Veganism a month on from the end of Veganuary...

Never before has the word vegan been so mainstream. 

It is everywhere; discussed on national radio and TV, in most magazines that I have scanned in the shops and what's more, discussed frequently and with enthusiasm amongst many people that I know. 

Several friends did veganuary and with surprising results. For those that didn’t, many (including me) are slowly making changes that shift the balance towards a more "vegan" diet/lifestyle. Now I know for the purists out there that one IS either a vegan or IS NOT a vegan – there is no middle ground – so perhaps the error on my part is the way I am referring to this shift. Rather than being vegan, the new softer and more forgiving movement seems to be towards becoming more "plant based" or to use another increasingly popular label, embracing the "flexitarian" lifestyle.  

The flexitarian tag sits well with me; I could quite happily become vegetarian and not miss meat at all, although I would miss fish hugely. For me, thinking about the lack of cheese with a vegan lifestyle triggers a cold sweat, and perhaps in the summer I would miss the odd ice cream... although the soya and coconut ones are both delicious so maybe for me it lies simply with cheese!! Oh and eggs, I do love eggs and for me they are a significant source of good protein and one that is simple, inexpensive and quick to turn into a delicious dish. I’d miss those too. 

Anyway less about me...

However you wish to label this societal shift, it IS happening. People are waking up to the need to alter eating and lifestyle habits not only for health and/or ethical beliefs but for the environment too. The shift is becoming easier because of the availability of great vegan friendly food that is, in most areas, fairly mainstream and accessible.  

I am not suggesting that we all try to become vegan or even vegetarian – I honestly don’t think that is a realistic solution for the masses. What I do believe however is that we can all take steps towards eating less meat and the meat that we do choose to eat, have a small portion of it and ensure that it is of the best quality that we can afford. "Meat-free Mondays" have been a great way of raising awareness but if you already have one veggie meal per week why not aim for two or three meat-free meals per week? Or even one veggie and one vegan meal per week?

I found that it makes me more creative with my cooking and although I have had a few disastrous food combinations along the way, there are many of my "experiments" that I shall stick with and which you will soon see in the Sochal recipe bank for you to have a go at!

So in summary, I believe that most of us could and arguably should be eating less meat, better quality meat and focusing more on vegetarian protein sources for a healthier, cheaper and more sustainable basis to our meals. We are challenging you to go veggie for two or three of your seven meals this/next week and let us know what meals you choose!

Have fun choosing some new recipes!