Veganuary Lessons Learned (with Jack Monroe and Nick Knowles)

Hello. I’m back. I came offline for a few days as I needed to mentally regroup and shut myself off from the skincare and psoriasis world for a few days. I think it’s done me the world of good, because I am feeling much more positive than my last post. We are all allowed to feel like that from time to time, of course, but I was feeling particularly low, so switched off from the online world completely.

Today heralds the start of a new month. Last month I completed Veganuary – eating vegan for a month.

Here’s what I learned:

  • It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
  • People have funny reactions when you tell them you’re trying vegan
  • Endless falafel and hummus wraps is not the one…..and so….
  • …planning is key!
  • I think I prefer drinking coffee without any milk now
  • Vegan cheese is actually ok
  • Vegans are nice people – not judgey when you say you crave cheese. (At least the ones I met were nice!)

Will I continue this diet lifestyle?

Become a proper hardcore vegan?

Honestly, probably not. At least, not now. My boyfriend is the world’s biggest meat eater and I have no close vegan friends, so socialising and eating out will pose a problem. I think unless your partner is also vegan, or at least veggie, or at least willing to incorporate a lot of veggie meals in their diet, veganism would be hard.

But a 100% vegan diet, isn’t my only concern. It’s the whole vegan lifestyle I think I would struggle with. Most of my shoes and bags are leather. I have a leather sofa. I have a leather jacket. Most of my makeup and skincare is definitely not cruelty-free… and surely that’s worse than eating meat; wearing eye shadow that a rabbit has road-tested for you? I don’t know. I would feel hypercritical rocking up for dinner and choosing tofu and beans whilst wearing Mac lipstick.

Despite this, when a vegan pal pointed me in the direction of a cool vegan calculator, I was pleasantly surprised to see the difference I had made during just one month of eating like a vegan:

Cool, right?

So if opting for a fully vegan lifestyle is out of the question for me (at least for now), what other alternatives are there?

Part-Time Vegan?

I could do what Jack Monroe (and several others) do and lead a mostly vegan life.

Jack eats vegan, but still wears her ‘sexy-as-hell biker jacket and has refused to throw out some tight leather trousers. She (does she identify as a ‘she’ now? Apologies if you’re reading this and I have offended you, Jack!) accept that once upon a time, she created, shared and promoted meat recipes, but you know what? She’s ok about that. That was her then. Quite different from what she is now. She says she is merely a product of her experiences. As we all are. How very zen.

I quite like this approach. Veganism, or at least this version of it, doesn’t have to mean all or nothing.

Actually, scrapping the ‘all or nothing’ approach was reflected in one of the last Veganuary emails I received from the charity,

“Being vegan is not about being perfect. Which is a good thing, as that’s simply not possible in this imperfect world of ours. Being vegan is about living in in a way that causes the least harm. It is about intention, not perfection. If you’ve slipped up a couple of times, or accidentally eaten something before realising it had milk in it (we’ve all been there right?!), don’t beat yourself up. You’ve still been vegan.”

So, living your life with vegan intention is ok. I don’t have to throw out all my make up quite yet. And hey, if Nick Knowles is a part-time vegan (or flexitarian, as he calls himself), then it must be ok, right?

This article, which talks about ‘selective veganism’ (seriously, how many names do we need for this dietary choice?) is also pretty interesting. It talks about how selective veganism is more sociable, less awkward (if you’re not a ‘shouty person’) and, most importantly – still makes a difference.

So the way I read it, it’s ok to be vegan, say Monday – Friday, and still enjoy the occasional colleague’s birthday cake or scotch egg on a hangover day. (What? try it!)

Interestingly, there was a little poll at the end of the article:

So it seems most people agree, selective veganism is the best of both worlds.

And, every little really does help.

Look at what happened when I started messing around with the vegan calculator and entered the details for someone going vegan for just two days (roughly) a month:

 

Amazing how much could be saved from just one little person, right? Now imagine if everyone in the UK (all 64 million of us) committed to just two days vegan a month.

Veganism and Psoriaiasis

You don’t need me to bang on about the benefits of eating a mostly meat-free diet, but what consequences does this have on someone with psoriasis? Sure, we are flooding our bodies with veggie vitamins and minerals, but are we missing out on any key dietary needs?

Typing in ‘vegan and psoriasis’ into Google yields 542,000 results. There are hundreds of threads, discussions and questions posed about psoriasis and veganism, high fruit diets, juicing and raw veganism.

Us psoriasis types are certainly desperate to cure our condition (I’m sorry, I can’t abide calling it a skin disease) through diet. There are many stories of those who have healed through vegan diets, but then there are the stories of those who haven’t seen an improvement in their skin condition through diet at all. I guess, as with many things, what works for some people won’t work for all.

In veggie and vegan commutes, there is consistent talk of vitamin B12.

B12 is a vitamin that helps our brains and nerve tissue function properly. It also helps us to form red blood cells. A lack of B12 can have a negative effect on our immune system. It can also making us feel tired. But B12 can be tricky to get from non-animal products.

The Vegan Society talk of taking B12 as a supplement if you’re not eating fortified food, but there is conflicting information on how much we should be consuming. It’s best to do your own research and make your own decisions on this one.

My Skin

Personally, after a month of eating vegan, I saw no improvement in my own skin. Actually, these past two weeks have seen my skin totally flare up – but I think this has been down to the weather (freezing here in the UK!) rather than my diet. I was never a big meat eater in the first place, so who knows what effect this has had on my psoriasis overall. I don’t think one month is long enough to see a real change anyway.

Next Steps

So that’s it from me. Flexitarian, part-time and selective vegan. Going forward, I will be eating less chicken, the only meat I ate (eat?) anyway, and making more cruelty free choices when it comes to clothes and make up. I know Superdrug offer a totally cruelty-free makeup and skincare range, so there isn’t really any excuse in that department.

To echo the words of that Metro article, I do think every little helps. So I’m not going to beat myself up for keeping my leather bags and indulging in that scotch egg every once in a while.

#selectivevegansoftheworldunite!

So,tell me about your diet! Vegan? Veggie? Flexi? Any tips or advice for someone like me, dipping their toe in the world of veganism?