At a time when your house is overflowing with Christmas treats and endless bottles of prosecco you’ve been gifted (just me?), we move straight into January, a.k.a the detox month, the get back to the gym month. Dry January. Veganuary. But I’ve still got half a tin of Quality Street and no less than three Terry’s Chocolate Oranges in the fridge, why can’t we detox in February? When How To Go Vegan written by the folks behind the Veganuary movement (an annual charity challenge to go meat and dairy-free for the whole month of January) landed on my blogger mail pile in December, the last thing on my mind was cleaning up my act. Seeing so many people in my Twitter timeline the first days of January doing this challenge, mostly because David Attenborough told them to (or something? I don’t watch Blue Planet), I had several sad, guilt-laced flashbacks to all the times I’d tried to ‘be’ vegan and miserably failed. It’s massively frustrating as I’m closer than most to achieving an animal-product free diet, I’ve been vegetarian for almost fifteen years and I’m what can only be described as ‘iffy’ about eggs and milk – only using nut mylks in things like bowls of cereal and smoothies. But if egg or milk is hidden in any of the following – pasta, cakes, ice-cream, chocolate, biscuits, pizza, cheese, and so forth – I will munch on them through a veil of ‘can’t see them so they not there’… om nom nom.
I could be vegan. Why aren’t I? I’ve watched Forks Over Knives and been so inspired I was vegan for about five days. Here’s hoping How To Be Vegan can renew my determination and make me shun those chocolate oranges for EVER! And here’s five reasons why you need this book if you’re thinking of making that meatless leap into 2018 too.
1.) How To Go Vegan makes you realise that you’re thinking about veganism because you care about something – be it animal welfare, your physical and mental health, the environment, or all of the above. You’ve got an inkling that a plant-based diet is going to help, and you should hold on to that as you start your journey.
2.) Everyone has different reasons for trying veganism, and it’s okay to admit you’re doing it for yourself and not the sweet moo-cows. The book has a whole section on personal health, spelling out the dangers of eating meat and dairy when it comes to heart disease and cancer. Testaments from people in the book say they felt cleaner and had more energy, if nothing else that’s a good way to be feeling in the grey, wintery first month of the year.
3.) How To Go Vegan will take you by your vegan-curious hand and lead you through the baffling path of ‘where to start’, even helping you with your grocery shopping and listing the things you need for a balanced, fully nutritional vegan diet. There’s recipes to get you started, advice on what to do when eating out or at friends’ houses, info on which pizza takeaways have vegan options (very important) and information on vitamin intake. There’s even a list of myths about veganism dispelled, so you will know the right thing to say when your friends and family tell you that not digesting the flesh and breast (equivalent) milk of another species is TERRIBLE for your health.
4.) The book knows that old habits die hard (oh, there’s those guilty flashbacks again), and there’s a whole section on ‘slip ups’ and serious struggles to stay on the vegan-y path. It’s good for re-focusing and remembering why you started in the first place.
5.) How To Go Vegan doesn’t end on a full stop, there’s a whole plethora of websites, books and films they recommend (I cannot recommend Simon Amstell’s Carnage enough, I think it’s still on the BBC iPlayer. It’s so funny, and hugely thought provoking), as well as the steps to take when Veganuary stops and you’re faced with that choice to keep going or go back to a life of bacon sarnies washed down with milkshakes and lard.
How To Go Vegan is available now, and you can also follow the Veganuary team here for updates, UK regional advice and recommendations, and friendly support.