What is Veganuary?
You may have heard the term ‘Veganuary’ being used or referred to in recent months by broadcasters, news outlets, blogs and social influencers as the charity ramps up again for the biggest campaign of the calendar year, but what exactly is it?
Veganuary is a pledge taken by hundreds of thousands of people each January to give Vegan a go for one month. The UK-based charity behind it all, works hard year round to cultivate relationships with plant-based gurus, industry go-to's and vegan brands to create materials, starter packs and resources available for free to everyone who takes part in Veganuary.
Founded in 2014, the campaign has garnered huge success growing by 183% during 2018, with 168,542 taking the pledge. Entering its 5th year, with estimates of around 300,000 people taking part, there’s no sign of it slowing down.
Why does it work?
During the month of December, many people take the time to reflect on the year that has passed and start to plan and prepare for the year ahead. It’s a time for new beginnings and resolutions but without the proper resources, support and encouragement, many people fall short on their promises and revert to their old habits.
By committing to giving something a go for just one-month, rather than a whole lifestyle change, is far less daunting and much more manageable. Add to that, a community of people all trying something for the first time together, there to ask and answer each others questions and give one another the motivation needed at times, to complete the month.
It’s also a great measure of time to see a difference in how you and your body feels from a change in diet. Of course, there are lots of vegan junk-food alternatives out there, there’s no denying that, but by replacing your usual diet with wholesome, nutritious, plant-based foods, you’re likely to benefit from increased energy levels, clearer skin, good sleep and a happy gut.
Mitch’s Veganuary story
It may or may not surprise you to know that Mitch Lee, Co-Founder of Mitch’s Kitchen, hasn’t always followed a vegan diet and lifestyle. In fact, his previous eating habits were quite the opposite, with a diet of mainly meat and dairy in each meal of the day. He became obsessed with counting calories and making sure he had huge amounts of protein throughout the day, at many times gravely under eating and verging on becoming 'orthorexic' (developing an unhealthy obsession, with eating healthy).
In 2015 he began working as a chef at a vegetarian restaurant called Offbeet. They had decided as a company to go vegan in January 2016 and encouraged by Shirin, Mitch decided to take the pledge and sign up to Veganuary.
Immersed in the kitchen and with the freedom to experiment, Mitch quickly discovered amazing new cooking techniques and an even greater passion for food. Meals were no longer just meat, carbs and a veg source - it was all about the flavour, texture, colours, sprinkles and seasoning to finish.
Learning new skills and experimenting in the kitchen with an amazing team helped Mitch hone his cooking skills even further and with a 'thinking outside the box' attitude and passion for making exciting meals, plant-based cooking became easy!
Recognising the gap in learning vegan kitchen skills, Mitch began designing and running cooking lessons in early 2017, where he shared his knowledge with eager home cooks looking to incorporate more plant-based alternatives on their menu, share ideas and make new friends.
Fuelled by their passion for spreading the joy of nutritiously good food, Mitch and Shirin thought “If only we had a kitchen table big enough. How can we share this with more people?” - and so ‘Mitch’s Kitchen’ was born.
Veganuary has had such a huge positive impact on Mitch's life, encouraging him to follow a lifestyle and career with a goal to show others just how easy and delicious eating plant-based can be.
Resources we recommend:
With plant-based alternatives on the rise, the market has exploded with more and more options available making the choice easier. Dedicated vegan news outlets like 'Plant Based News' are great ways of keeping up to date with whats going on in the industry too.
Whether you’re eating out, staying in or leading a fast-paced, plant-based lifestyle, there are options available to suit your needs. Here’s some of our favourites:
Cooking at home:
You can't help notice recipe videos and amazing photo's of food crop up when scrolling Instagram or Facebook. There are so many amazing cookbooks on the market right now too, below are a few recommendations to get you going.
BOSH - for quick videos and easy to follow recipes that you can recreate yourselves. Their cookbook was one of the biggest selling cookbooks last year!
“But I could never go Vegan” - The zero excuse recipe book. Think you'll miss cheese, pizza, cake - she's got a recipe for that!
Thug Kitchen - 'Cook like you give a f**k' - This brash, colourful and hugely entertaining book has so many delicious recipes, once again proving that vegans don't just eat grass...
High-street chains such as Zizzi, Ask, Wagamama have an extensive vegan menu. Don’t be afraid to ask, more and more restaurants now have a dedicated vegan section on their menu and will be happy to help you adapt options to suit.
Happy Cow - a great website that helps you to find vegan eateries across the world, simply search by location.
Trip Advisor - If you're new to an area, travelling abroad or want to check out what others think about a certain place - just keyword search 'vegan' and its easy to see which places have options.
On the go:
Plan ahead to minimise plastic waste. Carry a reusable bag and coffee cup with you. If you're working, perhaps bring in some tasty Mitch’s Kitchen leftovers to stop buying products wrapped in single use plastics.
High-street supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco all have dedicate free-from and vegan sections with options to grab and go such as the Wicked Kitchen range by the amazing Derek Sarno. Even M&S have announced plans to introduce 60 vegan friendly meals, snacks and ingredients so going vegan now literally couldn't be easier!
What’s right for you?
Veganuary is a great introduction to plant-based eating and a fantastic resource for sharing information and updates related to health, animal welfare, environment and nutrition. It’s often the springboard to a vegan lifestyle or the catalyst for change from old habits to new ones. But as with anything, it’s different for each individual.
It could inspire you to try new recipes, make new friends, discover new companies doing great things in the community - like us!
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to give something a go, for fear of failing. It’s about making the right choice for you and that choice may change from day-to-day.
So perhaps you’ve thought about making healthier choices, reducing your meat intake or giving veganism a go but don’t know where to start. The Veganuary website is a great place (and not just for the month of January), there are plenty of resources available year-round to aid you on your journey.
To find out more head over to www.veganuary.com.
And remember, the Mitch’s Kitchen community is a place of support and discovery. Share your story with us by using #MitchsKitchen - we love seeing how awesome you are!
Oh and if you don't know what to cook, why not make life easier with a few of our meals...