• Niki

Vegan lifestyle - Going cold turkey or taking small steps?

January is gone and with it #veganuary is finished too with a record of 250 000 participants. I admire everyone who took part and implemented a whole lot of change into their lives from one day to another.

The impacts of changing to a vegan diet is plenty-fold. Apart from the obvious kindness to all living beings, it also has health and nutritional benefits, and a tremendous impact on our planet. Although being vegan is not just about diet, there is a lot that can be done, even if you can't find the strength in you to part with cheese.

We are not a vegan household, but we are very conscious of our impact on others and on the planet in general, and of how nutrition affects our wellbeing. If you fancy giving it a go and making a change, but are a lot like us, and cannot commit to a fully vegan lifestyle, there is still plenty to start with.

A gradual, slow or small change is still a change, and it has a huge overall impact.

Here is a list of products that are not related to diet, but you can swap to ease yourself in to a vegan life:

- Cosmetics and toiletries:

soap, shampoo, conditioner - these can be tested on animals.

make up, mascara, lipstick - these can contain fish scales, apart from possibly being tested on animals too.

make up brushes - they can be made of animal fur.

- Cleaning products: they can be tested on animals, as well as possibly contain harmful chemicals, which affect a range of species after entering the water cycle.

- Candles: can contain beeswax. Luckily there is a great variety of soy wax candles to choose from, when one is on a search! I personally think that they burn and smell much nicer too.

- Latex condoms: yes, latex contains casein, which is a milk derivative. If you google 'vegan condoms', fortunately a lot of alternatives come up, so this is no excuse not to use it!

- Vitamins and supplements: contain animal byproducts.

- Tattoo ink: search for the right artist, because non-vegan tattoo ink contains shellac from beetles.

- Chewing gum: most of them are made with gelatine.

Two more to look out for that are related to diet:

- Beer and wine: during clarification and filtration the use of egg whites and other animal products is very common and widespread. There is definitely a market emerging for natural and vegan wines (and beers), although it does limit your choices greatly, if you are a wine-lover.

- Soup: canned, tinned or boxed soups often contain broth that was prepared with meat and bones. To be honest, many restaurants do this and still sell their dishes as vegetarian... so best to cook your own soup. That way, the waste issue is tackled too. Win-win!

If you can't go 'cold turkey', but do want to feel some health benefits of a vegan diet, try tackling these:

- Dairy: I'm a great lover of cheese, cream and butter, and there was a time that I thought, life without them just doesn't worth living... I didn't even try cutting it all out, instead I made smaller changes. I've limited my butter and cheese intake to very little; I tried some vegan alternatives, and really liked some of them (once I to let go of the flavour/texture expectation); and substituted milk to oat milk (which is just delicious).

- Meat, fish: 'Everything in moderation.' - if people didn't have meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and didn't think that meat is the centre of every dish, that could already make a huge difference. Stop eating it out of convenience, and start eating it out of enjoyment, occasionally and as a special treat!

If you fancy reading up a bit more on Veganuary and on a vegan lifestyle in general, there is a great amount of info here.

If you have are vegan (or not) and have some great advice and tips, add them to the comments.