VEGANISM certainly received its fair share of publicity this year.
Trademark campaigns flew high, months were commandeered to plug its cause and animal-based slurs were called into question.
But despite its controversy, its rise in popularity is undeniable with some 600,000 identifying as vegan in Britain – four times as many than in 2014.
‘Veganism is fashionable’ is a common response I get when it comes up.
And with ghastly Twitter hashtags like #veganbae flying about and designer baked goods clogging newsfeeds, I can understand why.
But from someone who once mistook Instagram for a kitchen appliance, there are many like me who – after losing my veggie-plates four years ago – have never looked back.
This year, 300,000 people are expected to take the Veganuary pledge whether it be for ethical, environmental or health reasons.
Statistics suggest for every person going vegan in January, around 30 animals will be spared along with 33,000 gallons of water, 600lb of C02 and 1,200lb of grain.
Earlier this year, an analysis published by academic journal Science, revealed animal consumption makes up over 80 per cent of agriculture land yet only accounts for 18 per cent of calories in the average diet.
Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the biggest cause of mass extinction of wildlife and the scientists concluded if people omitted animal products from their diet, it would reduce food’s land use by over 75 per cent and halve greenhouse gases.
And before the propaganda pitch forks come out, any intelligent person will know ‘the laughing cow’ is definitely not that happy – plugged to a milking machine and forced to part with her baby whether it be a day or six months later.
This was one of the things which pushed me to make the change.
Before I became vegan, eating out was my biggest concern. But now I’m no longer ‘the awkward one’ with restaurants offering a range of options beyond the token bean chilli and stuffed pepper.
And now even more chains have joined the fray – or the bandwagon if you’re a cynic – from Bella Italia and Giraffe to Toby Carvery and Slug and Lettuce, as well as more pubs and independent places offering vegan dishes.
As for staying in, you don’t need a cupboard full of exotic ingredients no one can pronounce. I’m as much a fan of sausage and mash as anyone – and the guilt free bit is an added bonus.
Supermarket brands have upped their vegan game with their affordable take on frozen goods, plant-based milk and cheeses – with Asda’s Cranberry Wenslydale being a firm favourite among vegan foodies this winter.
To be part of the change is easier than it ever was.
And it doesn’t take a seasoned Instagrammer to see there’s #nofilter when it comes to the deteriorating health of our planet.
Visit veganuary.com for more information and advice.