Since the Veganuary movement started five years ago participant numbers have more than doubled each year and a total of over 250,000 people in 193 countries have signed up. This Veganuary I decided to join them and devote myself to being wholly vegan for one month.
I was mostly eating a diet of plants anyway but the occasional piece of fish or cheese did pass my lips. Oh and I can’t exclude the sweet treats I consumed, some of which contained dairy. I’d not touched red meat for ages (years) though and had been repulsed by chicken and eggs ever since watching the 2017 documentary film What the health, which critiques the health impact of meat and dairy products consumption, and exposes the malpractices of leading health and pharmaceutical organisations which support animal consumption in highly questionable ways. Its primary purpose is to advocate a plant-based diet. But how would I fare on a 100 per cent vegan diet? Here’s how I found it..
- Being vegan is hard even in London. Many restaurants still don’t cater for vegans and I found I had to order several side dishes a lot of the time since there was a complete lack of vegan main dishes on offer.
- Where restaurants do cater for vegans the choice is pretty scarce.
- East London has the most vegan restaurants but too many “fast vegan” restaurants and not enough wholesome IMP. By wholesome I mean those served with a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit with grains, pulses and legumes versus deep fried burgers and fries etc.
- Tofu, legumes, tempeh, falafel are all great meat substitutes and filled me up just as much. Grains like quinoa and rice are also great staples.
- My eyes have been truly opened to just how many foods contain animal products. So unnecessary! You have to be meticulous checking ingredients and food labels since you can easily slip-up and eat foods containing animal products if you’re not careful . It made me pretty frustrated seeing just how many products could so easily be animal-free and taste even better.
- So many vegans get excluded from eating delicious food because there is not enough effort being made to offer them options. This needs to change. Eating vegan can be delicious and wholesome and not at all depriving when done properly.
- Vegans are still in a big minority. This means people tend to find you a bit of a bore and criticise your food choices.
- I think there’s a very undeserved assumption that all vegans consider themselves to be perfect and not do anything to harm the environment or animals. In my experience, this leads you open to attack on all your life choices. Do you wear real fur, fake fur (if yes in both cases you are doomed), do you wear leather, eat from any plastic containers drive a car, fly to different countries, leave a big carbon footprint etc? All valid questions yet I found they were asked in a rather accusational way, like people were trying to “catch me out” and expose some imperfection.
- I’m feeling great eating more fruit and vegetables and I’ve not felt deprived when there’s good vegan options. The misunderstanding that you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet is also flawed.
- Vegans are badass and I respect their mission to create a better world.
So the big question: Will I be 100 per cent vegan from now? I think the answer is yes. Well, 95 per cent of the time at least. I’m not going to say 100 per cent because I don’t feel like there are enough vegan options atm and I feel like there may be times when I come across a plant-based dish which may contain dairy and there may be no other option. I’m also going to leave it open as to whether I eat fish or seafood when I’m by the sea. Other than that though I’ll be all 🌱. I love animals and I want to do what I can to protect the environment and the creatures of the earth and sea. What’s more I really don’t feel I need meat or animals products in my diet to be healthy and may be healthier without them.
I really like the recent planetary health diet that has been devised to help the environment by cutting animal product consumption in half. I realise that for the majority of people, veganism is way too extreme for them to consider, so I want to encourage these people to take a look at the planetary health diet to see if they can make some positive changes by adhering to its principles. It is a great start.
It’s interesting that women continue to outnumber men when it comes to trying a vegan diet: 84% female compared to 14% male. Although this is an improvement on last year’s results when just 10% of participants identified as male. So come on guys, give the plants some love. You’ll be doing yourself and the planet a great service.