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 Northampton resident, Lauren Payne. 

Lauren Payne

Lauren Payne

‘I had been pescaterian for a while, having cut out meat for health reasons and I became interested in trying veganism when a friend went vegan. The suffering of animals and the environmental issues were playing on my mind more and more, and so when I heard about Veganuary, I thought this was a great opportunity to try it alongside lots of other people.’ 

And it was a month that would change Lauren’s life for the better. ‘Going vegan was one of the best decisions I have ever made’ she says. ‘I exercise regularly, and have seen a real difference in terms of energy levels during and after exercise, but also in my ability to show muscle definition and tone my body. Health-wise I have also noticed a real difference in my skin, and my hair grows so much faster nowadays too!’ 

Lauren has found that a healthy diet does not need to be a boring one! ‘I am a passionate foodie, and being vegan has reinvigorated my passion for cooking - discovering vegan recipes or tweaking some of my old favourites to be vegan friendly. The best part is cooking a delicious meal for friends and family and then telling them it's vegan and seeing how shocked and surprised they are at how amazingly delicious it is...if I say so myself!’

She also loves eating out and has named her favourite local restaurants to help anyone thinking about taking part in Veganuary 2018 or who would just like to know where to get a great plant-based meal.

Foodie Rocks

‘Describing themselves as 'Streetfood. Music. Art & Merrymaking', Foodie Rocks is relatively new on the Northampton food scene, serving tapas style street food including some incredible vegan options (as well as cocktails). I always go for the vegan option Frankie Roll (a traditional indian chapati with spicy chickpea and potato curry), vegan option Dahi Puri (semolina puffs with potato, onion and homemade chutney) and the Venezuelan Arepa (cornflour bread fillet with black bean salsa, fresh avocado and plantain chips). It's completely different to any other foodie experience in Northampton and great for casual dining with friends.’

Zapato Lounge

This is my favourite vegan brunch and lunch spot - go for the vegan breakfast or burrito wrap - and it also does an incredibly indulgent dark chocolate and ginger torte that goes perfectly with a soya latte. They have a dedicated vegan menu so it takes the hassle out of trawling through the menu if you're going for a post night-out hangover cure brekkie!’ 

Karmana

Karmana is, as far as I know, Northampton's only dedicated vegan restaurant! All dishes on their menu are plant based, with some that can be adapted to be vegetarian. On Sundays, Karmana holds an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet lunch, a firm recommendation of mine. It's an unassuming, welcoming and friendly restaurant with delicious food to suit. A hidden gem in Northampton for vegans.’ 

All Bar One

‘The nearest All Bar One is in Milton Keynes, however their dedicated Veganuary menu was incredible and it definitely prompted a lot of food envy amongst my non-vegan friends. They've kept some of these vegan dishes on the main menu (the flatbread is delicious) and it is a great working lunch spot.’  

Zizzi

‘Again, the closest Zizzi is in Milton Keynes, but their vegan pizza is INCREDIBLE. Their vegan cheese is the same stringy, gooey consistency that we all love about the usual pizza topping and you can mix and match your other chosen veggies to adorn your pizza.’

ASK Italian

‘I love ASK's pasta dishes, the aubergine tagliatelle is my favourite. I also like that they highlight the vegan drinks options, as navigating a wine list can be tricky at the best of times.’

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.

Lauren enjoyed the month so much, she has decided to stay vegan and her message to people thinking about taking part in Veganuary 2018 is to do it. ‘Veganuary is a great opportunity to try something new and know that so many people are on the same journey as you. This year in particular, there was so much discussion and so many amazing foodie photos on social media to give you plenty of encouragement , information and inspiration, which was a great support. Plus, so many restaurants are providing vegan options or dedicated vegan menus, it makes eating out stress free! 


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