Veganuary

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From 5:2 to Master Cleanse, post-New Year diets are all the rage. One which has dramatically grown in popularity this year is “Veganuary”. An unfamiliar term to most of us, Veganuary refers to a strict plant-based vegan diet for the month of January, often to “spiritually and physically cleanse” the body. With a demanding diet that rules out all meat, dairy and eggs, it leaves the question of why has it suddenly become so popular?

It may partly be down to the ultimate Superstar couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The loved-up duo embarked on the “22 Day Vegan Challenge” just one day before the renegade rapper’s 44th birthday on December 3rd 2013. After receiving large amounts of publicity and praise for the restricting diet, both Beyoncé and her husband glowed in photographs, while sporting very trim figures. Some are even claiming that Beyoncé was a tiny US size 2 (UK 6) at the Grammys.

What came next appeared to be a surge in temporary vegans for the month January 2014, with the BBC stating an astonishing 40% increase on the year before. With many vegans concerned that the vegan lifestyle will be reduced to nothing more than a fad, I share their worry, but also see this as a remarkable achievement of modern society.

This is because, being a vegan myself, I have had some unpleasant encounters with people who have tried to challenge my beliefs and way of life. I understand that a couple of generations ago the common dish was characterised as any “meat and two veg”, which may explain why people still find veganism strange. But since the vegan diet has been catapulted into the limelight, I have met other vegans, something which I thought would be a very rare occurrence. It may be a coincidence but I think the positive mediation of this ideology is finally becoming accepted, all thanks to a growing liberal Western world, celebrity endorsement, and being seen as a quick-fix health treatment.

Despite this, being a vegan is not always a walk in the park. Sometimes it is a very lonely adventure, not because of the experience of open discrimination or anything along those lines, but because it is awfully easy to be left out and feel like an outcast. This can best be illustrated when my friends and I went to an exciting 1950s-style American diner. The atmosphere was nothing less than electric. However, the only thing which was suitable for vegans was Orange juice or Coke! As I watched my friends chow down their amazing looking pancakes, my stomach growled with hunger. Sadly, vegans are often forgotten by a large section of society; it’s just a fact that we will have to live with – for now at least.

Lastly, many people tend to believe that it is my choice to not eat food like fluffy pancakes, which it is, and I am proud of it. However, what most people never realise is that it is very easy to make a substitute for most things. Over the last 5 years I have discovered how to make vegan pancakes, cakes (which are better than the norm) and, more surprisingly, even an extraordinary roast dinner. Even though I am sure that many people take part in Veganuary for health benefits and to eat natural low fat and low calorie foods, I would highly advise them, and others, to at least try a vegan cake. You won’t be sorry.

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