Veganuary; The Growing Movement
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
New year, new you; our resolutions are fresh and currently holding strong and many of us are trying to make those small changes to improve our lives or the lives of others. One such change that is taking the UK by force is Veganuary; a month in the lifestyle of a vegan.
There was a point in time where veganism could have been considered a fad or a trend, but that time has long since passed. Veganism, once associated with tie-dye wearing hippies and perceived as trendy, yet short-lived, has moved into the realms of a life choice not dissimilar to ones political or religious alignment.
Launched in 2014, the Veganuary campaign aims to give curious omnivores and vegetarians the change to try veganism for a month with recipes and advice to support them. In its launch year, 3,300 people signed up and that number has grown steadily year-on-year with a whopping 168,000 sign-ups in January 2018. The data from this year so far suggests that this trend is set to continue, with 14,000 people signing up to Veganuary on Sunday alone.
There are many reasons behind vegan-curiosity and the growing numbers of vegans in the UK. For many, it is their opposition to industrial agriculture and animal cruelty but equally reasons pertaining to food sustainability, climate change and overall health are cited by those following a vegan lifestyle.
There is no doubt, veganism is on the rise and it is here to stay. One in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan, and a further 21% say they are flexitarian – that is to say they have a largely vegetable-based diet, supplemented occasionally with meat. In 2018, the number of vegans in the UK skyrocketed to over 3.5million and many companies, both small and large-scale are cottoning on to the ever-growing demand for plant-based products. So if you are Veganuary curious or you’ve already signed up, Grow Talk are here to provide you with a little extra support to get you through the first month of the New Year.
Fast Food Cravings
Yes it’s January and many of us are trying to fight that Christmas bulge, but every now and then those fast food cravings may become too much to bear. The great news is that you can still enjoy a cheeky craving indulgence without breaking your vegan resolution.
Following a petition organised by Peta, bakery giant Greggs has launched a vegan sausage roll this week. Yes, you read that right. Greggs aims to keep the classic features of its standard sausage roll; 96 layers of light and crisp puff pastry, but made with vegetable oil, and a meaty-not-meaty “bespoke” Quorn filling (The Guardian). Chief executive of Greggs, Roger Whiteside, explains:
“Like many food retailers we have seen increasing demand for vegetarian and vegan products.
“We have been trying to develop a vegan version of our famous sausage roll for some time now. It has not been easy but our taste panel customers all love this one, so we have decided to launch it as our contribution to Veganuary.”
Greggs also added a savoury Mexican Bean Vegan Wrap to its sandwich range in May last year.
Another quick vegan lunchtime offering comes from Café Nero who offer a Sweet Potato and Beetroot Houmous Wrap or for something a little more substantial, an Orzo Pasta and Mediterranean Veg Hot Pot.
You’d be surprised how many of your favourite take-away heroes can cater to vegan needs. Many fish and chip shops now offer a vegan alternative to fish, there has been a rise in vegan pies and Indian food, much of which is already vegetarian depending on the region, can also be easily adapted to vegan. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
Dining out dilemmas
If you have a birthday, office outing or romantic night on the cards in January, you may be feeling more than a little apprehensive about the potential vegan fare on offer. While it is true that not all restaurants cater for vegans, an ever-increasing number are and, more than that, are doing it well.
For nationwide chains, Wagamama offer a great range of vegan meal choices, from starters like Yasai Gyoza to scrummy mains like Yasai Pad-Thai.
If you’re in the market for something a little more Mediterranean, then Italian chain Zizzi are ready for your appetites with their four vegan cheese pizza.
You may find yourselves at Wetherspoons before (or after) a night out or for a chilled and cheap dinner and luckily, they cater pretty well for vegans. Wetherspoons offers Pasta Pomodoro, Sweet Chickpea & Spinach Curry or Vegan Chilli with Smokey Mexican Rice. They even have a vegan-friendly Apple Crumble on offer for after!
To Grow Local, Exeter are extremely fortunate to have several restaurants and cafés that cater specifically for vegetarian and vegan diets. The Plant Café on Cathedral Green has a well-established reputation for delicious plant-based food with many vegan options. Equally, Herbies on North Street holds a 4.5 star rating on Trip Advisor and caters exclusively for vegetarians and vegans. By night, The Cavern caters for Exeter’s underground music tastes but by day, vegan and vegetarian food are on the menu with meals varying from Vegan Fish and Chips and a Vegan Pulled Jackfruit Burger to an All Day Vegan Breakfast. The Flat on Fore Street, one of the newer additions to the veggie/vegan scene, offers a relaxed yet intimate atmosphere and amazingly tasty vegetarian and vegan pasta and pizza. We are even lucky enough to have a dedicated vegan café in the form of The Rabbit Café, serving breakfasts, lunches and tasty sweet treats. Their homemade cakes are so good, it earned the café a place on Peta’s Top 12 Vegan Sweet Treats across the UK.
If you’d like more dining out-spiration, Cosmopolitan have compiled a list of chain restaurants that do great vegan food. If you’d rather go local and champion the indies, then use Happy Cow to search for your nearest vegan restaurant.
How do I cook without dairy and meat?
If you’ve signed up to Veganuary, you’ll have plenty of tasty recipes delivered straight to your inbox. With veganism more popular than ever before, a quick Google of vegan recipes or entering vegan as a search term on BBC Good Food or Jamie Oliver’s websites will also turn up plenty.
It can be a challenge at first to determine what to buy, how to cook it and how to ensure you are still getting a healthy balanced diet with all of your necessary nutrients and vitamins. For this, your Veganuary emails and the website itself will have plenty of advice and tips to offer. In addition, Rooted Exeter have published a great guide to Veganuary.
CBA with cooking?
If you’re a ready-meal enthusiast, don’t panic. Vegan ready meals do exist.
Marks and Spencer launched Plant Kitchen this week, a new collection of more than 60 meat and dairy-free plant-based fresh meals, salads and snacks. It includes a vegan coleslaw and potato salad, as well as the first supermarket vegan sourdough pizza.
Online supermarket Ocado are one of the best large-scale retailers in the UK for vegan food. Stocking a number of well-known vegan makers like Fry’s, there is plenty of lazy cooking to be had here.
Many supermarket chains now also stock Amy’s Kitchen, a frozen brand that offers a range of comforting vegan ready meals. In addition, the big chains are also much better at offering their own branded products to keep up with the plant-based demand.
Is it too late to sign up?
Absolutely not. If you are considering veganism, even if it’s just for one day a week or one month of the year, sign up online and satisfy your curiosity.
If you have gone vegan for January or are a vegan veteran, we would love to hear from you. Share your stories and foodspiration with us by commenting on social media or tagging in Grow to your posts.
Happy Veganuary everyone!