Food & Drink

Clean eating trend inspires Veganuary virgins to try animal-free healthy lifestyle

Every January we vow to change after overindulging during the festive season, never mind kicking the bottle or that new gym membership, our eating habits are the target of new campaign Veganuary.

Beyoncé and Jay Z famously went vegan for 22 days and since Veganuary’s launch in January 2014 it has grown rapidly in popularity.

Husband and wife team, Matthew Glover and Jane Land, founded Veganuary to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for January.

Are people ready to take the plunge and remove all animal products from their diets?

Restaurants are noticing a difference in people’s attitudes towards food as they become more health-conscious.

“I have become increasingly concerned about the sustainability of eating meat, animal cruelty and the impact of manufacturing.”

Wimbledon’s Lu-Ma restaurant serve a wide range of vegetarian and vegan food to tempt carnivores away from eating meat towards a more sustainable diet.

Lu-Ma’s marketing manager, Becca Gray, said: “People are a lot more aware about the impact manufacturing has on the environment and climate change.”

“Lu-Ma offers a balance of healthy, wholesome food, with a variety of dishes great for people who are new to vegan food.

“We have some new innovative plans for this year ­– we are looking into providing children’s cooking classes and a juicing night.”

The vegan diet is nothing new, but the attention it has won through social media and celebrity flag-waving, Ellie Goulding and Leona Lewis for example, certainly is.

New convert Iris Cohen, 25, from Forest Hill has found veganism a life-changing experience, from growing up in a deprived childhood in the Netherlands where her family would eat a lot of cheap pork products.

Iris moved to the UK more than six years ago, and struggled to adapt.

Veganuary Iris
INSPIRING IRIS: After converting to veganism Iris is launching her own deli

“I was living in London, working long hours and I didn’t really have time to eat properly,” she said.

“It was hard, I became stressed and I wasn’t sleeping well.”

Around 18 months ago she decided she’d had enough and quit her design job to start a blog and overhaul her life, starting with putting more thought into what she ate.

She said: “I started swapping the animal products out of my diet – pork was the first food to go.

“After about three weeks I noticed my acne was clearing up and I was sleeping better. I continued swapping foods until I was eating a completely vegan diet.”

Her family back in the Netherlands have been responded positively to her new lifestyle, and this year Iris will open a healthy food deli, with about 80% of products being plant-based, and will sell her own pre-made sauces there.

“I started swapping the animal products out of my diet – after about three weeks I noticed my acne was clearing up.”

Kate Stewart, 25, from Farringdon, is currently taking part in Veganuary for the first time, having been vegetarian for some time.

“I decided to try Veganuary because I have become increasingly concerned about the sustainability of eating meat, animal cruelty and the impact of manufacturing on the environment,” she said.

FIRST-TIMER: Kate is environmentally conscious

“The biggest challenge for me is in eating out, but I always try to check the menu beforehand to ensure there is something I can order.

“I am thinking about going completely vegan but I do love cheese, so I am going to order vegan cheese and see what it tastes like.”

Veganuary’s marketing manager, Clea Grady, said: “January seemed like the perfect month to launch the campaign, as people are making New Year’s Resolutions and they usually focus on health.

“Since the start of 2016, we have had over 22,000 people sign up on our website and by the end of the month we expect to have 25,000.”

Their website aims to remove obstacles preventing people from trying a vegan diet – with weekly meal plans, a vegan starter kit and eating out guide.

False assumptions that vegans must be weak, even malnourished, due to the lack of meat in their diet seem to be shifting.

You can still enjoy family favourites like shepherd’s pie, lasagne and curries – so long as you replace the meat and other animal products with vegan alternatives.

Veganuary Sinai meal with salad-tileFAMILY FEAST: Reporter Sinai shows off her vegan culinary flair

A vegan diet doesn’t mean you miss out on dessert either, with many nut or soya-based ice creams or yoghurts available in supermarkets.

If you want to bake at home there are plenty of websites and blogs that can give you a list of ingredients to make a wholesome vegan cake that doesn’t compromise on taste.

Going vegan might be difficult at first, but the key is variety. Don’t get trapped just eating carrot sticks – be brave and try something new.

Feaured picture courtesy of Hans Splinter, with thanks

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