The campaign to encourage people to try vegan in January is now in its fifth year, and is all set to be bigger than ever with Veganuary announcing that more than 150,000 people have registered to try vegan for the month. Last year, there were 60,000 registered participants from 172 countries, and one of them was Tooting resident, Frances Pattison.



‘Running out of things to watch on Netflix,’ she says, ‘I stumbled across Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Overwhelmed with the content, but equally dubious of conspiracy theories, I started to read up on the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry, and also began to question whether killing animals for consumption was actually something I believed was correct. Almost without pause, my moral compass pointed me in a very new and unexpected direction, and I followed.’

Frances signed up to Veganuary there and then, and hasn’t looked back. She has been vegan for 13 months and describes it as ‘the best decision I have ever made, hands down.’

‘Being vegan allows me to live a compassionate life, to help our planet and stop animal cruelty. I feel a much happier person knowing that my lifestyle choices are in tune with my beliefs. But I have to admit I was worried at first. Being a competitive squad member at Putney Town Rowing Club, I was worried about how I was going to keep up with my 6-day training programme, but I have never felt healthier or stronger. My times on the rowing machine actually improved. It’s amazing how much energy and goodness are in a plant based diet!’

Food is clearly a key component to being a happy vegan, and Frances has chosen her two favourite local restaurants - and one worth trekking to - to help all south London residents who are taking part in Veganuary.

Bonnington Café ‘Located in a friendly square in Vauxhall and serving up beautiful vegan dishes in a quirky and bohemian setting, Bonnington Café is a co-operatively-run vegetarian and vegan restaurant. The cool thing about this place is that it is maintained by an active collective of cooks from all over the world, so the menu is always very interesting!’

Vegan Express: A few minutes’ walk from Tooting Broadway, tasty homemade plant-based food made from scratch. Behind a very busy Tooting Broadway, this place offers a very relaxed hideaway with a great menu. In the evening there is a nice ambiance as the candles get rolled out.’

Mildreds: ‘Everyone’s favourite vegetarian restaurant, and one of my favourite Sri Lankan curries in town (sweet potato and green bean curry with roasted lime cashews, pea basmati rice and coconut tomato sambal).’

It is free to take part in Veganuary, and everyone who does so receives daily support emails that offer shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans, and answers to common questions. They also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where they can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month. 

Frances enjoyed the month so much, she has decided to stay vegan and her message to people thinking about taking part in Veganuary 2018 is: do it! ‘Going vegan is one of the best things you can do as an individual to lower your carbon footprint. There are lots of websites now which explain how the meat and dairy industries are harming the environment on an inexcusable scale, so start reading! Take control of your diet choices with an informed head on your shoulders and don’t be afraid to challenge the norm. You CAN live without cheese!’

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