Veganuary, vegruary, vegarch…er… megan… um…, either way, I see myself as still being a vegan in March and beyond. I’ve enjoyed the challenges of the past few weeks, not to mention the money saved and a lot of it is down to the support of like-minded people on the Veganuary Facebook page. The website is full of helpful tips and advice including an eating-out guide to help make the transition to veganism as easy as possible.
Veganuary was launched three years ago in 2014 by Matthew Glover and Jane Land. Their vision is to see a world united in the ideal that all animals should be able to live cruelty free and every human forgoing meat, including all products derived from animals in any way. And I agree wholeheartedly that this should be so, but it’s a Utopian vision that whilst many people dream of becoming a reality, not every vegan becomes one for the ideology of a fluffy bunny future. Many people are joining the vegan ranks for environmental reasons as well and there are times when these two ethical groups clash. They are to a degree ideologically incompatible. One advocates animal welfare with a secondary thought to the environment, the other, environmental welfare with a secondary thought to the animals. Although both are valid, there seems at times to be little rational compromise. And there needs to be. Vegans advocate replacing leather with manmade materials but what about the impact that the making of these replacement products have on an already quavering eco-system? The answer would seem to be plant-based materials but even that can then be turned into a multi-million industry where land is raped of life and dignity. Smaller communities may go some way to offset the big industries, with the pledge ‘Reuse, Recycle, Reduce’ being the mantra for a less consumerist society.
Consumerism is the religion of the 21st century and like many religions before it, only a select few have access to the pulpit, dictating what we buy into and when. Whichever route you take on your vegan journey, unity and resistance will be the only way to topple the consumerist deity from a throne gilded from the backs of the mindless masses.
Eating a plant-based diet makes sense not only for the animals, but from an environmental point of view too. Take, for example, a kilo of beef. From growing the grain to feed the cow that needs water to drink and the occasional washdown to the slaughter process, uses 15,415 litres of water, now compare that to a kilo of grain at approximately 1,644 litres (link). That’s just per kilo! Imagine the water saved when we take into account the 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of animals raised for the meat industry. This is just one of a number of environmental factors.
Besides the future of the animals on the planet we call home, the many followers of Veganuary have one other big thing in common, the love of good food. Being vegan isn’t just about nibbling on green leaves and eating lentils (though a sizeable amount does get eaten), it’s also about filling, healthy food that’s generally pleasing to the eye. It’s about breaking the rules of what food goes with what, it’s about cooking outside of your comfort zone but most of all, it’s about enjoying the food that you eat. To this end, Veganuary have put together a substantial database of recipes covering the flavours of several nationalities, ranging from breakfast ideas to eating vegan on a budget.
To celebrate Veganuary’s success, I’m making sweet treats this week. As I generally avoid processed food, and the fact that I don’t have sugar in coffee, I’ve barely touched sugar since the 1st of Veganuary so this a treat for me too. Naturally, there’s chocolate, but as it’s dairy-free dark chocolate, it’s got to be good for me, right?
From the Veganuary site, I’m making Chocolate and Date Flapjack and Oaty Cranberry and Coconut Crumbles. Both the recipes have oats in which are full of heart healthy goodness by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. They are full of fibre, ensuring a healthy gut and importantly for vegans, contain protein and calcium. The dates are also high in dietary fibre and like the oats, also have small amounts of protein and calcium. Actually, by adding some Vitamin C in there in the form of dried apricots instead of cranberries, they would make decent breakfast bars for the odd occasion. I say the odd occasion because they do contain added sugar and I wouldn’t recommend eating sugary foods too often.
Before we get on to the recipes themselves, I just want to leave a link to a recipe that one of the members,Sara Earl, of the Veganuary Facebook page found, ‘Vegan Mushroom and Walnut Bourguignon’. She cooked it up and served it with a mash of potato and broad beans. It looked so appetising and as a lover of anything mushroom, I’m definitely going to be trying this sometime soon.
For more member favourites, visit the Facebook Veganuary site.