I feel like most people have heard of Veganuary by now, but for those that don't know, Veganuary is a challenge where you pledge to abstain from eating any dairy products for the whole of January. You sign up to a Newsletter and the charity sends you all the information and encouragement you need to continue with your pledge.
I have been a vegetarian since I was around 7 (although occassionally I would eat fish and shellfish.) I didn't stop eating meat for ethical reasons exactly - I mean that's a pretty heavy decision to make at 7 - but I never liked the taste, texture or the idea of eating an animal because I loved them. I was the kind of nerdy kid that had pictures from the natural world stuck to my bedroom wall rather than the Spice Girls (like every other normal girl in the 90's!) I was also a pretty fussy eater to put it mildly, so I liked this excuse to stop parents giving me chicken and beef when I would go over to friends houses for tea.
I had been reading a fair bit on Veganism in the past few months and I was feeling more and more guilty every time I put the pint of milk or block of cheddar cheese in my shopping basket. I consumed A LOT of dairy. I love cheese and had milk in my 5 + daily cups of tea. I really thought I would never be able to live without it. But now it's the end of the challenge and I really don't think I can go back to my vegetarian diet. We have cooked so many new meals that I would never normally of cooked. Meals where I would of had a heaping of cheese, have been replaced with healthier options and now I am easily getting my 5 a day without even thinking about it. It has made me so much more aware of what I buy and what I am putting into my body. My skin is so much clearer, I am slimmer and I have way more energy. Best of all is my conscience is clear - I know that I haven't contributed to an animals suffering. I can honestly say it has changed my life for the better, I am so glad I did it.
There are lots of documentaries about Veganism and the Dairy Industry but obviously most of these aren't an easy watch. However, we saw a very funny and eye opening film by comedian and Vegan Simon Amstell called Carnage which is a more light hearted take on the subject (without skipping on the facts!) It's a documentary style sci-fi set in an Utopian future where nobody eats meat or dairy products anymore. They are looking back and trying to come to terms with the past, where people ate animals and their excretions. I've linked the trailer below. Carnage is available to watch on iPlayer.
If you are considering changing to a Vegan Diet, one thing I would say is be prepared for everyone to have an opinion on the matter! I never realised how many people cared about what I ate! You are also suddenly expected to be an absolute expert on the subject and be a well of facts and figures. So if you would like to find out a little more about it, the Veganuary website has everything you need to know. For example - here's a list of common myths about Veganism.
The easiest thing about the whole experience I have found has been giving up milk, so much so I am bewildered as to why I didn't do it sooner. Soya milk or Oat milk is even nicer in my tea! I think if you can't fathom the idea of completely cutting dairy out of your diet, that is a really easy and simple change you can make that won't make much of an impact on your daily life, but if everyone did it, that would make a huge impact on the dairy industry.
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