Food & Drink Muse

Veganuary: Planting seeds for change

Emily Harvie discusses the challenges of transitioning from a vegetarian to a vegan

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Image Credit: Mittmac

A new year is upon us and with each year there are new trends and resolutions that dominate Instagram for the first two weeks of January. People decide to post gym pics and write essays about how this year will be the year they turn their lives around. Possibly one of the biggest new year trends of recent years would be to go vegan for the whole of January: or in other words, partake in Veganuary. I must admit, I am one of those people joining the trend and testing out whether I could survive a vegan lifestyle. I am basically a vegetarian through my diet anyway, so cutting out meat was by far the easiest step to take at the beginning of this month (although I do already miss chicken). Furthermore, I don’t eat eggs or cows’ milk so they were also pretty simple in switching out. However, the money I save on not buying cheese to have on pretty much every meal I eat in university goes straight on almond milk which is frustratingly expensive regardless of where I buy it from (because soya is still bad for the environment, even though it is still better than cows milk). However, I will forever remain incapable of becoming fully vegan for the sole reason that chocolate exists on this planet. I don’t care what anyone says but vegan chocolate does not taste the same as Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and with Veganuary taking place straight after Christmas, it has been torture knowing that I have a stash of leftover Christmas chocolates in my drawer at uni, hidden away until February. Interestingly, I am surprised at how difficult it is to shop for vegan-friendly food. My favourite crisps have milk in them, and a note to all those thinking of trying veganism: just because it says ‘lactose free’, does not mean it’s vegan. If you go out for a meal, you are almost always limited to a small corner of the menu where you will find something vegan. Otherwise you end up reinventing the menu to the poor person taking your order. However, I have several friends who are vegan and have been for a while now who can testify that businesses are rapidly becoming far more vegan-friendly in their stores and menus and York has an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes that are both healthy and tasty. I would now say mixed beans and tinned lentils are my new favourite ingredients to be added to any sauce for a vegan alternative. With these substitutes I have been able to educate myself on portion sizes and ingredients that give the same level of protein and vitamins that I have lost from cutting out animal products. This was easily my biggest concern before this month began. Instead I would say that I feel more energised and full after each meal and get that confidence boost everyone is guilty of when you successfully eat healthily as a uni student. Veganuary is a great excuse to give a new lifestyle a chance and although I have felt the torture of leftover Christmas snacks, I do feel incredibly healthy whenever I cook a meal. It does feel rewarding knowing that I am following a healthy, eco-friendly diet even if just for 31 days. I would say this diet has been definitely worth my time, despite the fact that I most probably will not remain vegan after January ends. Honestly, I just love chocolate and cheese too much and the time-consuming nature of reading the ingredients for each thing I buy is just too much effort for my lazy Morrisons trips. Exploring a vegan lifestyle has given me a greater insight into ways to incorporate fewer animal products in your life and just generally eat a bit healthier day-to-day. I will be taking some of the new recipes I have found when trying to substitute my staple spaghetti bolognese or chicken curries. Plus, as always, double-stuffed Oreos are the best vegan-friendly snack to exist.

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