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I should have known better than to suggest I'd be able to post weekly updates for Veganuary.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time  manageable, even  but then life happened, as it inevitably does, and suddenly fortnightly updates became much more realistic. 

So, a quick recap: I'm taking part in Veganuary, the yearly event in which people give a vegan diet a go throughout January, although you can take part at any time of year if you wish. I'm just under halfway through, and on the whole I'm enjoying it so far.


Some context

  • I work full-time, I'm single, and I rent a room in a house share.
  • I'm only just starting out in my career, but I don't have anyone depending on me for income, so I can afford to spend a little bit extra on food here and there if I fancy it.
  • I cook and eat at home most nights  I make double and then have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Most of the time I'm only cooking for myself.
  • I get my shopping delivered from Tesco, and occasionally top it up with bits and bobs from the big Sainsbury's in town (more on those supermarkets later).
  • I'd been a vegetarian for a year before I started Veganuary 2018.

Why do you need to know this?

Everyone who is doing Veganuary will be in different circumstances. Someone whose diet wasn't vegetarian beforehand will be making more changes; someone who has a family to care for will be thinking of other people's diets as well as their own, and will have more responsibilities in general. I'm fortunate to have a lot of freedom when it comes to my diet, and I thought it was important to make a note of that before I start talking about my experiences. I also wanted to give you an idea of my everyday eating habits.

Creamy green vegetable soup

Week 1

I had leftover veggie lasagne which I didn't want to waste, so Veganuary started at dinner time on 1st January. I'd done a big shop a couple of days before, and decided to ease myself in by sticking to recipes I already know and use, like Creamy Green Vegetable Soup and Madeleine Shaw's Butternut Squash, Tomato & Coconut Curry.

(You can find the curry recipe in Shaw's most recent book, A Year of Beautiful Eating. Not every recipe is vegan or vegetarian, but a lot of them can be veganized and she has some good tips for eating seasonally. I borrowed a copy from my local library and saved the recipes I could use. Alternatively, there's a recipe for a similar dish on Red's website.)

Going through my list of staples made me realise that I eat even more vegan food than I first though, which was a pleasant surprise. Things like pastas, lentil stews, mixed-bean chillis, curries and veggie soups all regularly do the rounds  anything I can pack in my microwaveable pot for work the next day.

Speaking of, work wasn't too bad. There are normally packets of Skips and Chilli Heatwave Doritos in the snack cupboard (yep, they're vegan), Oreos in the biscuit jar (they're vegan too!) and tubs of hummus on the shared shelf in the fridge. I did miss out on a slice of my co-worker's birthday cake on the Friday afternoon, but I wasn't the only person in the office who couldn't eat it, so I didn't feel left out.

It was my best pal's birthday that weekend, meaning I had to contend with going out to eat. One of my friends is also doing Veganuary, so I wasn't alone, but I have that inherently British trait of feeling like a nuisance for making the slightest disturbance. Luckily, the waiter at the curry house in Brick Lane was really helpful (once I got the courage to ask him what was suitable) and he recommended the mixed vegetable curry. It was lovely  the perfect balance of heat and flavour. We also ate potato waffles with sriracha when we got home the next morning and let me tell you: I have never had a better drunk snack in my life.

Green smoothie

Week 2

With week one going so well, by week two I was starting to wonder why I'd been worried about Veganuary in the first place. But then the munchies hit me and I started craving cheesy foods. It took a lot of willpower to stop myself running into McDonalds and buying cheese melts on the way home from work, but I resisted (just). Carrying snacks in my bag has helped me deal with this (Nakd bars are very portable and I'm still signed up to Graze; I just changed my settings to vegan).

Continuing to get my shopping delivered has also come in handy, because I can't walk past any non-vegan foods and get tempted. I've been using Tesco's service since October, but I've only recently spotted their dietary filter, which is by Spoon Guru. All you need to do is select the vegan option and it immediately removes anything you can't have. Other filter options include vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, lactose-free, and organic.

Despite my love of online shopping, I did have a wander round Sainsbury's at the weekend to see if they had anything good, and I wasn't disappointed. Their free from mac 'n' cheese is the best one I've tried (although it does benefit from a little seasoning) and I also picked up a pack of their new BBQ pulled jackfruit, which I can't wait to eat in a wrap with some homemade slaw. Their grated vegan cheddar was grim, but I feel that way about most vegan cheeses I've tried so far, including the ones everyone seems to like, so don't let me put you off.

As for recipes, I thought it was time to try something new now I've settled into this way of eating. I received The New Vegan by Aine Carlin for Christmas, so that was my first stop, and everything I've made so far has been delicious. She does a lovely lentil curry, and the falafel burgers taste particularly good with a healthy drizzle of sweet chilli sauce. But my favourite discovery is the chickpea sandwich filler, which I like to refer to as a chickpea smoosh. It's a blend of chickpeas, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, dill and spices, and while the red onion isn't kind to your breath (thank god for mints), the flavours work really well together. I like mine served in a wholemeal wrap with cucumber and extra hummus. What would I do without chickpeas?

Are you taking part in Veganuary this year? How are you finding it? Let me know in the comments.

Further reading:

Veganuary, Weeks 1 & 2: Accidentally Vegan

I should have known better than to suggest I'd be able to post weekly updates for Veganuary.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time  manageable, even  but then life happened, as it inevitably does, and suddenly fortnightly updates became much more realistic. 

So, a quick recap: I'm taking part in Veganuary, the yearly event in which people give a vegan diet a go throughout January, although you can take part at any time of year if you wish. I'm just under halfway through, and on the whole I'm enjoying it so far.


Some context

  • I work full-time, I'm single, and I rent a room in a house share.
  • I'm only just starting out in my career, but I don't have anyone depending on me for income, so I can afford to spend a little bit extra on food here and there if I fancy it.
  • I cook and eat at home most nights  I make double and then have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Most of the time I'm only cooking for myself.
  • I get my shopping delivered from Tesco, and occasionally top it up with bits and bobs from the big Sainsbury's in town (more on those supermarkets later).
  • I'd been a vegetarian for a year before I started Veganuary 2018.

Why do you need to know this?

Everyone who is doing Veganuary will be in different circumstances. Someone whose diet wasn't vegetarian beforehand will be making more changes; someone who has a family to care for will be thinking of other people's diets as well as their own, and will have more responsibilities in general. I'm fortunate to have a lot of freedom when it comes to my diet, and I thought it was important to make a note of that before I start talking about my experiences. I also wanted to give you an idea of my everyday eating habits.

Creamy green vegetable soup

Week 1

I had leftover veggie lasagne which I didn't want to waste, so Veganuary started at dinner time on 1st January. I'd done a big shop a couple of days before, and decided to ease myself in by sticking to recipes I already know and use, like Creamy Green Vegetable Soup and Madeleine Shaw's Butternut Squash, Tomato & Coconut Curry.

(You can find the curry recipe in Shaw's most recent book, A Year of Beautiful Eating. Not every recipe is vegan or vegetarian, but a lot of them can be veganized and she has some good tips for eating seasonally. I borrowed a copy from my local library and saved the recipes I could use. Alternatively, there's a recipe for a similar dish on Red's website.)

Going through my list of staples made me realise that I eat even more vegan food than I first though, which was a pleasant surprise. Things like pastas, lentil stews, mixed-bean chillis, curries and veggie soups all regularly do the rounds  anything I can pack in my microwaveable pot for work the next day.

Speaking of, work wasn't too bad. There are normally packets of Skips and Chilli Heatwave Doritos in the snack cupboard (yep, they're vegan), Oreos in the biscuit jar (they're vegan too!) and tubs of hummus on the shared shelf in the fridge. I did miss out on a slice of my co-worker's birthday cake on the Friday afternoon, but I wasn't the only person in the office who couldn't eat it, so I didn't feel left out.

It was my best pal's birthday that weekend, meaning I had to contend with going out to eat. One of my friends is also doing Veganuary, so I wasn't alone, but I have that inherently British trait of feeling like a nuisance for making the slightest disturbance. Luckily, the waiter at the curry house in Brick Lane was really helpful (once I got the courage to ask him what was suitable) and he recommended the mixed vegetable curry. It was lovely  the perfect balance of heat and flavour. We also ate potato waffles with sriracha when we got home the next morning and let me tell you: I have never had a better drunk snack in my life.

Green smoothie

Week 2

With week one going so well, by week two I was starting to wonder why I'd been worried about Veganuary in the first place. But then the munchies hit me and I started craving cheesy foods. It took a lot of willpower to stop myself running into McDonalds and buying cheese melts on the way home from work, but I resisted (just). Carrying snacks in my bag has helped me deal with this (Nakd bars are very portable and I'm still signed up to Graze; I just changed my settings to vegan).

Continuing to get my shopping delivered has also come in handy, because I can't walk past any non-vegan foods and get tempted. I've been using Tesco's service since October, but I've only recently spotted their dietary filter, which is by Spoon Guru. All you need to do is select the vegan option and it immediately removes anything you can't have. Other filter options include vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, lactose-free, and organic.

Despite my love of online shopping, I did have a wander round Sainsbury's at the weekend to see if they had anything good, and I wasn't disappointed. Their free from mac 'n' cheese is the best one I've tried (although it does benefit from a little seasoning) and I also picked up a pack of their new BBQ pulled jackfruit, which I can't wait to eat in a wrap with some homemade slaw. Their grated vegan cheddar was grim, but I feel that way about most vegan cheeses I've tried so far, including the ones everyone seems to like, so don't let me put you off.

As for recipes, I thought it was time to try something new now I've settled into this way of eating. I received The New Vegan by Aine Carlin for Christmas, so that was my first stop, and everything I've made so far has been delicious. She does a lovely lentil curry, and the falafel burgers taste particularly good with a healthy drizzle of sweet chilli sauce. But my favourite discovery is the chickpea sandwich filler, which I like to refer to as a chickpea smoosh. It's a blend of chickpeas, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, dill and spices, and while the red onion isn't kind to your breath (thank god for mints), the flavours work really well together. I like mine served in a wholemeal wrap with cucumber and extra hummus. What would I do without chickpeas?

Are you taking part in Veganuary this year? How are you finding it? Let me know in the comments.

Further reading:

I've lost count of the amount of times I've said something like, 'I'd like to go vegan one day' over the past year. And with Veganuary upon us, now seems like the perfect time to finally give it a try.

What is Veganuary?
  • Veganuary is a charity which encourages people to try a vegan diet throughout the month of January (or at any other point during the year, if that suits you better).
  • This means I won't be eating any meat, fish, eggs, honey or dairy products from 1st-31st January 2018.
  • Veganuary provide information about the vegan lifestyle on their website, including a starter kit.

At the beginning of 2017 I had only just stopped eating fish to become a full-fledged vegetarian, so the timing wasn't right. From the beginning, I've been adamant that I'll make changes at my own pace, and a gradual switch works better for me than giving everything up at once.

But at this point, my meals are vegan a good 80-90% of the time. I want to see if I can eat a completely vegan diet.

Vegan tomato bruschetta

Why am I doing Veganuary?
  • I'd like to reduce the amount of animal products I consume.
  • I want to kick the dairy habit for good.
  • I'm interested to see if I can actually stick to it for the whole month.

At one time, the reaction of other people would have bothered me, but not now. One of my bosses is a vegan, so work should be fairly straightforward (there's always hummus in the fridge for a start). My family and friends, although apprehensive at first, have got used to my vegetarianism. And my once-skeptical housemates have enjoyed all the veggie dishes I've cooked so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have to deal with too many unoriginal comments about vegans only eating grass, or plants having feelings.

My biggest obstacle is going to be emotional eating. If I had to sit in the Mean Girls cafeteria, I'd be at the table with the Girls Who Eat Their Feelings. In times of stress, I turn to comfort food, and my favourite comfort foods (pasta, pizza, mozzarella sticks) normally contain a considerable amount of cheese.

As much as I believe in indulging your cravings when you need to, I'd like to find some vegan alternatives to these foods. I'm already trying to perfect my butternut squash mac 'n' cheese recipe, but let me know if you have any suggestions  aside from the obvious, there are very few foods I don't like.

I'm aiming to post updates every Wednesday, but any kind of blogging schedule has fallen out the window since I started my current job, so don't hold me to that! I'll do my best.

Have you ever taken part in Veganuary? Is it something you would consider trying? Let me know in the comments.

Want to sign up for Veganuary? Click here.

I'm Doing Veganuary

I've lost count of the amount of times I've said something like, 'I'd like to go vegan one day' over the past year. And with Veganuary upon us, now seems like the perfect time to finally give it a try.

What is Veganuary?
  • Veganuary is a charity which encourages people to try a vegan diet throughout the month of January (or at any other point during the year, if that suits you better).
  • This means I won't be eating any meat, fish, eggs, honey or dairy products from 1st-31st January 2018.
  • Veganuary provide information about the vegan lifestyle on their website, including a starter kit.

At the beginning of 2017 I had only just stopped eating fish to become a full-fledged vegetarian, so the timing wasn't right. From the beginning, I've been adamant that I'll make changes at my own pace, and a gradual switch works better for me than giving everything up at once.

But at this point, my meals are vegan a good 80-90% of the time. I want to see if I can eat a completely vegan diet.

Vegan tomato bruschetta

Why am I doing Veganuary?
  • I'd like to reduce the amount of animal products I consume.
  • I want to kick the dairy habit for good.
  • I'm interested to see if I can actually stick to it for the whole month.

At one time, the reaction of other people would have bothered me, but not now. One of my bosses is a vegan, so work should be fairly straightforward (there's always hummus in the fridge for a start). My family and friends, although apprehensive at first, have got used to my vegetarianism. And my once-skeptical housemates have enjoyed all the veggie dishes I've cooked so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have to deal with too many unoriginal comments about vegans only eating grass, or plants having feelings.

My biggest obstacle is going to be emotional eating. If I had to sit in the Mean Girls cafeteria, I'd be at the table with the Girls Who Eat Their Feelings. In times of stress, I turn to comfort food, and my favourite comfort foods (pasta, pizza, mozzarella sticks) normally contain a considerable amount of cheese.

As much as I believe in indulging your cravings when you need to, I'd like to find some vegan alternatives to these foods. I'm already trying to perfect my butternut squash mac 'n' cheese recipe, but let me know if you have any suggestions  aside from the obvious, there are very few foods I don't like.

I'm aiming to post updates every Wednesday, but any kind of blogging schedule has fallen out the window since I started my current job, so don't hold me to that! I'll do my best.

Have you ever taken part in Veganuary? Is it something you would consider trying? Let me know in the comments.

Want to sign up for Veganuary? Click here.
Recently I've noticed a shift in attitudes when it comes to ethical living.

Partly fueled by the brilliance of Blue Planet, partly fueled by the blogger/influencer fur scandal (you're wearing and promoting real fur in this day and age? Really?), a lot of us have been looking at our own lifestyle choices and what we can do better.

Whether it's cutting down on the amount of animal byproducts we consume, going completely vegetarian or vegan, or only buying cruelty-free products from now on, people are taking steps to reduce the impact they have on animals and the environment. Even famous YouTubers like Louise Pentland are getting stuck in, which could have a significant impact on people's buying habits.

These changes have also led to the unfortunate but also unsurprising chorus of 'Why are you interested in cf beauty when you eat meat?' and other such questions. While I agree that the two don't fully match up, everyone has to start somewhere, and it's counterproductive to criticize people for not being cruelty-free enough when they're trying to do what they can. One thing will often lead to another, but it takes time to adjust.

With all of this in mind, I thought it was about time for another Going Cruelty Free post, and this time I've compiled some of the best advice I've heard about switching to a cruelty-free beauty routine, including some thoughts from members of the Love Lula Natural Beauty Club. I'm still learning about leading a more ethical lifestyle, but I hope you find this guide useful, and please feel free to add any other nuggets of wisdom in the comments.


Start slowly

It can be so tempting to fling everything out and make a fresh start once you decide to go cruelty free. But you don't need to.

"Personally, I'd say don't chuck out everything you own," says Sarah. "As each item starts to run out, read blogs and do your research on the individual item, rather than be overwhelmed by the feeling of having to choose lots of products."

Depending on the products on your bathroom shelves and the contents of your make-up bag, you might have a lot to replace, so take it slow. When I first decided to go cruelty free, I mostly owned make-up by Revlon, L'oreal and Max Factor - all brands that test on animals. I threw out everything that had expired, used up the rest, and gradually started refreshing my collection until I was happy.

Bryanna agrees: "Don't throw away what you have - either use it up or give it to someone who wants it (or swap it in a Facebook group). While finishing what you have, start to build up your essentials - skincare, make-up etc. If you're not sure where to start, do a quick Google search. By replacing what you need slowly you won't break the bank!"

Do your research

Speaking of Google, it's especially handy when scouting out cruelty free brands to try. But if you don't have the time to scout out each individual website and read all the ethical policies (or if you notice the lack of an ethical policy  that's normally a solid clue a company tests), then don't worry. You can head to an online database instead.

"Cruelty Free International have a complete list of brands that are Leaping Bunny approved," notes Joanna. Companies who have earned the Leaping Bunny logo will have passed a strict set of standards  you can find their Little Book of Cruelty Free here.

Or why not try a blog like Logical Harmony? Tashina has a cruelty free list with vegan options, a brands to avoid list... I always find what I'm looking for when I visit her site.


Find your go-to shops

It's good when you're able to sit down and plan what you're going to buy, but what happens when you need to dash into a shop and buy toothpaste or deodorant?

If you're on the high street, head into your local Superdrug and look for their own-brand products, which are all Leaping Bunny-certified and sold at budget prices. Or try ordering from a website like Love Lula, which only stocks cruelty-free brands.

Try natural brands too

"I tend to choose natural brands/products first and foremost," says Rena, "and their hearts are usually in the right place."

I don't think I could ever go completely natural with beauty, but Rena's right  natural brands are normally more switched on when it comes to animal welfare. My favourites include Alchemy's gorgeous hair oils, Sukin's gentle skincare selection, and Lyonsleaf's do-it-all multipurpose balms.

It's okay if you can't do everything

A common piece of advice (and the most important, in my opinion) is to be kind to yourself.

"Appreciate and celebrate every new purchase you make that is supporting a cruelty-free brand," says Jo, "but don't beat yourself up when you're not able to. We still buy cat food from a brand that tests on animals, as it's medicated and suits out cat's needs as a diabetic. So although I'd rather make a different choice to support a more ethical company, it's more important for me that he stays healthy and stable." (Check out Jo's blog here and her Twitter account here.)

This brings me back to the one thing I would say to anyone and everyone who'd like to go cruelty free: do what you can. All you can do is your best, and doing something is better than not doing anything at all.

Want to catch up? You can read previous posts from my Going Cruelty Free series here:

Going Cruelty Free: Advice From People Who've Been There

Recently I've noticed a shift in attitudes when it comes to ethical living.

Partly fueled by the brilliance of Blue Planet, partly fueled by the blogger/influencer fur scandal (you're wearing and promoting real fur in this day and age? Really?), a lot of us have been looking at our own lifestyle choices and what we can do better.

Whether it's cutting down on the amount of animal byproducts we consume, going completely vegetarian or vegan, or only buying cruelty-free products from now on, people are taking steps to reduce the impact they have on animals and the environment. Even famous YouTubers like Louise Pentland are getting stuck in, which could have a significant impact on people's buying habits.

These changes have also led to the unfortunate but also unsurprising chorus of 'Why are you interested in cf beauty when you eat meat?' and other such questions. While I agree that the two don't fully match up, everyone has to start somewhere, and it's counterproductive to criticize people for not being cruelty-free enough when they're trying to do what they can. One thing will often lead to another, but it takes time to adjust.

With all of this in mind, I thought it was about time for another Going Cruelty Free post, and this time I've compiled some of the best advice I've heard about switching to a cruelty-free beauty routine, including some thoughts from members of the Love Lula Natural Beauty Club. I'm still learning about leading a more ethical lifestyle, but I hope you find this guide useful, and please feel free to add any other nuggets of wisdom in the comments.


Start slowly

It can be so tempting to fling everything out and make a fresh start once you decide to go cruelty free. But you don't need to.

"Personally, I'd say don't chuck out everything you own," says Sarah. "As each item starts to run out, read blogs and do your research on the individual item, rather than be overwhelmed by the feeling of having to choose lots of products."

Depending on the products on your bathroom shelves and the contents of your make-up bag, you might have a lot to replace, so take it slow. When I first decided to go cruelty free, I mostly owned make-up by Revlon, L'oreal and Max Factor - all brands that test on animals. I threw out everything that had expired, used up the rest, and gradually started refreshing my collection until I was happy.

Bryanna agrees: "Don't throw away what you have - either use it up or give it to someone who wants it (or swap it in a Facebook group). While finishing what you have, start to build up your essentials - skincare, make-up etc. If you're not sure where to start, do a quick Google search. By replacing what you need slowly you won't break the bank!"

Do your research

Speaking of Google, it's especially handy when scouting out cruelty free brands to try. But if you don't have the time to scout out each individual website and read all the ethical policies (or if you notice the lack of an ethical policy  that's normally a solid clue a company tests), then don't worry. You can head to an online database instead.

"Cruelty Free International have a complete list of brands that are Leaping Bunny approved," notes Joanna. Companies who have earned the Leaping Bunny logo will have passed a strict set of standards  you can find their Little Book of Cruelty Free here.

Or why not try a blog like Logical Harmony? Tashina has a cruelty free list with vegan options, a brands to avoid list... I always find what I'm looking for when I visit her site.


Find your go-to shops

It's good when you're able to sit down and plan what you're going to buy, but what happens when you need to dash into a shop and buy toothpaste or deodorant?

If you're on the high street, head into your local Superdrug and look for their own-brand products, which are all Leaping Bunny-certified and sold at budget prices. Or try ordering from a website like Love Lula, which only stocks cruelty-free brands.

Try natural brands too

"I tend to choose natural brands/products first and foremost," says Rena, "and their hearts are usually in the right place."

I don't think I could ever go completely natural with beauty, but Rena's right  natural brands are normally more switched on when it comes to animal welfare. My favourites include Alchemy's gorgeous hair oils, Sukin's gentle skincare selection, and Lyonsleaf's do-it-all multipurpose balms.

It's okay if you can't do everything

A common piece of advice (and the most important, in my opinion) is to be kind to yourself.

"Appreciate and celebrate every new purchase you make that is supporting a cruelty-free brand," says Jo, "but don't beat yourself up when you're not able to. We still buy cat food from a brand that tests on animals, as it's medicated and suits out cat's needs as a diabetic. So although I'd rather make a different choice to support a more ethical company, it's more important for me that he stays healthy and stable." (Check out Jo's blog here and her Twitter account here.)

This brings me back to the one thing I would say to anyone and everyone who'd like to go cruelty free: do what you can. All you can do is your best, and doing something is better than not doing anything at all.

Want to catch up? You can read previous posts from my Going Cruelty Free series here:

Shop My Favourites


Beth, 23, South East England. I'm a writer with a love of books, lipstick, and the Oxford comma. I love beauty and I also love animals, so I only buy, use, and feature products from cruelty-free brands. (Seriously though, I am the person who stops to fuss over every dog she sees.) You can also expect posts about vegan/vegetarian food, and plenty of musings about life as a 20-something. Want to get in touch? Email me at beth.toasty@gmail.com

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