Could you adopt a vegan diet for one week?
Some may find that idea daft, some daunting, some daring, and some delectable. We set ourselves the challenge to give a vegan diet a try…
January is a time for fresh starts, and as 2019 rolled in the usual assortment of promises for New Year resolutions hit. Although set with great optimism, most of the resolutions set at bio-bean typically fall by the wayside quite quickly. However, with associated environmental, health, and animal welfare benefits, Veganuary piqued the interest of a fair few of us on the bio-bean team.
Veganuary is an organisation that began in 2014 to raise awareness and support for a vegan diet and lifestyle. It has since grown into a massive international movement. Over 225,000 people signed up in the first week of January alone!
Animal welfare aside, it turns out that a plant-based diet is not only good for your health, but it is “the single biggest way” to reduce our environmental impact on the earth, according to researchers at University of Oxford. Apparently “cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent!” And Veganuary explains that by trying vegan you’ll save water, protect nature, reduce pollution and save wildlife.
So, we thought we’d give it a go. But rather than attempt the traditional and more challenging route of trying vegan for the entire month, our challenge was for one week only.
Enter the bio-bean Veganuary Challenge (entirely voluntary, of course) …
For the penultimate week of January, we chose to spend seven days and nights of eating only a plant-based menu.
“What on earth can I eat?!”, was the number one question going around the office before the challenge began. Cue our Marketing Manager, Jess, who shared a copy of the Veganuary Celebrity Cookbook to help with meal ideas. With tasty, easy recipes from the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Beyonce, John Bishop, Joanna Lumley and even Pamela Anderson, we were all set for a well-fed week. Not to mention Google is full to the brim with delicious recipes in line with the vegan diet.
WhatsApp provided the perfect forum for us to share tips, tricks and recipes with one another. And we could send encouraging and supportive messages if anyone lost motivation.
It’s fair to say we each had varying success with the challenge. Fitting the diet in with family life was a stumbling block for some. Others had trouble simply remembering to choose the animal free products!
Read below for further details on how we got on …
“Veganuary was nowhere near as difficult as I feared it would be! I’m pretty lucky being based in our London office where there’s a plethora of food stalls, shops and cafes. There’s an array of delicious vegan food on offer. At home I ate a lot of soups and discovered just how nice homemade nut butters are as a substitute for real butter. I tried vegan wine and beer and really enjoyed those too.
I can’t say Veganuary was completely plain sailing, though. One day I brought what I thought was tomato and chickpea soup for lunch, but it turned out to be tomato and chicken soup. I had completely misread it!
The most memorable moment for me though (and sadly for many of my colleagues) is after indulging in a whole loaf of caramelised garlic bread chock-full of garlic cloves. I oozed eau de garlic for several days afterwards. Once again, apologies to my colleagues!
I enjoyed our vegan challenge and am going to try to stay with it. Or at least vegetarianism for the foreseeable.” – Pete, Chief Financial Officer
“Although I approached the idea with apprehension, I managed to keep to the challenge. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it! Vegan eating meant that I planned my meals more meticulously than before. This was fine when I had the time, but trickier when time was limited. I was surprised to learn how many products contain animal products (some beer and wine!) but quickly found alternatives. I feel a lot more aware of what I’m eating. While I won’t be making the transition to a full vegan diet, I am planning to phase out meat.” – Katherine, Business Development and Account Executive
“As a vegetarian who has also cut out dairy milk, it shouldn’t have been difficult for me to cut out eggs and cheese for one week. I thought this was going to be a cinch, but for me it was actually quite challenging. I was on the road for most of the week and reliant on food-to-go outlets. It was tough to make the sacrifices necessary. It gave me a renewed sympathy for vegans, though. They have fewer options when out and about.
I failed to make it through the full 7 days; I was only able to achieve 5. Honestly, I don’t see myself fully giving up cheese or eggs. I will, however, choose certified organic and free range where possible.” – Jessica, Marketing Manager
“I loved Vegan week as it made me try lots of delicious new recipes without any meat or dairy. I also discovered new Vegan products like Ombar and Booja Booja chocolate that taste better than the non-vegan options! It made me realise that it is possible to have a really interesting and varied diet without meat or dairy. I would find it very hard to be a strict vegan all the time given how many foods have traces of animal products. But I think I’ll eat much less meat and dairy from now on.” – Barbara, Chief Legal and Corporate Services Officer
So a total vegan lifestyle may not be the lasting result for those who tried. But approaching the challenge in a fun, supportive way proved enough for some of us to make considerable changes to our diets. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll tackle Veganuary for the whole month!