If you missed the chance to take part in the 2013 London Vegan Pledge, why not consider taking an online pledge – there are lots of great programmes to choose from, many of which are available free of charge all year round. Check out our list of these here. And if you're outside London, keep an eye out for workshops run our friends at The Vegan Approach who hold events similar to the Vegan Pledge all over the country.
Vegan Pledge 2013
The London Vegan Pledge 2013 helped another cohort of aspiring vegans to take the plunge by going vegan for a month with dedicated advice and support.
This year saw 80 people going vegan for a month from Sunday 12 May to Sunday 9 June 2013. The programme is designed to help people try veganism, providing them with all the practical and moral support they need to stay vegan in the long term.
The feedback shows that the Pledge was a great success: about 70% of the participants who completed the end-of-Pledge questionnaire said they will stay vegan, and the rest are transitioning to a vegan diet or cutting down on animal products.
"I feel fabulous - such a good lifechanging experience."
"I know too much now about what it means not to be vegan to go back!"
'Intro to veganism' course
Participants were invited to a two-day 'introduction to veganism' course in central London, taking place at the start and end of the Pledge month. This included talks, stalls, literature, cookery demos, health questionnaires and feedback from a vegan GP, goody bags and a full vegan buffet.
The first day opened with a welcome and introduction, followed by three workshops done in smaller groups before lunch. These were: a screening of the Vegan Society's film, Making the Connection, a buddy-group discussion session, and a savoury cookery demo with Nishma Shah of Shambhu's who showed Pledgers how to make simple and delicious chilli tofu and vegan sushi.
The afternoon focused on health and nutrition, with a talks by nutritionist Juliet Gellatley and vegan GP Dr Michael Hooper, followed by a Q&A session covering many useful questions and tips about thriving on a plant-based diet.
Pledge workshops and talks
Part two took place on 9 June. The morning workshops consisted of a nutrition quiz with Stephen Walsh, PhD, buddy-group discussions, and a cake-making cookery demo with The Vegan Tart.
Then in the afternoon there were whole-group sessions giving feedback on how going vegan for the month had made a difference to animals, the environment and Pledgers' health. The animals talk was given by Dean Bracher of Animal Equality, the environment talk was given by Catherine Laurence of Vegan Campaigns (also an environmental planner) and the health feedback was a longer session with Dr Hooper, including the chance for more Q&A.
There was excellent feedback on each aspect of the course. Just a few examples from the two days:
"Amazing! Lovely people, very friendly. Great information"
"The film should be shown everywhere!"
Nutrition talk with Juliet Gellatley: "very useful"
Health results with Dr Mike Hooper: "He is great!"
Cookery demo with The Vegan Tart: "Wow!"
Every participant was allocated a vegan buddy or buddy pair at the start of the Pledge to guide them through the programme. The vegan buddies are experienced vegans who facilitate group discussions on both days of the course and provide support and advice during the month.
Buddy group discussions
They provide weekly emails to their Pledgers, are on hand to answer questions by email and through a dedicated Facebook support group, and many attend the Pledge events during the month, sharing their best tips and knowledge as they go. A number of buddies also contributed articles to the Pledge Blog on a whole range of topics from restaurant reviews and dealing with friends and family, to vegan cheese, household products and cosmetics.
Pledge Blog topic tags
Feedback always shows how much participants feel they benefit from the buddy scheme. Here are just a few of the many positive comments received this year:
"Excellent links via email – informative, inspiring and supportive. Really great motivation!"
"The emails they sent were very interesting and the group discussions at the pledge meetings were great moral support."
"Advice and information, very good emotional support too, was excellent both of them, thank you so much, you really helped."
Blog: "Inspirational and informative, good to read about others' experiences"
At both meetings, participants had the chance to enjoy a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day. Snacks included raw and traditional cakes, cookies, chocolate samples and fruit. At the lunch buffet there were options to suit every taste and mood: home-made dishes such as Ethiopian stew, pizza and spinach lasagne, ready made products such as sausage rolls, "cheese" and "chicken" nuggets, salads, cakes and raw desserts.
The food served at the meetings demonstrated how tasty, healthy and varied vegan cuisine is, and participants received a recipe booklet containing many of the recipes for them to make at home. Feedback about the food included comments such as:
"Amazing, so generous, thank you … varied, tasty and plenty of it."
"Delicious! Very eye-opening."
"Excellent, tasty, appreciated."
Refreshments and lunch buffet
Other aspects of the programme
During the month, participants were invited to a programme of events including Pledge meetup meals at vegan restaurants in London, a trip to Huglett's Wood Sanctuary for Farmed Animals, and invitations to attend other vegan events taking place in London, including the famous monthly Vegan Drinks.
We also offered confidential health questionnaires at the start and end of the Pledge, with anonymised results analysis and feedback by a vegan GP.
Vegan Campaigns congratulate everyone who participated, and are extremely grateful to all the fantastic volunteers and supporters who made the London Vegan Pledge possible. We are a 100% voluntary organisation so we could not have done it without them. The full list of organisations and companies who offered funding, sponsorship, time and donations are listed below, with our heartfelt thanks.
The London Vegan Pledge 2013 was funded by:
with sponsorship from:
and additional support from: