Veganuary - the Try Vegan in January campaign - has appointed a raft of well-known Ambassadors from the worlds of theatre, television, comedy, cookery and sport to help make Veganuary 2018 the biggest year yet. Sixty thousand people registered their month-long participation in January 2017’s plant-based initiative, but the charity expects that figure to exceed 150,000 this January. The newly-appointed Ambassadors who will encourage people to try vegan for a month are:

Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe. Comedian

Evanna Lynch, Actor (Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films)

Jasmine Harman,Television presenter (A Place in the Sun)

Peter Egan, Actor (Downton Abbey, National Theatre)

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Jack Monroe, Food writer and activist

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Carl Donnelly, Comedian and writer

Anthony Mullally, Leeds Rhinos rugby player

Dan Geisler, Team GB triathlete

Terri Walsh, Three times World Pole Sport doubles champion

Michael Donohoe, World Pole Championship finalist

John Machin, Sexagenarian strength athlete

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Tim Shieff, Professional freerunner

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Some of the Ambassadors - alongside other well-known names - have donated recipes to a celebrity e-cookbook that is sent free of charge to everyone who registers to take part in Veganuary. The recipes include: John Bishop’s chickpea burgers; Joanna Lumley’s Random Green Soup; Jasmine Harman’s shepherd’s pie with a Mediterranean twist; cricketer Jason Gillespie’s spinach and potato curry; and civil rights campaigner Peter Tatchell’s favourite chocolate cake.

Veganism is undoubtedly on the rise as people increasingly seek to reduce their impact on animals and the planet, and to boost their own health. According to an Ipsos Mori poll, there are now more than half a million vegans in the UK and this is no fad. Six months after their month-long pledge was over, 67 per cent of Veganuary’s 2017 survey respondents said they had remained vegan.

‘It was the best decision I ever made’, says comedian Carl Donnelly who has been vegan for five years. ‘Within a week, I felt like a different person. I used to have stomach problems, a lot of ulcers - they cleared up. My mental health was definitely helped.’

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Team GB Triathlete, Dan Geisler describes his change to a plant-based diet as ‘a very, very good decision’. He says: ‘I’ve never been faster, never been able to recover quicker, never looked better, I’ve never raced better.’ Eight months after going vegan, Dan picked up a silver medal at the World Triathlon Championships. ‘I went vegan for a challenge,’ he says, ‘and now I’ve stayed vegan because it’s offered benefits to my life.’

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For Leeds Rhinos prop forward Anthony Mullally, being vegan has helped him maintain muscle and lose fat, and he says he is having the most consistent season of his career so far. While he says he has lost no strength, and is still hitting bench press PBs, one big surprise for him was how it helped him reconnect with the natural world. ‘I just felt more compassionate in general,’ he says. ‘I started to go out a lot more in nature.’

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For television presenter Jasmine Harman (Veganuary Class of 2014), going vegan was an ethical decision, which came to the fore when she was having trouble breastfeeding her daughter. ‘I just thought how can it be so difficult? Why do cows find it so easy to make milk for no reason?’ she says.And I had this sudden dawning that cows don’t make milk for no reason. We’re all mammals and cows make milk because they’ve had a baby. And then I started thinking what happens to the baby? I started looking into it and what I discovered completely horrified me. I didn’t stop crying for about three days and I’ve never touched dairy products ever again.’

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Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch says of her decision: ‘It was just the right path for me. I felt like as soon as I went vegan, I was more myself, like I was just living according to what I believed, which is such a freeing thing when you finally commit to it. I never found a religion or a faith that was exactly in line with what I believed because there are so many things I’m not sure about, but I strongly believe in non-violence, that we shouldn’t be hurting other people or creatures.’

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Comedian Sara Pascoe who has been vegan eight years says: ‘I felt straight away on a plant-based diet my digestion immediately improved, and that thing where you feel a little bit glowy, where people say you look well, and you say well actually, I’m a vegan.’

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Says Jane Land, co-founder of Veganuary: ‘We are delighted to welcome these wonderful, compassionate and talented Ambassadors to Veganuary. Each one has an incredible story to tell about how they came to veganism, and how choosing to eat plant-based foods has changed and benefited their lives. For some it was an ethical decision, for others it was about health. It doesn’t matter what brings people to try veganism - all reasons are equally valid - and Veganuary is here to mentor, support and advise anyone who wishes to try vegan for 31 days. Why not sign up now?’


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