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Veganuary and why it is a positive Exeter trend

Olivia Horncastle gives her account of veganism and why veganuary may be a bit of a fad but it is actually a positive thing.


Last January, I had never heard of Veganuary. If you had asked me about it, I would have told you that all I knew was that it was something to do with vegans and January – probably whilst I was shoving some chicken into my mouth. Fast forward one year and I am now a vegan for life; quite a change! Last March, I discovered this weird concept called ‘veganism’ and for the first time ever, I actually looked at and thought about where my food came from. The girl who adored four cheese pizzas and chicken breasts was now a converted tofu lover!

Last March, I discovered this weird concept called ‘veganism’

This year, I am looking at Veganuary with a very different perspective. Last year, I would have assumed that everyone trying it would probably die of protein deficiency after a month with no animal products. This year, I think that many people will feel amazing after January, and will hopefully continue eating vegan the rest of their lives! At Exeter, we are all very sporty and health conscious, and so part of me does wonder if the Veganuary phenomenon here is just people trying to be hip (and consume as many avocados as possible). But part of me doesn’t really care why people are doing Veganuary. If it’s for “selfish” health or weight-loss reasons, that’s fine! If it’s for the environment, that’s fine! If it’s because you’re bored and want a challenge, that’s fine too! I don’t really care why people decide to spend a cold winter month with no animal products; all I care is that people are doing it.

Having once been the person to make fun of vegans, I actually went vegan myself after watching several documentaries one night which uncovered my eyes to the health benefits of being vegan. So I went vegan for purely selfish reasons, when I realised that I would not die of protein deficiency, and would actually be healthier if I went plant based. It was only after I had given up all animal products that I really researched the ethics and animal welfare side of it.

And yes Vegans can eat pizza!

I now stay vegan for ethical reasons and for the animals. My whole family, seeing how I have thrived after the transition, have now all gone vegan themselves! Who would have thought that a 60-year-old Yorkshire man, a junk food-lover and a chocoholic would go vegan? But we love it, and will never look back. What I am trying to say is that vegans are no longer the weird hippy stereotypes society sees them as! Trust me, I used to think that they were as well! The current strongest man in the world is a vegan, Serena Williams is a vegan, Miley Cyrus is a vegan. Really ANYONE can make the change. I never thought I would be a vegetarian, never mind a vegan! Most vegans probably once thought that they would never do it until they realised why they should!

Veganuary might be popular in Exeter due to us all wanting to look good in our stash, and eat lunch at Pret every day, but I think the best way for getting people to discover how amazing this lifestyle is is to actually try it. If I can go nine months without dairy cheese (look for non-dairy alternatives!) then I promise that you can survive one! Veganuary is a wonderful challenge, and even if people decide not to stay vegan, I hope that it will make those participating consume fewer animal products, whether that’s for their own health or for the animals!

If I haven’t bored you to death with my little vegan rant (maybe some vegan stereotypes are true) then please have an open mind, and take a look at some of the following documentaries to learn more about veganism, and why it isn’t as crazy or extreme as people first think it is!

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