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gal-dem does Veganuary

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01 Feb 2017

This January a couple of your fave gal-dem decided to embark on the mission of “Veganuary”. The name is self explanatory, once every January the organisation encourages you to become a vegan for a month in the hopes that you might commit to a more permanent plant-based lifestyle change.

With the help of a few long-term vegan gal-dem as our guidance, and the website full of resources, we took on the task of Veganuary.

Hannah Gooding

For a while now, I’ve been considering going vegan. Not necessarily for animal rights reasons, but because I watched Cowspiracy and I knew I couldn’t be aware of the devastating impact that animal agriculture has on the planet and continue to eat animal products at the rate that I do. I’ve made many attempts before, having no problem cutting out meat but failing when offered a Great British milky tea or a hangover pizza.

Doing Veganuary was the kick up the backside I needed and knowing that I was doing it alongside my fellow gal-dem colleagues meant I was more motivated not to fall off the wagon. We set up a group chat to share recipes and tips, and as a result I had some really varied and exciting meals this month (except for that time I tried to make jackfruit “pulled pork”.) Also, I wasn’t having a daily breakdown in the cheese aisle like I feared.

After completing the vegan challenge, I feel so much healthier, which I think is mainly due to the variety of fruits and vegetables I’ve been eating. However, I don’t think I can commit to being 100% vegan for the rest of my life. As much as I love vegan food, I also love the occasional McDonald’s (yes I know they have a bean burger but does it really compare to a chicken mayo?), dim sum feasts with my family and travelling to countries that don’t always cater to vegans. Also, unless you’re eating out at a vegan restaurant, the vegan and vegetarian options are always so overpriced for what you get.

So I’m doing a Beyoncé, and becoming plant-based for the majority of the time, and allowing myself one non-vegan day a week. You might think this is a cop-out, but if everyone adopted this regime, we could solve so many environmental problems overnight without feeling like we were completely restricting ourselves from eating the things we love.

Niellah Arboine

Last January I decided to become a vegetarian. That was until I gave up all dreams of a meat-free life to peruse my travels in South America. This year however, after bombardments from tube advertisements of piglets and little chicks, I wanted to level-up and take on the bigger task of Veganuary.

I’ve always had the mindset of a vegan. Not only does it ethically and morally make sense to me but it also seems to have a wealth of health benefits that I wanted in on. According to the NHS, people of  “south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin, even if you were born in the UK’’ are more likely to be at risk from getting type 2 diabetes. I don’t want that fate for myself and it seems a step towards preventing this could be having more of a plant based diet.

The truth is Veganuary was hard. No longer were the days of grabbing anything off the shelf and dashing to work; now I had to painfully read every last word on the back of a product with hawk-like precision. And more often than not I was left disappointed, hungry and dreaming of camembert.

Although I didn’t make it the full month (it was more 25 days as I crumbled under the pressure of pizza), Veganuary wasn’t all bad. It taught me a lot, I saved a load of money as I was forced to stop living out my boujie dreams of eating out every other day, and it also made me more imaginative in the kitchen and less dependent on food as a comforter. Best of all I felt energised, no more food comas and meat sweats.

I can’t say that I will become vegan, but it was the boost I needed to dramatically cut the quantity of dairy and meat in my diet and have a more healthy lifestyle.

Simran Randhawa

As a pescatarian who eats plant-based 60 percent of the time, I wanted to use Veganuary to see if I could take the plunge and cut out the fish, eggs and cheese I was still eating. I found it difficult initially but having an idea of go-to meals made it much easier (such as chickpea curry and dhal) as well as thinking in terms of all the things I could eat as opposed to all the things I couldn’t.  

I found it slightly harder when I was eating out as the majority of vegan options on menus are either salads or stews, in these cases I often chose vegetarian meals as a substitute. Considering my diet was mostly plant-based before, upping my percentage wasn’t too hard once I cut out eggs, fish and cheese and I would say I managed to be vegan 85 percent of the time. I didn’t really experiment much with cooking and instead sought to ‘veganise’ the things I was already eating – like swapping scrambled eggs for scrambled tofu.

Looking past veganuary I think I will continue to experiment more with what I use and cut back on fish and cheese. There are some things I don’t think I am able to give up just yet though – like poached eggs and coco pops!

Imana Dione

I already do not eat meat and I also do not eat dairy. The reason I chose to take part in Veganuary was to challenge myself that little bit more. Saying goodbye to eggs was so hard. Who does not love avocado eggs and sourdough? This experience taught me to branch out more and experiment with substitutes. It also made me put more time into my meal preparation as I always resort to eggs as a quick fix.

What I did enjoy was figuring out what things were accidentally vegan! Like ginger nuts and fruit shortcake biscuits and best of all, Green & Black’s 85 percent chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in the online community and seeing how devoted people are to this lifestyle. FullyRawKristina is mesmerising with her recipes and positivity. London Afro Vegan is price savvy and also likes to figure out what is accidentally vegan; she also gives great advise on what vegan products to find in locals stores.

I am very glad that veganism is hitting the mainstream. A few years ago the word was as taboo as saying Voldemort. However with great information and campaigning I feel more and more people are realising it is not a ludicrous possibility and your meals can be just as fabulous.

I was already comfortable with veganism being a way of life but this month has shown me that is really is a possibility for all.


Image by Priyanka Meenakshi (@priyankameenakshi)