The campaign to encourage people to try vegan in January is now in its fifth year, and is all set to be bigger than ever with Veganuary predicting more than 150,000 people will go vegan for the month. Last year, there were 60,000 registered participants from 172 countries, and one of them was Wandsworth resident, Albie Jopp.
It was September 2016 when he watched Cowspiracy, a film produced by Leonardo di Caprio, which shows animal agriculture to be one of the largest contributors to climate change. Albie decided to cut down on meat, and eat it just once a week. ‘I found it all so surprisingly easy,’ he says, ‘that when I came home to London and saw an advert for Veganuary on the tube I reckoned I could give it a go.’ He signed up and describes it as the ‘Best. Decision. Ever. I started for environmental reasons but then throughout Veganuary I found out how good it is for your health, and - something I never expected - I feel more of a connection with all living things. Animal welfare was not high on my list of reasons for going vegan, but now I wouldn’t even swat a fly.’
Aside from all these benefits, Albie has found that the food is pretty good too! He has listed his favourite chain restaurants and hopes that others in south London who may be thinking of signing up for Veganuary will check out the vegan options, too.
- Zizzis: ‘They have a whole vegan menu and offer any pizza with three toppings as standard, and it’s cheaper than a ‘normal’ one.’
- Wahaca: ‘The cactus burrito is on point. Anything vegetarian they have on the menu they will change to vegan if you ask them. (I’m also still trying to grow the chilli seeds they give you with your bill).’
- Bar Burrito: ‘Burritos are probably one of the easiest things to make vegan. I always suggest it if I’m out looking for a place for veg-heads and omnivores. It’s often significantly cheaper in some places if you don’t order with meat.’
- Pret: ‘I enjoyed their vegan boxes and wraps all summer long.’
- Subway: ‘Whilst you’ll have to move past the perplexed look the ‘sandwich-artist’ will give you when you ask for a 9-grain wheat bread toasted but with no cheese, they won’t be stingy on the veg and they’ll really load up on everything that’s on offer.’
- Pizza Express: ‘Since discovering the 2-4-1 offers every Wednesday, I’ve been going here waaaaaay too much. Whilst I miss the cheeseless Pienta they used to do, the standard vegan pizza they offer is still worth a fiver.’
- Wetherspoons: ‘I saw in a ‘Spoons in Tooting the other day that they have entire vegan/vegetarian/non-dairy/gluten free menus now. What a time to be alive.’
Says Veganuary CEO Simon Winch: ‘Albie’s top tips for eating out in Wandsworth look amazing, and indicate the extraordinary range of plant-based options that are available on high streets all over the country. Most people take part in Veganuary because they have concerns over the way animals are farmed and slaughtered, but thousands more take part for their health or, like Albie, because they want to reduce their environmental impact. These are all excellent reasons, and everyone is welcome! But no matter what prompts someone to try vegan, good food is really important, and those taking part in Veganuary will soon find out that they do not need to compromise on great flavours, and nor will they struggle to eat out with friends. And, thanks to Albie, we know exactly where we’ll be eating out next time we’re in south London!’
It is free to take part in Veganuary, and everyone who does so receives daily support emails that offer shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans, and answers to common questions. They also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where they can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month.
Albie enjoyed the month so much, he has decided to stay vegan and his message to people thinking about taking part in Veganuary 2018 is: ‘It’s easier than you think, trust me! I didn’t know anything about food really and was worried I’d just stand in the shop staring at the veg for hours wondering what on earth to make. But Veganuary hold your hand all the way through it and with their daily checklist for a healthy plant-based diet you’ll get more and more confident and keen to get all the good stuff in your meals.’