The Climate team member Krish Srinivasan tells us how he found going vegan to kick off 2024. Recipe link at bottom of page.

There are, as with everything else, many nuances to eating sustainably. How organically farmed are the products we consume? Have they required much transport to reach our plates? 

We think of beef as bad, but dairy-herd grass-fed beef raised and consumed in the UK likely has a lower carbon footprint than chocolate or other products grown in deforested Brazilian rainforests. ‘Woke’ vegan protestors brandishing their placards don’t use common sense, said Piers Morgan famously, when they eat avocados and almonds, which apparently result in the death of several billion bees.

So, with all these bits of information flying around and not enough time to read up and educate oneself on them all, many have turned to veganism as a broad solution. It’s better for the environment. It’s more compassionate towards animals. It’s healthier — in terms of disease, bodily health and weight control.

Having been born and raised vegetarian (with a much regretted munchies-fuelled foray into meat-eating in my teenage years), veganism was the natural next step for me. What better time to try it out than Veganuary?

I figured it would be easy for numerous reasons. As an Indian veggie, I was raised to consider eggs as meat; therefore, avoiding eggs was not an issue. Moreover, a slight aversion to dairy milk has led me to milk alternatives — oat and soy — for the past few years. And, after all, it’s only a month! So why not?

The big hurdles for me, then, were 1) cheese and 2) chocolate. I love paneer, but tofu worked as an excellent substitute, and I found that vegan chocolate was pretty tasty. Terry’s makes a fantastic Chocolate Orange plant-based bar, and Morrisons makes a vegan caramel bar, which would give Galaxy a run for its money.

It was hardest, though, last weekend when, a few pints in, my friends ordered pizza for our table, and I found my tipsy hand reaching in for a slice. “Stop!” I had to remind myself, “You’re vegan!” (Pesky pints really are the vegan’s Achilles heel, Ed.)

That’s the great thing with mentally terming oneself a vegan, even if just for a month. It creates the mindset that certain foods are out of bounds, that they’re forbidden, that there is no way you are allowed to eat them. 

This I contrast with the ‘attempting to reduce personal consumption’ method, which, though very noble, I have seen (in myself and many others) allow for all kinds of lapses in self-control: the “oh, I’m craving so bad, so I’ll have the beef burger this once and then try and reduce next week…” kind of attitude.

All in all, it really hasn’t been that hard. I haven’t missed cheese or chocolate nearly as much as I thought I would. I don’t ‘feel’ better or worse physically; just the same. I haven’t shrunk into a muscleless pulp (partly because I admittedly was never that muscular to begin with). 

As a result, I think I’m going to continue veganism beyond ‘Veganuary’ and see how long I last. And if I do succumb and eat a slice of pizza in the drunken early-morning hours, who cares? The important thing is we reduce our consumption, which has reached astronomical and unsustainable levels.

So, at the risk of sounding too preachy, here are some tips and suggestions for those considering a turn to veganism:

  • Focus on what you CAN eat, not what you CAN’T.
  • In supermarkets, go straight to the plant-based section. It’ll shock you how much there is!
  • You need protein, so stock up on plenty of tofu, soya chunks, lentils, beans, etc.
  • Oat milk is delicious. Soya yoghurt is too.
  • Adopt cuisines that include many plant-based dishes and do not rely on meat or dairy so heavily: Indian, Middle Eastern, etc.
  • Surround yourself when you can with fellow vegans, or at least, vegetarians.
  • Vegan chocolate is great; vegan cheese not so much.
  • Supplements! B12 and Omega 3 (from algae, not fish, obviously).
  • Constantly remind yourself why you’re doing this.

Krish’s top Veganuary recipe