Veganuary – what is it and will you take the pledge?
From the official website: “Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.” Basically it’s a challenge to cut out meat, dairy, and animal by-products for a month. Taking the pledge via their website will not only add you to the annual statistics, it will provide you with support, recipes, tips and encouraging reasons to continue your journey throughout the month and indeed thereafter if that’s something you choose to do. Since its conception five years ago, Veganuary pledges have more than doubled each year and 2018 saw veganism go mainstream with weekly news headlines, supermarkets introducing new products, and restaurants catering to vegans. Vegans are no longer the crazy hippy stereotype, they have long been athletes, doctors, and now your next door neighbours.
Why try a vegan diet?
We all like animals and don’t like the idea of them being hurt (unless you have some serious issues!) “But bacon tastes so good” is the retort every vegan hears to that statement and this type of joke/defense is completely understandable in a society raised eating animals. But suddenly, veganism has become less of a joke…
The recent surge in Veganuary pledges and indeed veganism in general comes after the most comprehensive scientific analysis of farming to date concluded that a vegan diet is not only better for animals but better for humans and the planet too. Joseph Poore, of Oxford University, who led the research, said: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth – not just greenhouse gases but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
So you want to give it a go but you think it’s going to be difficult?
The best thing about Veganuary is how positive and inclusive it is. It comes at the perfect time of year to try something new (we see you resolutioners), and it should be approached with fun in mind and not seen as entirely restrictive. If you trip up along the way just pick yourself up and keep going. A vegan diet isn’t all that difficult, with a bit of practice it just takes a while to create the habit. Confused reading labels? Buy and cook fresh fruit, veg and other wholefoods like rice, grains, beans, and legumes, or check out this handy label reading guide. Vegan food isn’t “rabbit food”, a great deal of what you already have in your kitchen cupboards is vegan. With basic staples you can create delicious plates of all types of world cuisines minus the animals. Enjoy cooking new things, or recreate old recipes. Haven’t got time? Batch cook. A big pot and a stove top and you’re set. Ten or even five years ago eating plant-based was certainly a bit tougher variety-wise in supermarkets, especially if you like the odd sweet treat. Eating out at restaurants wasn’t great either if you weren’t a massive fan of salads. Nowadays it’s so much easier, with lots of restaurants catering to vegans, or even having exclusively vegan menus for everyone to enjoy.
What about health?
Will you get enough protein? It’s a myth that a vegan diet is low in protein. The same goes for calcium. Once your meals are sufficiently balanced you will be fine. B12? Make sure you eat B12 fortified foods (this can also apply to non-vegans and everybody over 50), if you’re going vegan long-term you might consider taking B12 supplements. Vitamin D? We live in Ireland and the days are short right now, get out as much as you can in daylight and eat fortified foods. Otherwise, if you’re eating a good balanced plant-based diet with plenty of fresh food and some beans and chickpeas thrown in, you’re all good. There’s lots of helpful information and guidance on the Veganuary Starter Kit https://veganuary.com/starter-kit/
Small Changes has never sold meat or dairy, and we have a range of alternatives like nut/oat/rice/coconut/soya milk, cheese, tofu, seitan, tempeh etc. We also stock a certain magical dust called Nutritional Yeast which is fortified with B12, has a nutty cheesy flavour, and is perfect sprinkled on tomato based dishes, baked potato, or used as the base for mac n cheese. For more tips like this don’t hesitate to drop into us if you need anything, even if it’s just a few words of encouragement or a recipe. Below is a list of resources to help you along your way.
The Official Veganuary Website where you can take the pledge and find lots of information.
The Happy Pear YouTube Channel has some easy to follow healthy recipes including 5 minute dinners.
The Avant Garde Vegan YouTube Channel is great for meal prep ideas and has a gluten-free section for anyone who may need it.
The Veghuns instagram is full of tips, and the huns are on the ball when it comes to any treat-yourself easy foods available in shops.
Our own recipes…of course! We haven’t got a lot up yet but JR and Finn are on hand if you need guidance.