Veganuary

Wednesday 3 January 2018 by

I’m a big meat-eater normally. I love meat and fish. But I’m not one of those people who are precious about it – I can easily eat a vegetarian meal over a meat dish and not feel like I’m missing anything. But I’m also gluten free, and a lot of the time I feel that if I were to cut out meat that I’d be restricting myself even further when quite often it’s hard enough to find something gluten free. It’s still taking a lot – even now – to change that mindset.

When I first started as gluten free, the options were tiny. I went from eating whatever I fancied to eating a very narrow choice of what was essentially just meat and vegetables, because most carbs (aside from rice and potatoes) were off the menu. Of course, nearly 8 years on, things have changed massively on that front – gluten free is so mainstream that I can now eat out almost anywhere, and things like pizza and pasta are back on the menu. Food restriction isn’t the same as it was before – I’m not removing food from my plate, but just changing it.

So, after a heavy few months food-wise, I realised I needed to do something to change. I needed to change my attitude towards food and give my diet the kick up the backside it needed to get me ready for my fitness challenges this year.

That’s when I heard of Veganuary.

Veganuary is a registered charity dedicated to spreading veganism to “reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve personal health.” Every January, participants pledge to spend the whole month as vegans.

This campaign speaks to my personal values. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my impact on the planet, and what better way than to start with changing my diet to something more sustainable and animal-friendly? In the end, this is a minor change to my food cupboard – I just have to get rid of the salmon and the feta cheese and replace it with more wholesome, sustainable foods. If that is all it takes to make a positive impact, then why haven’t I done it before!

January is 31 days. In a month when New Year’s Resolutions are still fresh, and there is that wonderful sense of renewal and possibility, why not make another simple change and see what happens? Even if I don’t end up being vegan permanently at the end of this, it is a good learning exercise for me – I so often end up in a food rut, and eat meat and fish more out of habit than enjoyment. Veganuary is a chance to explore food again – get excited about what I’m eating, and change my attitudes.

My next challenge is to make sure that I stick to it – especially eating out. I am well-versed in the art of looking up menus before going somewhere thanks to my gluten intolerance, so this time it will need just a little more planning and preparation. Thankfully I have a lot of vegan and vegetarian friends who can show me the ropes.

If you have any tips or recipes for eating vegan, let me know in the comments below!

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