As January is nearly upon us, our thoughts turn to the ways in which we can start the new year off with a healthier and happier mindset. For many, out diet and eating habits form a huge part of our general wellbeing and mental state and it is, therefore, paramount that we try to make ourselves feel good by fuelling our bodies with good food. Veganism has become a dietary practice that is becoming increasing popular since the creation of ‘Veganuary’. Created as a non-profit organisation in 2014, Veganuary aims to encourage individuals to experiment and try out a vegan diet for the whole of January (and beyond!).
During this week’s podcast we are joined by the lovely Sophie Gaston who talks us through her journey with veganism. It is evident that people choose to follow a vegan diet for multiple reasons and Sophie shares with us that, after research, she decided to cut out animal products to help with her MS diagnosis. Through TikTok and the odd Instagram post, Sophie shares her vegan journey filled with lots of gorgeous recipes and meals that would convince even the ‘meat and two veg’ type eaters to jump on the vegan bandwagon, even if it’s just for the occasional meat-free meal here and there!
We delve into discussions surrounding how, whilst jumping in cold turkey, or perhaps cold tofu is more of an appropriate phrase, may be manageable for some, many individuals prefer to take the approach of ‘Veganuary’ with the aim of continuing their diet towards full-time vegan. Sophie notes how there are different strands of veganism and emphasises that as veganism becomes more popular, more restaurants are becoming more vegan friendly.
As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. However, with Veganuary, Sophie highlights how there really is no downside. Whether the outcome post-Veganuary results in you turning back to a meat-free diet, Veganuary helps to raise awareness of the health benefits of eating a varied and balanced vegan diet and emphasises how you are able to hit each of those dietary requirements without taking any major supplements or purchasing extravagantly expensive substitutes.
Sophie notes a few of her top tips for sticking with a vegan diet and it’s not surprising to hear that she advocates preparing food fresh as it helps lower costs and makes it easier to ensure only vegan produce is used. Sophie explains that often when browsing the ingredients list on the back of packaging, she finds weird and wacky ingredients that make her question whether or not she wants to consume a product where half the list doesn’t appear to contain common ingredients – it certainly makes you question what exactly you’re putting in your body when you read certain packages! A wonderful addition to this conversation was learning about the ‘accidental vegan foods’ such as oreos, jelly tots and meat-flavoured crisps (I think it’s best just not to ask!!) which certainly help make the transition towards a vegan diet far easier. In addition to this, Sophie suggests that keeping a couple of convenient Vegan freezer foods and tins of chickpeas and passata stocked up helps to ensure that you can stick to Veganuary.
Sophie’s top tips for veganism:
- Take it easy – if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!
- Go easy on yourself – don’t give up if you slip up!
- Have fun, experiment and try new recipes!
- Plan meals ahead as this will help you to work out what you’re eating when and will help you keep on track!
- If you’re struggling, check out documentaries and vegan blogs for further education about veganism and it may help you to refocus your reasons for becoming vegan!
If becoming a full-time vegan isn’t for you, then perhaps try out pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian recipes once in a while to test the water and see what ingredients and meals you can
Make sure you follow the lovely Sophie on TikTok to check out more of her tips and tricks about becoming a vegan (@soapybubz).