Sheffield Vegan Approach 2013
The first Sheffield Vegan Approach saw thirty four people going vegan for a month from Saturday 23 March to Saturday 20 April 2013. Our aim was to encourage vegetarians and meat eaters to try the vegan diet for one month, in the hope that they will continue being vegan or eat more vegan food once the month is over. We achieved this by presenting the case for veganism and giving practical support to help make the change. At least seventeen participants are planning to stay vegan and feedback has shown that The Vegan Approach was the catalyst for making this change.
“If it wasn’t for this, I would not have gained the confidence and impetus to go vegan after 44 years of eating meat” Krystyna Haywood
“I found the Vegan Approach event very helpful indeed, providing the nudge that I needed to become vegan. I have stayed vegan since, and plan to remain so.” Phil Bluckert
We invited all participants to a two part vegan information course at the start and end of the vegan month at Sharrow Community Forum, South View Rd, Sheffield, S7 1DA. This included an information pack, a goody bag, stalls, films and cookery demos and expert speakers. At meeting one, we showed the Vegan Society film ‘Making the Connection’ which puts forward the case for veganism. For Guin Chan, this provided the motivation to change her diet:
“I was not really convinced or motivated to be a vegan. I was more like curious and I did want to know more about nutrition. Then we saw the video and clips, I learnt about what exactly happened with dairy industry and honey production. I remember someone mentioned the mother cow cry so bad over night after her baby was taken away, it just broke my heart. Then I started to be convinced, turning vegan maybe is the right thing to do. But till that point, I still think being a vegan is hard for me (because of cheese, cakes and basically most of the products in supermarkets contains eggs and diary).”
The environmental issues were covered in further depth at meeting two. Kath Clements author of “Why Vegan” gave a presentation on the harmful effects of animal farming on the planet.
We also gave a presentation on the numbers of animals saved by following a vegan diet, and introduced people to the concept of following a vegan lifestyle to avoiding all forms of animal exploitation. We followed this with the Vegan Society’s short animation ‘Making History’.
Nutritional information was provided to ensure the vegan diet adopted by participants is healthy and sustainable, and several participants commented that their health had improved after just one month of following a vegan diet. Colleen St John said she had lost a stone in weight and...
“.. I have noticed a huge difference in my mood and my temper and feel healthy and content, not sluggish and tired all the time.
The benefits are endless.”
To help participants make the transition to veganism we gave practical help such as recipes, and tips on reading labels and eating out. We had a savoury cookery demo at the first meeting and on day two Donna Thomas who competed in ‘Come Dine with me’ shared her baking tips and demonstrated how easy it is to make a yummy chocolate pudding. Both meetings included stalls selling vegan products and recipe booklets, non-dairy milk and chocolate tasting and a ‘Can’t believe it’s vegan’ stall show casing unusual vegan products found in supermarkets.
A delicious vegan buffet was provided at lunchtime including the food made in the cookery demos and dishes to suit every taste; home- made dishes such as Ethiopian Stew, pizza and shepherd’s pie, ready made products such as sausage rolls, ‘cheese’ and ‘chicken’ nuggets, salads and cakes and raw desserts. At the second meeting we also had a vegan pot luck inviting participants to bring dessert to share. The food served at the meetings demonstrated how tasty, healthy and varied the vegan cuisine is and we provided recipes for people to make this food at home.
“Also the recipes alongside tasters were a good idea – the butterbean casserole is my new favourite dish.” Phil Bluckert
Another important aspect of The Vegan Approach is introducing participants to the local vegan community through the buddy scheme and by organizing social events. Feedback from participants and buddies demonstrates that this is one of the most important aspects of The Vegan Approach.
Paddy Moran had tried being vegan before but felt very isolated. He wrote:
“At the Approach I was surprised how many vegans there were in Sheffield as I thought the group would be very small. The volunteers were really helpful and the food was delicious. I don't think I would have made the transition back to a vegan diet without the Approach because it is such a minority sport at the moment (although it seems to be growing in popularity) being a vegan can make you feel like an outsider - meeting other vegans and sharing our experiences information and recipes has made me feel more confident and less defensive about being vegan.”
Buddies introduced themselves by email before the meeting, and facilitated a group discussion at both meetings.During the month they were on hand to offer support by email and met up with their groups at vegan socials, restaurants, their homes or shopping trips.
“Sally was very encouraging with a warm approach. I had a non-judgemental approach when I ‘slipped up’ on a few occasions. In all a great buddy!”
Our programme included events throughout the month such as a minibus trip to the Northern Vegan festival. On-going support was provided through weekly emails, our Facebook group and the vegan buddies.
“The Vegan Approach helped me a lot on the process of becoming vegan. There were so much information, recipes, Facebook group, buddy emails, vegan products and so on. Just a lot of support.” Guin Chan
This event has helped to build the local vegan community and inspired others to become active. Guin Chan has been inspired by The Vegan Approach to set up a vegetarian/vegan group at her university.
“I would not have made this transition without The Vegan Approach, I couldn’t if I didn’t come to the Vegan Approach. I probably would not have even thought of being a vegan. And the transition process was not easy, without all the support I don’t know I could do it so easily. (Especially Sally went to supermarkets with me to show me vegan products, and the cheese and nut spread section was just amazing!)”
We received very positive feedback about our event, with the majority of those who completed the evaluation form rating the event overall as “excellent”. Thank you to our sponsors and for the companies who donated products, to our volunteers and all those who took part. Click here to read a more detailed report of this event.
If you would like to organise a Vegan Approach event in your area please contact us.