Calderdale Vegan Approach 2013
The first Calderdale Vegan Approach saw 66 people going vegan for a month from Saturday 14 September to Saturday 19 October 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. Twenty-two participants are planning to stay vegan and feedback has shown that The Vegan Approach was the catalyst for making this change.
“It's really helped me to change my eating behaviour for the better.”
“The combination of tasting and handling the yummy food, and finding out in repeated leaflets about the unavoidable truths of dairy production, plus seeing and tasting how easy it was to make delicious cakes which are vegan, made it actually easy for me to make the decision. I went vegan at the event, and have remained so since.”
“…I was more than impressed by the whole delivery of the CVA, and I'm pleased to report that I intend to continue on a vegan diet and lifestyle. I can't tell you what a change this has been for me, given that my original goal was just to eat more vegan dishes in my (previously) omnivore diet!”
One particularly pleasing outcome of the event was the participation of Incredible Edible Todmorden. Ten members of the group, who promote community growing and food sustainability within the town, registered as participants. Of these, six will remain vegan and two aspire to veganism. One of these is the town’s Mayor, who gave the project her full support throughout. She has 5 months yet in office, so, with her help, many more things may be possible! An earlier Mayor (2010-2011) did not register, but was so inspired by the VA that she has moved on from being a lapsed vegan to a fully committed one!
We invited all participants to a two part vegan information course at the start and end of the vegan month at Central Methodist Church in Todmorden. This included an information pack, a goody bag, stalls, films and cookery demos and expert speakers.
Day 1 was officially opened by the Mayor who gave a welcome talk and encouraged participants by saying how exciting she found the prospect of the vegan challenge! This was followed by two Vegan Society films - 'Making the Connection and 'Making History', a nutrition talk, presented by Elizabeth King and based on Stephen Walsh’s guidelines, buddy group introduction and discussion, savoury cookery demonstrations, non-dairy milk tasting, and Vegan FAQ : panel answers.
Day 2 began with a Buddy group meeting. Participants were encouraged to review the 5 weeks of veganism and share their experiences with others. This was followed by a talk on the effects on the environment of animal farming by Kath Clements author of ‘Why Vegan’, the Animal Aid film 'Where does my milk come from?' chocolate tasting, sweet cookery demos and ‘Vegan Survival’ ; 5 members of the planning team each gave a short presentation on the various aspects of a vegan lifestyle and a short discussion followed.
Both meetings included stalls selling vegan products and recipe booklets and a stall with packaging showing samples of vegan food, household and toiletry products available. 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 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.
“The display of packaging, the range of food examples to try, and the array of delicious dishes available for lunch was really great. For me, this was a hands-on experience of what it would be like to be eating vegan, and it was wonderfully encouraging because it wasn't very different to being non-vegan!”
Another important aspect of The Vegan Approach is introducing participants to the local vegan community through the buddy scheme and by organizing social events. 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.
“I found it really comforting to be allocated an experienced vegan buddy and gained a lot from our small group discussions. It was great to be able to voice any concerns, no matter how silly they might have sounded! The idea of being with a group of like-minded newbies felt very supportive and encouraging.”
Various social events were arranged throughout the month, including a local animal sanctuary visit and an evening with 35 people meeting to eat at a vegan restaurant. We also arranged meets at vegetarian cafes in the area. One recently opened vegetarian café in the town offered to put a special set vegan meal one evening a week during the vegan month. They have now extended their range of vegan choices.
Many participants commented that being vegan was easier than they anticipated.
“I'm not finding it restrictive at all, in fact am enjoying a wider variety of meals than before.”
‘’.. being vegan was easier than I expected and it also strengthened my views on animal welfare and dairy farming.’’
Some also reported improvements in health including the Mayor who ran a marathon during the month.
“I feel fitter and healthier, I ran a marathon very well, despite not really training enough for it .”
The Calderdale Vegan Approach was much more far reaching than the effect it had on the participants alone. Many of them now cook vegan meals for families and friends and promote veganism within their workplace. Several people said that the VA had given them the confidence to explain their beliefs to others and hopefully influence those around them. As mentioned above, many high profile members of the local community took part in the event bringing lots of publicity.
The organisers of this event have now set up a vegan group in the town and regular campaigns are being planned for the next year. The first event has already been held in the town centre where an information / food sampling stall was held as part of Todmorden’s Christmas Fayre.
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.
If you would like to organise a Vegan Approach event in your area please contact us.
Amys Kitchen, Booja, Booja, Bute Island, Edge Lane Bread, Fry's Vegetarian, Ginger Vegetarian Café, Good Hemp, Greens vegetarian café, Happy Kitchen, Koko Dairy Free, Meridian, Moo Free, Plamil, Spirals, Suma, The Bakehouse, The Bear, Vegan Tuck Box, VIVA!, Weleda, Wheaty.