Veganuary – Going Cold Tofurky.

2018’s Veganuary campaign broke all records, growing by 183% with 168,542 people signing up to go vegan for January. With this in mind, an eye-opening viewing of Netflix’s ‘Cowspiracy’ and a day of vegan education courtesy of Mildred’s earlier in the year, I decided to take the plunge this year and give it a go.

For me this was no mean feet, I can’t stress how much I love cheese, furthermore I spend most of my days around the most incredible food, being fortunate enough to work in our pubs. In about October, I had decided to go pescatarian with a view to one day become vegetarian, so I was only a hop, skip and a jump away from veganism in a way and therefore not too phased about the inevitable lack of meat in my diet. Also following the indulgent Christmas I had had, the health benefits of veganism were calling out to me. So, with two more days to go, here’s what happened when I went vegan for a month, and some tips I learned along the way if anyone is considering making the change.

Firstly, I was told I would drop weight like there was no tomorrow. For me, I haven’t necessarily found this to be the case, I am fairly healthy and exercise regularly having recently lost some weight so actually found that my weight was stable throughout the month (this could have something to do with the many packets of crisps I consumed), but nonetheless I neither gained or lost.

My taste buds and sense of smell were heightened. I began to appreciate the flavours in foods and my spice cupboard certainly grew as I learned of new combinations. If you saw me in week 3, I was able to sniff out what was on the specials that day just by being in the building, I felt like I had some kind of superpower!

I will hold my hands up, I can be a bit of a caffeine fiend, but veganism certainly broke my habit. Almost immediately, I had more energy, waking up was so much easier and where I would normally have a lull in energy in the afternoons, I found I had a surge. This was a welcome surprise and a huge plus throughout January.

Finally, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the food. If I could give you one piece of advice before going vegan – PREPARE YOUR CUPBOARDS. Before I knew it, New Year’s Day was upon me and all I had suitable for a vegan diet was a bag of crisps and a peach. That wasn’t the best way to start off my new diet, but I persevered, went shopping and stocked up on all kinds of goods; Tofurky, Vegan Cheddar, Nutritional Yeast and Hummus to mention a few. I cooked some great dishes at home using cookbooks I had invested in prior and I honestly feel I am a better cook for it. Fortunately for me I didn’t have to make all my meals, as I am very lucky that I get to work in our wonderful gastropubs headed up by some great chefs. Over the month I have attended Vegan nights and Veggie nights throughout the pubs and tried some amazing vegan specials. A few highlights to mention; Red Thai Tofu Curry at The Star & Garter’s weekly Tuesday veggie night in Leamington and Sweet Potato Gnocci at The Swan in Salford. Even if you’re not attending a vegan evening there is plenty on offer as many of our dishes are adaptable to veganism, my favourite is definitely a vegan Sunday roast!

Will I continue on my vegan journey? Well, I’ve decided to hit pause for now until I have educated myself further and more importantly eaten enough cheese to make up for the past 29 days (and counting…)