/ Food & Drink

Veganuary: have you gone vegan for January?

vegan

It’s Veganuary and supermarkets and restaurant chains are steadily picking up on the growing trend for plant-based eating. Our guest author, Hannah Jolliffe, asks if you’ve been tempted?

January is fast replacing Lent as the time to cut things out of our diets. First was ‘Dry January’, encouraging us to purge our bodies of alcohol after the excesses of Christmas, and then came Veganuary, a time to turn our diets to plant-based meals.

What’s the point of Veganuary?

Slightly off-putting name aside, I like the idea of Veganuary. While I enjoy eating meat, I am mindful not to have it every day and generally consume a much higher proportion of vegetarian food. I guess that makes me a ‘flexitarian’.

However, my flexitarian diet goes out of the window at Christmas, and by January, I often feel bloated by too many roasts, cold meat platters and sausage rolls. Plus, I fear what all this meat-eating is doing to the environment.

That’s why I’ve gone vegetarian for January this year – I’d like to smugly say I’ve gone vegan, but the thought of a whole month without cheese is too much.

Supermarkets go vegan

But with veganism seemingly going mainstream, I’m now wondering if I could have managed it after all.

Supermarkets, in particular, have expanded their range of vegan products. Tesco has just launched a ‘Wicked Kitchen’ range of 18 vegan-friendly ready meals including a ‘naked’ burrito, mushroom Bolognese and a carrot pastrami-spiced wrap. Ocado has also added 90 vegan products to its dedicated vegan site this month.

But it isn’t just food that can catch you out when cutting animal products from your diet – veganism also involves careful research of drinks, including alcohol.

Luckily, supermarkets have this one covered, too – Co-op is expanding its vegan wine range to 100 products by the end of the year, with eight due to launch next month.

Restaurant chains are also getting in on the vegan act, with Pizza Express and Pizza Hut both selling vegan-friendly cheese toppings, and Wagamama offering several vegan dishes. London has even just seen the first 100% vegan pub open its doors to the public.

This vegan malarkey is sounding easier by the minute.

Cashing-in on the vegan trend?

According to The Vegan Society, there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain in 2016: three-and-a-half times as many as estimated in 2006. And last year, one in three people said they were trying to reduce their meat intake leading to more than half of UK adults adopting ‘vegan-buying behaviour’.

Clearly, these are statistics that are making supermarkets rub their hands together with glee – and, in my opinion, some appear to be taking advantage.

Take the Marks & Spencer cauliflower ‘steak’, which has now been withdrawn from sale. Priced at £2, it was essentially a slice of cauliflower with a bit of dressing and came in a lot of unnecessary packaging. A whole cauliflower generally costs a quid or less… the words rip and off spring to mind.

Going vegan

To me, eating vegan or veggie foods isn’t necessarily about dedicating our whole lives to diets free of animal products, but about reducing the amount of meat we eat and being more selective about its origin when we do.

If new vegan products on supermarket shelves help move us in this direction, then I’m all for it (minus the cauliflower steaks, of course).

This is a guest contribution by Hannah Jolliffe. All views expressed here are Hannah’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.

Have you gone vegan for January? Are you or have you been tempted by vegan products? How do you rate them? Could they persuade you to go wholly vegan?

Comments
Member

I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a great deal of meat compared with many people. I do eat fish and had a very nice fish pie for Sunday lunch. I have not bought chicken for a few years.

I am not ready for vegan but very happy to eat vegetarian meals. I actually enjoy eating lots of vegetables, cereals etc, but milk, cheese and eggs are still essentials for me.

Member

Since working in London I have found I am eating a lot less meat. I think this is due to the vast amount of choice – compared to my small town, which has limited choices, but a lot of butchers.

I am fascinated to learn more about vegan-friendly foods and like to try new things where possible, but I am not sure I am ready to make the full commitment. Cheese would be the hardest to give up, for me.

Member

We do seem to have a fixation about meat. Maybe that will change. Cheese if one of the reasons that I’m not planning to go vegan.

Member
Adrian Bryce says:
28 January 2018

That’s because it’s addictive due to Casomorphin which is one of the opioid compounds formed in our stomachs when we drink milk.
The reason I stopped consuming dairy products, is the unconscionable cruelty that vulnerable innocent beings have to suffer for something as trivial as palate pleasure, I couldn’t allow animals to suffer for something so selfish on my part.

Member

The reason I consume milk is not because it is addictive but because it makes a useful contribution to my nutrient intake. I would be happy to pay more for milk if that would mean better animal husbandry. I drink milk but would not buy veal because of concern about animal welfare.

Member

I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years so thought I would take the vegan challenge for January this year. It’s been pretty easy to follow at home, less so when eating out. The only thing I’ve really missed is halloumi and paneer, but other than that I’ve found that avoiding eggs, milk, chocolate and cheese has been relatively easy. The most frustrating thing is that lots of products contain milk or eggs unexpectedly hidden in their ingredients. I never usually eat ready meals but I did treat myself to one of Tesco’s new Wicked meals last week (masala curry with chickpeas, cauliflower, bhajis, spinach and coconut rice), and it was delicious! I also recommend Pret’s curried chickpea and mango chutney sandwich.

Member

They sound delicious! I went to Krakow last year and there was a lot of vegan restaurants. One chain of vegan burger restaurants were very common, I saw them more than I saw McDonald’s or Burger King, which I thought was great.

If there were more eating out options for vegans,do you think you could make the switch full-time?

Member

That’s interesting to hear about Krakow, Alex. I think availability and ease are big issues when it comes to convincing people. We’ve got used to convenience and if it’s more readily available then people will try vegan without even realising. Like MJM says, it’s still quite hard eating out as a vegan in the UK – but things are definitely shifting.

Member
Patricia says:
27 January 2018

There’s no reason not to eat chocolate since many are vegan. The Coop’s own-brand orange-flavoured is my favourite, even better than Ritter Sport Halbbitter, which is no longer available in the UK.
Just read the label and watch out for butterfat as well as milk.
There’s also Booja Booja & Plamil ……