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 Southport resident, Christina Mather-Bateman.

Christina Mather-Bateman

Christina Mather-Bateman

‘I come from a family of crazy animal lovers and so haven’t eaten meat since I was a child,’ she says. ‘I thought this was enough to do my bit for animals. I was under the illusion that because cows didn't die for milk, or chickens for eggs, that meant they were fine for us to eat. Then a friend went vegan and I started to research. I watched Earthlings and sobbed my heart out but I vowed I would educate myself. And I did. I watched Cowspiracy and other documentaries and read everything I could find. And it became clear that I had to do more, and so I signed up for Veganuary.’

Christina credits that decision with changing her life. The severe allergies that had plagued her for fifteen years all but vanished and she rarely needs her medication now. ‘I also sleep better, I have more energy and am not lethargic in the mornings,’ she says. ‘I will never go back to eating milk, cheese, eggs or any animal products. I only wish I had made the leap sooner.’

The health benefits for Christina have been overwhelming and she has found that the food is pretty good too! In fact, she has named her three favourite local restaurants that serve the best plant-based foods, and says they’ll appeal to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. She particularly hopes that anyone taking part in Veganuary 2018 will try them out.

The Plant Academy, Southport. ‘They make the most amazing avocado toast on sourdough bread, and chocolate peanut butter crispy slices.’

Zad's Vegan Takeaway, Chorlton, Manchester. ‘The “Gary” pizza, a vegan four-cheese pizza on the most amazing tomato sauce base. Like a lot of vegetarians before, I ate a lot of cheese and wondered how I would give it up. This pizza is like heaven for cheese lovers.’

Maguire's Pizza Bar, Liverpool. ‘I love the meatball and red onion pizza or their pizza dogs, a vegan hot dog wrapped in pizza with onions They also stock the most wonderful cupcakes from Cakehole Liverpool. Make sure you try the chocolate orange with buttercream and chocolate sprinkles.’

Says Veganuary CEO Simon Winch: ’Christina’s tips for eating out in the North-West look amazing, and indicate the extraordinary range of plant-based options that are available on high streets all over the country. Most people, like Christina 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 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 Christina we know exactly where we’ll be eating out next time we’re in Merseyside and Manchester!’

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.

Christina 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! ‘The anticipation of giving up animal products is a million times worse than the reality! Whatever foods you enjoy now, there will be a vegan version so why not just try it for a month?’ 

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