November is World Vegan Month
World Vegan Month is almost as old as myself, celebrating 27 years in 2021, yet somehow this is the first year I’ve paid much attention. I’m fairly certain it’s because in our 11th week of lockdown in Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau, I had been spending more time online than anyone should. The month kicks off on November 1st with World Vegan Day - established in 1994 to celebrate 50 years of the UK Vegan Society, it has grown exponentially in popularity since its inception.
I have been vegan for just over six years now, and a lot has changed. It went from chasing the one good burger truck (Wise Boys) around the city every weekend, to being able to get a vegan Trumpet ice cream from my local corner dairy. I started my journey as a three-month health experiment, and while I didn’t feel ready to give up cheese for life, I couldn’t deny that I felt better than ever. I set a date in the calendar to have consumed all of the animal products in the house and began by researching easy vegan recipes. At the time, I was also training for my first half marathon, so I tried my hand at concocting some truly horrendous mid-run fuel that the vegan ultrarunners swore by.
I never found myself bounding out of bed, but I did notice an increase in energy throughout the day and no more food hangovers. In the beginning, I was what most people would call plant-based, which is more for the health benefits, but once I saw the difference my choices could make to animals and the environment, there was no going back.
While there are still some foods I miss, I now liken the smell of bacon to freshly cut grass - it’s amazing, but I don’t want to eat it. If you’ve been thinking about veganism or even just trying out a few more plant-based meals, there are plenty of places to start. The NZ Vegan Society has collated some of their best guides for getting started, with the ‘A Guide to Vegan’ Facebook page being one of my favourites.
If you’re in Aotearoa and like having the meals planned out for you, The Kai Box put together weekly recipes and have the ingredients delivered right to your door. One of the most challenging parts of being vegan for me is finding a healthy meal in a pinch, and if you’re short on cooking time, you can now order incredibly tasty frozen meals from Berkano or Prep Plant-Based Meals. As much as I love that you can get a vegan pizza from all the major chains, it is nice to have something nutritious ready to heat and eat.
I’m not going to lie, there have been a few other challenges along the way, like finding a cruelty free deodorant that will cover you for a long run or a concealer that has your back after a late night. Thankfully, major stores like Sephora and Mecca now stock a wide range of vegan options to see you through any season. While I had to ditch my habit of buying retro Jordan sneakers, many major shoe brands are getting on board – Adidas, Nike and Dr Marten are now providing vegan collections as the movement grows.
So what are you waiting for? There’s never been an easier time to make the switch to choices that are kinder for the planet, for the animals and for yourself. Happy World Vegan Month!
Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at mynameischanelle.com.