In January 2015 I came across the concept of Veganuary and wondered, “What if?” This month I’m proud to say I’m celebrating my one year veganniversary as a veganuary success story, with no intention of ever going back.
A Veganuary success story
What better way to celebrate my veganniversary than to announce that not only has Veganuary had a massive effect on me but also on my family. Whilst I can’t take full credit I’d like to think that a year of sampling delicious vegan food and witnessing the ease with which I’ve embraced my new lifestyle has gone some way to showing them that not only can this be done, it needs to be done.
Over the past 12 months I’ve quietly encouraged them to be open, not only about food but also to facing the heartbreaking realities of the meat, dairy and egg industry. As a result both my husband, David and stepson Sam are regularly eating a vegan/vegetarian diet and embarking on their individual journeys into how our cravings, habits and choices affect the world around us.
Lets be realistic. None of this has come easy, though people are shocked that the first thing that I tell them is it has been far easier than I ever hoped to believe. Until last year I’d lived my whole life in ignorant bliss eating and honestly enjoying a typical animal dependent Western diet.
I’ve spent 20 years lovingly and creatively cooking with meat, dairy and eggs on a daily basis. I’ve used these foods as emotional crutches, treats and guilty pleasures. I’ve lavished them upon those I love as an expression of my innermost feelings. I’ve craved the taste of my mams cooking, deep within my soul long, long after hers had departed and judged every occasion by the quality and quantity of its fare.
These things do not diminish easily, but neither does the enlightenment that comes with daring to work towards change. This past year I’ve been through crippling doubts, cravings, challenges and slip ups. I’ve taught myself how to shop and cook differently. I’ve experienced that some vegans are much nicer to animals than they are to people. I’ve adapted and evolved. I’ve vowed never to close my eyes and go back.
One thing I have found surprising is that as Veganuary has grown and gained popularity there are some that don’t necessarily agree with its principles. That advocating one month of change is just not enough. That it’s somehow diminishing the vegan cause as it substitutes the message of global, fundamental change with one that’s a bit more watered down. That presenting veganism as a choice is enabling people to take a half arsed approach.
To those people I applaud their commitment but also urge them to look at the statistics. In less than 2 years, with a team of just 3 people Veganuary has gone from guiding a few thousand participants to over 50,000 in 2016. Last year approximately 50% of people pledged to stay vegan beyond January. I am one of them. I know of no other vegan movement that can claim such numbers in such a short length of time. There is much we can learn from these figures moving forward.
If I had to highlight one thing in response to the perceived success/failure of Veganuary it would be to say I don’t feel a month is long enough to get truly comfortable in your vegan skin. It’s a well-known fact that it takes at least 21 days to break a habit but much longer than that for it to become routine. I think it’s an important distinction for anyone that may be on the fence about continuing or feels they are still struggling to get a handle on things. A one month commitment is a great start, but you’ve essentially got the rest of your life to figure it out.
Veganism is not the pursuit of perfection. It’s the willingness to stand up for what you believe and demonstrate that by taking perfectly committed, imperfect action in an imperfect world. Its living up to your responsibility of encouraging everyone around you to do the same whether they’re ready to jump in with both feet as I was, or just daring to get started.
Veganuary has all the resources you need to begin. Make the commitment, do your research, put your money where your mouth is and your compassion and humanity will do the rest. Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments below. I look forward to celebrating your veganniversary in 2017.