Did YOU have a great Veganuary? It turns out a lot of people did! The numbers are in and there were 59,500 participants worldwide in 2017 and 39,328 were from the UK. In 2014, when Veganuary kicked off 3,300 people took part, so this is a huge leap in participants resulting in around 5million animal-free meals being consumed during January! How amazing is this? Very amazing. Very very amazing.
Today I have an interview with a chum of mine who took part in Veganuary. Pamela Hutchinson is a freelance writer and film critic who lives in Walthamstow, east London. She blogs about silent cinema at SilentLondon.co.uk, and she has been keeping a record of her Veganuary experience at 93veganmeals.wordpress.com. She’s ace! I’ve asked her a few questions because I am very nosy and because I could tell that Pamela was rocking Veganuary. Hard. Take it away Pamela:
1/ Did you enjoy Veganuary?
It was a total blast. As much fun as any project involving copious amounts of celery and nutritional yeast could possibly be.
2 What made you give it a go?
Well your blog definitely nudged me. Loads of inspiration there. I was vegetarian for 20 years, so I had been thinking about veganism for roughly … 20 years, and I was slowly beginning to realise that veganism was tastier than I had thought. More importantly, I couldn’t keep my head in the sand about the dairy and egg industries any longer.
3/ Was it harder/easier than you’d expected?
Much easier. I was one of those tedious people who always said I could never go vegan, and then one day there I was blending some cashew nuts, happy as a lamb in spring. It reinvigorated my love of cooking, so I have been making lots of new and old recipes, using as many vegetables as humanly possible.
4/ Was there any non-vegan food you really missed?
Cheese, but I didn’t really crave it as I have eaten enough of it to last me a lifetime. It was more a case of coming up with meal ideas that didn’t involve it. Same with eggs. I expected to miss scrambled and fried eggs but so far not at all.
5/ What was your fave vegan discovery?
I was surprised by how delicious Sacla’s free-from pesto is. Really liked it, and although it’s not cheap, I will treat myself to that again. And vegan haggis, which is an absolute bargain. The other big discovery was how much my other half loved Linda McCartney sausages – more than the Cauldron ones I used to buy.
6/ Was there anything you tried & really didn’t like?
Well … I am struggling with vegan cheese. Perhaps I need to take a break from it for a while. And my husband kept eating it anway. I couldn’t get oat milk to stay stable in tea or coffee, so sticking with almond for now, which is fine by me.
7/ Did you have any slip-ups?
None that I know of, although when I ordered a vegan dish in Wagamama the waiter kept winking at me. What’s that all about?
8/ How did friends, family & colleagues react?
Everyone I mentioned it to was very supportive, and to be honest my friends and family were not that surprised given my two decades of vegetarianism. That said, I work mostly from home so didn’t have to put up with people peering at my lunchbox or whatever. I was a very lovely, non-judgmental colleague to myself, always happy to put the kettle on.
9/ Was there anything you expected to be vegan that you were surprised to find actually isn’t?
Figs. Though that’s a moot point, and I only ever ate them with cheese and honey anyway. And Baxters lovely vegetarian tinned soups, which I already miss. Please take the honey out of the wholemeal minestrone flavour, Ms Baxter.
10/ Was there anything you expected not to be vegan that you were surprised to find actually is?
I knew about a lot of things such as meat-flavoured crisps and Oreo biscuits, but I’m not bothered by those. Shame on me, though, I didn’t realise that most dark chocolate was vegan. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I do like dark chocolate, so I am very happy with that discovery indeed.
11/ Did you learn anything new as a result of Veganuary?
Definitely that I was putting too much cheese on pizza and pasta. It kinda tastes better without. Or at least, I know now that I was masking the other flavours with cheese. And that more people I know are vegan or vegan-curious than I thought. I had lots of supportive and useful comments from pals online.
12/ Did you eat any amazing meals out & about?
Well we went for a special meal out at Manna, which I have loved for a long time. But I knew that would be good. How could I not try the amazing Club Mexicana food at Pamela too? That was amazing. I had a fabulous Buddha Bowl at Redemption and delicious vegan ramen at Shoryu in Soho.
I often travel to film festivals as part of my job, which means grabbing food between movies in the nearest place. I was a little worried about that, but I have to say that the menu at the café in the Watershed cinema in Bristol is amazing. I had the most delicious bean and cavalo nero stew, which was just one of the vegan options.
13/ Will you be changing your lifestyle at all as a result of Veganuary?
Yes. Going vegan. No question about it. I know it will be difficult – especially when I’m abroad at festivals in France and Italy this year – but I will do my very, very best.
14/ Anything you’d like to add?
Please don’t think that I am shallow (although I really am), but I lost half a stone and my skin looks much nicer – my face is glowing and my eczema is disappearing. But let’s not finish with that. I do want to say that it’s been a really positive change for me – I feel better and so much happier about what’s on my plate and my impact on the environment. One of the best things is that now I feel I can shamelessly coo over pictures of cute animals without any guilt. I have always loved pigs, after all.
Wham Bam thank you Pam! What a cracking way to start 2017. Anyone else think that the waiter at Wagamamas was vegan!? Ha! Did you have a crack at Veganaury? How did you find it? For those who missed out on Veganuary but are interested in experiencing a vegan diet I can personally vouch for the Vegan Society’s Vegan Pledge – 30 days of support, advice and recipes to help you explore veganism. Yee-haw!