As I write this we are well into the third week of Veganuary, and for those of you who, like me, have signed up, we are coming toward the end of our vegan month. How are you getting on?
I’ve read lots of people’s comments about Veganuary and the are so many different experiences, but one thing does stand out – the more you do it, the easier and simpler it becomes. If you normally eat meat and fish and then try becoming a vegan for the first time, it feels really time-consuming, checking ingredients (that pesky lactose hides everywhere!) and sourcing new recipes – even cooking meat substitutes is a learning curve. However, I promise when it becomes a habit, it takes very little time and energy, and although everyone makes mistakes – I messed up a couple of times and had some non-vegan pasta and biscuits – over time it becomes easier and easier and cooking vegan becomes second nature!
Here are a couple of things I’ve found from my Veganuary experience: firstly, the simplest way to change my mind about eating dairy is to make myself habitually remember why I want to give it up. I have no desire to eat meat but I do crave posh cheese (!) and if I’m not careful I will just allow myself to follow that craving. It can be an internal battle sometimes especially when there is not an easily accessible vegan alternative (a good reason why having nice vegan food in the fridge works wonders!) however, by keeping the motivation at the front of my mind to stop dairy cows from suffering, I can actually feel my habits changing and the food I reach for is more likely to be vegan. (Side note, most bourbon biscuits are vegan, hooray!)
The other realisation I had is that compared to previous years there is some just gorgeous vegan food out there now! Supermarkets have been fantastic and really got on board. This month I discovered vegan meatballs, vegan bacon and salted caramel vegan chocolate which I would never have known did not contain dairy. A huge improvement on the early days where carob was the only vegan chocolate alternative I found.
Twenty years ago I was part of an animal rights organisation yet out of our whole group only one person was vegan, the rest of us were vegetarian. Now, half a million people signed up for Veganuary this year, many of whom will or hope to continue as a vegan in some form. Veganism has become ‘normal’ and I think this reflects the collective wish we have as citizens of the world to protect the animals who share this world with us, improve our health and to do our best to create a better world for everyone for the future. If we keep changing our habits, little by little, we will see the change we hope for.
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