New Year, new resolutions, new outlooks… new diets. It’s that time of year when we all try to make a fresh start – and it’s no surprise that many of us want to begin by cleaning up our act in the kitchen. And, of course, with lockdown still a fact of life, an improvement in diet can be a wonderful way of keeping healthy and happy. For some, this means going gluten-free or cutting down on sugar; for others, ‘tis the season to go vegan.
By some estimates, there are almost 700,000 vegans in the UK alone. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Google tells us that, over the past five years, interest in veganism has increased seven-fold.
For vegans, this month is traditionally the time to shine – when the veterans look for new vegan-friendly products on the shelves, and when the fresh converts come rolling in (though who knows how long they’ll last!).
But all this talk of Veganuary got me thinking: Should choosing to eat healthily, to maintain an ethical lifestyle and to make sustainable choices be the sole preserve of the vegans?
No! Absolutely not!
Everyone deserves to be able to make a sustainable impact – whatever their preferences. Veganism is a personal choice. Meat-lovers and cheese fans should be free to enjoy their food, safe in the knowledge that their choices are ethical, and that their impact on nature and the climate is minimal.
That’s definitely been the ethos at Ewhurst Park, where being a “steward of the land” means farming organically, responsibly and with care for the local environment. And it’s the driving force behind The Good Plot in Notting Hill, where we pride ourselves on our sustainable vision. I’m always glad to see the vegan faces light up when they come through the doors and see out Veganuary Dinner Kit (take it from me, it’s delicious). But I’m equally glad to see the non-vegans enjoy our meat products, which haven’t cost the Earth to travel to Westbourne Grove. Yes, there’s a daily local milk delivery – but it’s organic!
We must remember that, at its heart, a “vegan” diet is simply a “plant-based” diet. After all, our great NHS itself recommends plant-based nutrition as part of a healthy, balanced diet. But it’s very, very easy to be vegan and to still eat unhealthily, or to make unethical, unsustainable choices – you could call yourself vegan and still buy animal-free products flown in from thousands of miles away.
I want to change all that. I want to make our approach to living healthy and sustainable. Whether you’re a vegan or a carnivore, it all starts on the kitchen table.