As part of our community work around making our town greener, we got feedback from members of The Rainham Eco Hub that they would like information on eating less meat. With Veganuary around the corner, we thought this would be a great chance to sign up to the challenge and then document our month (15 of us altogether!). I had previously tried this challenge about 3 times and failed miserably, so I was keen to see if it was easier with a whole group of people watching after publicly making my pledge.
I learnt quickly that planning was key, and planning is not so much of a strong point for me!
For example, running late for work two days into the challenge, I grabbed some items from the vegan section. I was munching through these delicious ‘vegan’ sausages later that day when I realised, on closer inspection of the packaging, that they were in fact chicken sausages! Apart from this initial hiccup I learnt to double check the packaging every time since then.
Taking on the ‘Veganuary’ challenge has taught me many things. My far from adventurous palette enjoyed tasting new and different foods, Jackfruit now being one of my faves. There are a lot of things that take place in the meat and dairy industry that I had no idea about. Learning more about our food industry has actually made me go back to God and say ‘hey, was this your intention for us to eat meat? Did you imagine that it would end up with the industries that we have now?’
Having finished the challenge, I wouldn’t have been able to complete it without the support and help of the volunteers and members of Rainham Eco Hub and Invicta Vegans. The ‘accidentally vegan’ website is also very helpful and includes a list of all food and cleaning/beauty products that are vegan just by accident (So you might already find that you are eating vegan foods or using vegan items without even realising it – who knew some Pringle flavours are vegan, for example)?
If anyone is wondering how they can engage others even in discussions about being or trying vegan, I would suggest that you open the table up and give a platform to have these discussions by doing some reading and researching (even cooking and tasting) together! Being honest with your findings and experience is important too. I’ve completed the challenge and have definitely made changes that I will keep, using oat milk for example or more beans, grains etc in my meals rather than meat. But also I’m the type of girl that, after a night out, I’m not going to turn down a Big Mac or doner kebab on the way home – and I am ok with that. We don’t need a few people doing everything perfectly, as they say: we need lots of people doing them imperfectly. I’d love to hear other people’s experiences of trying or being vegan (or vegetarian), and how we can buy items and eat foods that are less destructive and more caring towards God’s beautiful creatures!
This ‘Meet the Community’ article was written by Kayleigh Ward for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and loving our global.’ Kayleigh is a member of St Margaret’s Church in Rainham, Kent. She is on the steering group for their Eco Church and co-leads their church’s community group The Rainham Eco Hub, where they are working with businesses, schools, residents, councils and organisations to make their town greener and more sustainable through a co-ordinated, joint approach.