Published On: Tue, Dec 5th, 2017

Could you try going vegan this January?

Veganuary’s chief executive Simon Winch explains why so many people take part in Veganuary each year, and why he hopes you will sign up too…

Could you try going vegan this January?

Evanna Lynch

In 2017, 60,000 people pledged to try veganism for January, and Veganuary’s Ambassadors – including Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter), Jasmine Harman (A Place in the Sun), comedian Carl Donnelly and Leeds Rhinos rugby league star, Anthony Mullally, are encouraging thousands more to sign up for January 2018.

For animals

The number one reason that people try veganism is to protect animals. From the invasive process of artificial insemination to the grinding up alive of unwanted chicks, animals suffer the world over so people can eat their meat, milk and eggs. One of the revelatory moments that many Veganuary participants, including Jasmine Harman, experience is the realisation that cows make milk for their calf, not for people. They can’t help but ask: what happens to the calf?

For the environment

Animal farming emits more climate-changing gases than the entire global transport network. Switching to a plant-based diet requires less land, water and energy. It also prevents deforestation, causes less pollution and does not harm the oceans’ delicate ecosystems or drive aquatic extinctions. It’s great news all round.

Could you try going vegan this January?

Jasmine Harman

For health

Each year, we ask Veganuary participants what physical changes they experience during the month, and among the most common responses are: ‘my skin cleared up’; ‘my digestion got a whole lot better’; ‘my sinuses are clearer’; ‘I sleep better’ and ‘I have more energy’. What is really interesting is the number of people who report better mental clarity, increased concentration and a levelling out of moods. Some people saide their depression symptoms were relieved. Not bad in 31 days!

In the long term, though, it’s even better news as a plant-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and some cancers.

Vegan for 31 days

So you think you’d like to try going vegan for January? That’s great! Register at Veganuary.com and you’ll receive daily emails that offer shopping lists, an eating-out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans and answers to common questions. You will also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where you can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are also competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month.

It’s an open, welcoming, exciting experience, and 99 per cent of participants say they recommend taking part.

Could you try going vegan this January?

Carl Donnelly

What do I do next?

Once you’ve registered, we suggest you go and have a look in your cupboard. The biggest pitfall is waking up on January 1st, having not thought about what you are going to eat, and then having to make your first vegan breakfast out of half a cucumber and some ketchup. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Your cupboard is already full of vegan items, including peanut butter, Marmite, jams and marmalades, baked beans, pasta, rice, almost all bread, many types of gravy granules, vegetable stock cubes, chopped tomatoes, oven chips and hash browns, coconut milk, lots of curry pastes, many breakfast cereals, herbs, spices, tomato ketchup and HP sauce, mustard and pickles, sugars and sweeteners, olive oil and vegetable oils, soy sauce, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee, lots of biscuits, crackers, crispbreads and crisps, and of course fruit and vegetables – fresh, dried, tinned and frozen.

Be prepared

With a little preparation, there will be no major upheaval, and we suggest you start by buying plant milk and a dairy-free spread – a choice of each can be found in every supermarket. That way, coffee and toast is still on the menu. Since many breakfast cereals are vegan (look out for honey) and you’ll find dairy-free yoghurts in most stores, you are already well on your way.

As a starting point, think about the meals you normally prepare and ask yourself: how can I make it vegan? If you’re not sure, join the Veganuary Facebook group and ask! There are thousands of people who will be only too willing to advise, and most meals, including shepherd’s pie, pizza, curry, casseroles, spaghetti bolognaise, stir-fry and chilli, can be veganised with just a couple of minor changes.

Could you try going vegan this January?

Jack Monroe

What will I eat?

Most Veganuary participants say they come out of the experience eating a much broader range of foods and, far from being restrictive, it opens up a whole new culinary world. Of course, there will be a period of adjustment, of label-reading and online searching, but you will soon get into the vegan groove and it will become second nature. There is a vegan version of almost everything you could want available on the high street – including ready-meal lasagnes, cheesecakes and croissants – you just need to know where to find them.

Being allergic to gluten, soya or nuts is no barrier to taking part. Veganuary has created special meal plans to help you, and we can offer advice on where to buy the best vegan free-from products.

What if I mess up?

It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. No one is judging you. If a late-night kebab is your undoing, or you pick up a cheese sandwich out of habit, it’s OK. Just start again tomorrow.

What next?

Well, that’s up to you. 66 per cent of people who took part in January 2027 said they enjoyed the experience so much they have remained vegan. Most of those who chose not to stay vegan say they have reduced their consumption of animal products significantly. But only you will know what 31 days as a vegan will do for you, and whether it is something that will change how you eat in the future.

In the words of Team GB Triathlete and Veganuary Ambassador, Dan Geisler: “I would definitely recommend going vegan for a month because you can carry on living your normal way and you could be the best runner, cyclist, author, or whatever it is you do on your current diet, but if you just try veganism for a month, you might be better.’

Eight months after taking part in Veganuary, Dan took a silver medal at the World Triathlon Championships. He has decided to stay vegan.

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