The campaign to encourage people to try vegan in January is now in its fifth year, and is all set to be bigger than ever with Veganuary predicting more than 150,000 people will go vegan for the month. Last year, there were 60,000 registered participants from 172 countries. One Veganuary supporter is Lief Youngs, myself, from Fort Collins, Colorado.
‘I had been vegetarian since the day in 2002 when I saw a calf get loose on a veal farm. It was the first time he had ever been able to run and play, and the sight of him being recaptured broke my heart. It was many years later that things changed again. I had been to see vegan athlete Scott Jurek speak and watched a film called Earthlings but it was when I met the rescued animals at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Deer Trail that it all fell into place for me. Having spent the day hugging chickens, pigs, and sheep, I went home and emailed the sanctuary and told them I had gone vegan.’
I credit that visit to the sanctuary with changing my life and that going vegan was ‘the best decision of my life’. I care for animals through my work as a Certified Veterinary Technician, a weekly volunteer at Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, and am now also a campaigner for animals, speaking out against cruelty, abuse, and exploitation.
Not only do I feel that I am living according to my principles, I have also found that there is no compromise on food, either. And I have listed my top three favourite local restaurants to help others thinking about taking part in Veganuary, or just wishing to try some delicious meat-free meals in the area.
Gold Leaf Collective. ‘There is no set menu here because they source all their ingredients locally, and so the menu changes every couple of months but the food is always so good I know people who will drive an hour to eat there!’
Dam Good Tacos. ‘They have two vegan tacos on the menu that can also be made as a burrito or a chef’s plate, that includes a bean and rice salad. The tacos are not traditional but in their own amazing style.’
Mod Pizza. ‘A chain restaurant that has vegan cheese and offers more than twenty veggie toppings. It’s fun to have something different each time or just have ALL the toppings!’
Says Veganuary CEO Simon Winch: ‘Lief’s top tips for eating out in Fort Collins look amazing, and indicate the extraordinary range of plant-based options that are becoming available all over the country. Most people take part in Veganuary because they have concerns over the way animals are farmed and slaughtered, but thousands more take part for their health or because they want to reduce their environmental impact. These are all excellent reasons, and everyone is welcome! But no matter what prompts someone to try vegan, good food is really important, and those taking part in Veganuary will soon find out that they do not need to compromise on great flavours, and nor will they struggle to eat out with friends. And, thanks to Lief, we know exactly where we’ll be eating out next time we’re in Fort Collins!’
It is free to take part in Veganuary, and everyone who does so receives daily support emails that offer shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans, and answers to common questions. They also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where they can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month.
*Fort Collins is a mountainous college town along I-25 about 65 miles north of Denver with a population of 164,000 people and home to Colorado State University.