It was very distracting.
But this is all a complex, multi-faceted approach to eating and everyone’s journey is individual. I’m not hear to preach – nor do I need anyone to preach at me. I’m here to learn and I’ll share a few ‘learnings’* on the blog.
Vegan learnings thus far…
I’ve been more-or-less vegan for 3 days now in preparation. I’ve begun the process of re-aligning my pantry and meal planning for the week ahead. Mostly, I’ve been reading, reading, reading as many sources as I can find. I’ve already learned that….
- vegan food is miles away from ‘rabbit food’. We had pizza and ice cream for New Year’s Eve – all with the vegan tick of approval.
- lots of food we already eat is vegan, including standard supermarket products (Oreo cookies?? Who knew?).
- vegan means different things to different people. Some people are OK with eating honey, for example, others not. Some will go to KFC or Nandos and just eat the chips. Others are absolutely militant about organic, plant-based eating. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing. Except that…
- some vegans are wankers. Being vegan does not make you an angel. In fact, some people see it as an excuse to get their tin hats on and start abusing people. Some people care a lot more about animal rights than the rights of the people they’re humiliating online (for example). But then again, show me a community that doesn’t include a few wankers?
- leading by example is more effective than evangelism. “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking,” said Bernard Baruch (whoever he is), and the most convincing vegans I’ve encountered so far are the ones who are happy to have an honest, friendly chat about their choices. I’m hoping I can be one of those vegans this month (and beyond?)
If you want something vegan and truly delicious to try, I recommend these vegan sausage rolls! A kind friend sent me this link (thanks!) I don’t have a Thermomix, but the food processor worked fine. They were so, so good!
Are you doing Veganuary? Got any tips or tricks for me?
(PS.Helpful guidance always welcome, but I’ll be deleting any wankerism.)
*I might add that I truly hate this particular addition to corporate-speak. When did ‘lessons’ become ‘learnings’? Sometime after they stopped being ‘takeaways’ I guess.