Did you know the first animal-free cookery book, Kitchen Philosophy for Vegetarians, was published in England in 1849 by William Horsell of London and the first cookery book to use the new word ‘vegan’ in its title was Fay K. Henderson’s Vegan Recipes pub?
For many people the start of the new year means setting resolutions and goals for the next 12 months, whether that is to read more books, drink more water or take up a new hobby. Since 2014, however, many have been taking on a different challenge, Veganuary.
Veganuary is a month-long challenge during which participants give up animal products for 31 days. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, no meat, no chocolate. Sounds like no fun, right? Wrong. Since it was launched eight years ago Veganuary has only grown in popularity; 400,000 people took the pledge in 2020, this increased to a whopping 582,000 in 2021.
So, what is the difference between vegan and plant-based?
The term plant-based is often included in the same conversations as veganism, but the two aren’t to be conflated. Both terms mean different things to different people, but the consensus is that being plant-based is solely about diet whereas veganism is about ethics.
For a plant-based individual the percentage of plant-based meals you eat can vary, you can be 100% plant based or mostly plant-based. Whereas with veganism you are either in or you’re out, you can’t be 20% vegan. There are also some issues that vegans can have differing opinions on such as pet ownership, zoos/aquaria, eating figs, honey, wearing wool/leather/silk (even if second-hand), medical treatments etc. Confusingly many vegans actually chose to use to refer to themselves as plant-based to separate themselves from controversial or preachy vegan figures.
Is it hard to be vegan?
Veganism, like any new habit, can take a while to get used to and slip-ups can happen. But the important thing is not to put any unnecessary pressure on yourself and put your health at the forefront. If the vegan/plant-based diet doesn’t agree with your body or it starts to encourage dangerous restrictive eating patterns, it is okay to stop.
With that being said, vegan food is so readily available in the UK and in Bristol in particular, that you don’t need to miss out on your favourite meals, snacks or recipes.
Where do you get your protein?
This question is perhaps the most likely to elicit an eye-roll from anyone who does not eat meat, it is up there with “would you eat an animal if you were stranded on a desert island?”.
Nobody has denied that products such as eggs, beef, chicken, offal have high levels of protein, it just seems that people have not been taught that beans and vegetables also have high levels of protein. Some of the largest and strongest animals on earth are herbivores, just look at rhinos, gorillas, and elephants.
So, is veganism worth it?
Some say yes, some say no. It totally depends on the individual.
But if you are interested in taking part in Veganuary this year or in subsequent years, or just want to try new foods, our Source Cafes have a wide range of food offerings to cater to all tastes from salads and sandwiches to smoothies and pizza.