And so we come to the end of what’s felt like the longest January ever.
It’s been bleak, for many of us dry, and largely frugal.
So far, so standard.
But for thousands, January has also been the first time they’ve tried living a vegan lifestyle – and for a decent number, tomorrow will mark the end of the beginning of their plant-based future.
Veganuary’s been going for since 2014 but this year, it’s been inescapable.
We’ve all got mates who, if you asked them last year if they’d be taking part would have laughed you to scorn, this time round have been chugging Oatly and seitan fillets like no tomorrow. High street chains which barely had any vegetarian options now have entire vegan menus.
2018 is the year that veganism goes mainstream – it’s only going to grow from here.
Record numbers signed up to Veganuary
By the end of December, over 150,000 people had taken the pledge to do Veganuary – 31 days of animal-product-free existence.
In 2014, 3,300 people took part and the cause has grown year on year. And the figure this year is just those who signed up via the website ahead of January – the real figure is probably higher.
And they’re incredible. The Wicked Kitchen might sound a little spenny at £3-4, but worth it for the convenience and range alone.
The supermarket partnered with chef Derek Sarno to create the range, to ‘bring the plant-based market from niche to mainstream’. The range features vegan sandwiches, wraps, salads, ready meals and pizza, and from what we’ve tasted, it’s an absolute game changer.
Option include Carrot pastrami-spiced wraps, Veggie pasta amazeballs, Nana’s mushroom bolognese and BBQ butternut mac.
Vegan cookbooks are still in Amazon’s top 20 best sellers list
Veganuary wrote a book called How to go Vegan last month and immediately became a top seller. Apparently, the first person asked to read it was the proofreader…who became a vegan.
At the moment, Dr Michael Greger’s book How Not To Die Cookbook – a volume of plant-based recipes is number 18 in the top 20, and number one in the sugar-free category, with a near five-star rating. A vegan himself, Dr Michael’s book offers medically-backed solutions to common diet-led illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and other problems.
‘Not only does Dr Michael Greger drop a metric f*ckton of evidence that a plant-based diet will save your damn life, he lays out the blueprint to make it happen,’ Thug Kitchen has said.
Loads of chains started offering vegan grub on the high street
Back in the day, I remember trying to pick up lunch as a vegan teen and resigning myself to bringing my own corncakes and salad. Grim times.
Today, however, these plant-based teenagers don’t even know they’re born. This year, it’s like every main chain has realised that actually, not everyone wants a gut-full of flesh or dairy and that, *kerching*, where there’s a market, there’s money to be made.
Pizza Express, Zizzi, Carluccio’s, All Bar One, Le Pain Quotidien, Pizza Hut, Aubain, and many more have introduced vegan menus or items over Veganuary and everyone’s gone wild for them. Instagram is full of Aubain’s mushroom stroganoff and fries, while Toby Carvery and Weatherspoons are the undisputed budget kings of the plant-based world. Vegan roast or sweet potato and chickpea curry, anyone?
Pret have been there for us since day one but if you didn’t work near one, you essentially had two options: buy a bag of carrots and hummous from the nearest supermarket or starve.
This month, however, Boots, Asda, Co-op, Costa, Greggs, M&S, Morrisons, Starbucks and Waitrose have all introduced plant-based sandwiches, salad pots and other packed lunch options.
In fact, entire businesses turned vegan
Ahh, nothing says veganism is here to stay quite like entire businesses becoming fully vegan…permanently. In London, two pubs turned vegan – the Blacksmith and Toffeemaker in Islington, whose food profits have apparently tripled since throwing out the meat grinder, and The Spread Eagle in Homerton – the UK’s first 100% vegan pub. All their food (catered by Mexican vegan kings Club Mexicana), drinks, furniture and fittings are animal-free, meaning you won’t find a scrap of leather in there.
Oh, and a vegan Chinese restaurant set up shop at Pamela’s in Dalton – complete with vegan eggs.
And small vegan ventures started charging entry fees
When you’re a small fringe movement, you do anything you can to attract folk to your meetings. You go all out on social media. You have badges made. You might offer up certain discounts. Once you’ve made it, however, that’s when you start raking in the cash.
Vegan Nights started off as a small collection of independent plant-based businesses coming together to cook for compassionate youth. You paid for your food and spent the night gawping at all the incredible grub, fashion and underground scene around you.
Now, Vegan Nights have started charging a fiver on the door. It’s hardly any wonder when you see the queues of people desperate to get in – it stretches halfway down Brick Lane. But it does sort of imply that maybe it’s not the off-beat, quirky event it once was.
If you’re not made of money, eating out can quickly drain your bank account. You can’t keep going to Voodoo Rays if you want pizza. Which is why frozen food fans everywhere screamed with delight on learning that Goodfella’s was launching the UK’s first frozen vegan pizza.
We’re talking about a vegan stonebaked pizza with falafel, red peppers, spinach, white onion, spicy harissa sauce, and houmus drizzle. It won’t hit supermarket freezers until March but when it does, it’ll only cost £2.50. Bargain.
Andy Murray says he’s going vegan
When I finish playing I'll try it for sure..
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) January 20, 2018
Back in September, Louis Hamilton said he was going vegan – much to the surprise of the racing community. After all, his carbon footprint is hardly going to be small with all that revving.
And now Andy Murray’s said that he’ll give it a go once he finishes playing tennis. Maybe he’s been inspired by the Williams sisters. Next step – an athlete willing to give it a go at the apex of their career.
The dairy-free ice cream market grew substantially
Back in the day, dairy-free ice cream meant fruit sorbet or frozen Ribena. This month, more flavours have been added to the vegan Ben & Jerry’s range, Walls have said they’ll be launching vegan cornettos come the summer and Aldi launched two of their own vegan ice creams.
Basically, Veganism is here to stay.
And whether you’re a fully paid-up member of the plant-based party, or you just want a little more variety in your omnivorous diet, that can only be a good thing.
As the movement grows, hopefully prices will continue to come down – it can’t just be something that wealthy folk who shop at Planet Organic can indulge in.
Anyway, back to your dreams of next month’s bleeding vegan burger fest at Mildred’s.