Friday, 8 January, 2016
Sarah Cook suggests eight great things we can resolve to do for other animals, the planet and ourselves this year.
January is a time of fresh starts and fresh promises to ourselves. Resolutions can be very inward looking, but this isn’t a bad thing: winter is a natural time for reflection after all, and we benefit hugely from taking the time to think about ourselves, who we are and what we want. Lots of people also choose to look at the world around them, their relations to other beings, and elect to make a resolution based upon their impact on others.
It’s no wonder then why we’ve had over 400 people sign up to our Vegan Pledge in the first week of January, with the numbers growing each day. And it’s not too late for you or your friends and family to resolve to go vegan: you can sign up to the Pledge here, as well as gain heaps of advice from our blog, lifestyle and nutrition sections.
But for those of us who are already vegan, here are some suggestions for resolutions you might want to keep this 2016 that don’t involve putting down the cake for the kale!
1) Resolve to be a more active campaigner
Get together with a few friends and do something active to promote veganism. One of the best ways is by getting involved with public events near you. For example, you can run a vegan information stall at your local market, a DIY gig or at a social event at your community centre. You don’t even have to wait for an event if you have permission from your council to set up shop on your local high street.
Think it sounds like hard work? Don’t be put off! Each timeor Vegan Society supporters conduct outreach at a non-vegan event, we can receive between 50-100 Vegan Pledge sign ups, with the majority of people staying vegan after they complete their Pledge. You too could inspire such a large number of people – imagine how many people we could impact if every vegan ran an outreach stall!
And never fear: we are here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice as well as free Pledge sign-up sheets and leaflets to hand out on stalls. You could even apply for a small grant if you have a specific project in mind. Lastly, we are always looking for new people who want to be Local Contacts to help with outreach and advocacy in their local area, so please get in touch.
2) Resolve to support animals near you
Most of us are vegan for the animals, so perhaps this year is a good time to resolve to do more for those without a voice. You could volunteer at your closest animal shelter, or foster/adopt an abandoned companion animal. Joining a nearby wildlife group will help you get to know the types of wild animals that live near you, while forming your own group to raise money and support for local animals is a stellar idea. There’s a wide range of things to choose from so you are sure to find something that suits you. If you don’t have spare time but have the cash, local animal sanctuaries are likely to appreciate donations during this time of year.(Photography by Vicki Harkness at Perry Hill Farm Sanctuary).
3) Resolve to brush up on your cooking skills
You are what you eat, and we can all get stuck in a rut of eating the same familiar meals over and over. There’s no need to get rid of family favourites, but adding a few new recipes to your repertoire is a fantastic and tasty way to broaden the range of foods you eat. And let’s not forget the fact that cooking delicious vegan food to share with non-vegans is a form of activism! You could start a recipe group with your friends so you can share tips and techniques, or join some of the many vegan recipe groups online. If you are stuck for inspiration, why not check out our recipe pages, subscribe to our magazine (free for members) or treat yourself to one of the many lovely cookbooks in our shop? Don’t forget that you can read more about health and nutrition here so you can be extra-knowledgeable and become one step closer to being a vegan food guru!
4) Resolve to go outside every day
Get connected to nature and the environment around you. Even if you live in the middle of a city there are likely to be parks and gardens for you to enjoy. You don’t have to sign up to run that marathon (unless you want to!) as a short walk in the fresh air every day will already provide a big boost to your mood. Not only is this great for your mental health, it gently reminds you of the living world (and the animals in it) that benefit hugely from your decision. If you find you’re needing this reminder a lot, you might want to read this article on avoiding activist burn out. Remember, you’re not alone!
5) Resolve to explore your local region
Instead of flying abroad why not swap the carbon footprint for boot prints and take a break in your own country? Action-packed options such as trekking and mountain biking are likely to be available in your region, while for us more sedate creatures there are city breaks full of culture and history. If you’re in the UK our Local Contacts will be able to offer advice and tips on places in their area to visit. This also gives you a wonderful opportunity to try out that vegan restaurant you’ve been meaning to visit but never had a chance to, as well as meet up with friends who you haven’t seen for ages. Here’s hoping you can do both at once and really impress them with how great vegan cuisine is these days! Check out Happy Cow for restaurants, cafes and bars near your destination.
6) Resolve to get creative!
Arts and crafts are more than fun hobbies: they are a great way to de-stress and express yourself. They can even be a form of outreach: our recent Winter edition of The Vegan highlighted the number of vegan artists who use their art to communicate their veganism.
As well as that, these are life skills. Knowing how to sew on a button or repair a rip can keep your favourite clothes going for longer and, if you are into upcycling, you can turn something old into something new! The less new things we need to buy, the less resources we use and the more spare money we have. There are a wide range of vegan crafters on the internet, as well as information on where to buy ethical art supplies.
7) Resolve to support vegan business
There are more and more new businesses selling vegan products and ingredients. Our busy team in the office reply to hundreds of applications for our Vegan Trademark every week, and new products are added all the time. Keep an eye out in the Shoparound section of our magazine as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages to learn about what innovative and exciting product is coming onto the market. Supporting individuals and companies in their vegan creations will widen access to vegan products, thus increasing the number of vegans. Don’t forget that as a member you can receive discounts from many of our Trademark holders, so consider joining online today.
8) Resolve to switch your suppliers
Something that we always think about, and often put off – switching to greener, more eco-friendly and ethical companies for our everyday needs. If you’re in the UK, you can also supportby making the switch to one of our partner organisations like Ecotricity or the Co-operative Bank. If you do, they will make a donation on your behalf. Just go to this page on our website to find out how easy it is.
Happy new year! Let’s make it count.
By Sarah Cook