January, the month of resolutions; we ditch booze and grab our running shoes. January is also synonymous with ‘Veganuary’ – a non-profit started in 2014 – which encourages people to become vegan for a month.
This January marks two years since I became vegan. Previously, I was someone who ate everything: moose, veal, snails, you name it, I’ve eaten it. Nowadays, I’m often asked what I eat. It’s tricky to answer, not because
of perceived limitations but because of the variety.
I see veganism as a habit not a diet. I experiment with vegetables and legumes inspired by abundant recipes
on the internet and in cookbooks to make satiating meals.
The ingrained idea that a meal is incomplete without meat can be satisfied by meat alternatives. But substituting grated mushrooms, for example, for ground beef in bolognese is cheaper and gives the now disused cheese grater a newfound purpose.
I spoke to Sarah Philpott, author of The Seasonal Vegan, who also advocates using familiar ingredients: “Use what’s in your cupboards, tins of beans, dried lentils, to make a delicious, hearty meal that everyone can enjoy.”
Acquaint yourself with ingredients labels – a surprising amount of foods are already vegan, even prawn cocktail crisps! But beware, milk powder lurks in the most unsuspecting foods. Dining out is now easier but forward planning is, however, essential – although, if you’re like me and enjoy scouring recipes or contemplating dinner during breakfast, that’ll be a piece of (vegan) cake.
If you buckle by eating a chunk of cheese or rack of lamb – that’s ok. You’re assimilating a new habit which
takes time. It’s a case of trial and error, discovering your likes and dislikes; tofu isn’t for everyone. Philpott also encourages this holistic approach: “It’s about being pragmatic and realistic; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
I went for the whole shebang because that worked for me. Eating vegan once or twice a week is a good starting point and eventually it’ll become second nature.
Perhaps Veganuary 2021 might see you resolving to sign up – not to deny yourself, but to adopt a new habit.
Words by Rhiannon Du Cann
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This article was originally published as part of The Indiependent’s December 2020 charity magazine, which raised money for Shelter. Find out more here.
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