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 2015 participant was Stafford resident, Alison Kirkham.

Alison Stafford

Alison Stafford

‘I had been vegetarian since my early 20s’, she says ‘and my husband and I raised our daughter vegetarian, too. She’s 26 now and has never eaten meat by choice. Our whole family is concerned about animal welfare, livestock conditions, and the effect of our diet on the environment. We have come to understand that dairy is as cruel, unnecessary and damaging as meat, so we started to look towards a vegan diet and in 2015, I signed up for Veganuary.’

And that trial-run has changed their lives. ‘Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have honed our approach to eating and we have found lovely new foods to enjoy and recipes to obsess over! My husband lost a significant amount of weight and feels much lighter on his feet, and all of us are paying much more attention to the balance and ethics of our diet.’

And while Alison and her family have made the transition to veganism for ethical reasons, they have found that vegan food does not mean boring food!

To help anyone else thinking about taking part in Veganuary, she has named her favourite restaurants that serve the best plant-based foods.

  1. Pizza Express, Stafford. ‘I love the fact they have a vegan pizza with dairy-free Mozzarella.’
  2. Verso Lounge, Stafford. ‘They have a completely separate vegan menu, with loads of choices including brunch and tapas, mains and cakes.’

A little further from home, Alison recommends:

  1. The Warehouse Café, Birmingham. ‘This is a great old favourite of ours in Digbeth. Always a really good choice and their vegetarian meals can normally be veganised.
  2. Vanesha, Crewe. ‘Such a lovely lady runs this place, it is all vegan and delicious.’
  3. V Rev Manchester. ‘Absolutely brilliant for a vegan fast food hit! You feel as if you have died and gone to vegan heaven!’

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.

Alison enjoyed the month so much, she has decided to stay vegan and her message to people thinking about taking part in Veganuary 2018 is: ‘Give veganism a go and don't worry about being 100% perfect. You can be less than perfect and still be part of the solution rather than the problem. Go with your heart and a well-informed head and just do the very best you can.’

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