Veganuary: A Film Producer’s Journey

My name is Judith and I am the Head of Productions at Envelope Films, a Manchester based video production company. We do all kinds of things from shooting zombie films, to making cinema adverts. We first met Clea at Veganuary when she contacted us about making a short film to promote Veganuary and to encourage people to sign up ready for January 1st!

We travelled to meet Jane and Clea up in York who told us all about Veganuary and what they hoped to achieve. I was very interested in learning what it is like to be vegan, the types of food you eat etc. as I had little idea at this point other than veggies and no dairy?! Clea and Jane talked to us about what it is to be vegan which I found very interesting and was keen to find out more…

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Judith in her natural environment

I was very much a meat eater at this point. I’m half Chinese so I was the type of person who would eat the meat off the bones, was never bothered about gristle or anything like that, and I loved dumplings!

Because we were so making the promotional film with Veganuary, we were spending a lot of time researching the topic and we were already excited to try vegan in January to help support the campaign.

Then came the biggest shock to me.

I sat and watched Cowspiracy on Netflix and that really took the wind out of my sail. It’s a fantastic documentary that highlights some pretty hard-hitting facts about what state the planet is in. How is it that I had no idea about this? It pretty much made sense to go vegan at this point, as something that I personally could do to help save the world.

My vegan journey is still very much ongoing. The Veganuary website has been awesome as a place to find cool recipes, nutritional info and, best of all, accidentally vegan foods (regular Oreos, Golden Oreos, Starbursts and Hob Nobs for when you’re feeling naughty!).

Cheese however has been the hardest thing to find a good replacement for. I am a cheese lover and this has probably been the hardest thing to give up. Vegan cheese can be pretty expensive too. I have tried to change the way I think about cheese and, instead of having cheese and biscuits, I tend to use cheese as a cooking ingredient for pasta sauces or to make vegan pizza. This fits well with the vegan cheeses that I buy, however don’t be surprised when they don’t fully melt! I am pretty excited about making a ‘nacho cheese’ using a carrot and a potato! Clea gave me the recipe and it doesn’t sound real!!

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Homemade Vegan Pizza/Nacho Cheese

But the most challenging thing is eating out. I’m still not quite there yet, and I still feel self conscious at some restaurants to ask what the vegan options are, or what can be made vegan. I certainly slip into more vegetarian ways when eating out, or at least choosing the option which I think is probably the most vegan. For me personally, going from a full meat eater to a fully vegan at home and vegetarian when I’m out is a massive step. Hopefully this January with support from the Veganuary team I will have a bit more confidence when eating out. I have found some amazing vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the Greater Manchester area which are incredible. One of my personal favourites is a fully vegan pub in Glossop. They also have a selection of boardgames too!

Some things make me sad… Like I know there are fantastic alternatives to ice cream (Booja Booja is incredible) and yoghurt (the Alpro soya yoghurts are sooo creamy and yummy) I just think, “Why guys?” Why can’t you provide more dairy-free options for your desserts? It seems like it is easier to find good savoury vegan options when eating out, but desserts can be hard to find. Lets hope the world catches up!

I definitely don’t think I would be on this journey without having met Clea and Jane all those months ago. They made me want to find out more, and they are always positive and encouraging. I’m excited about continuing on my vegan quest and learning to cook even more delicious food! My top tip, nutritional yeast flakes in pastas, stews, gravy, curry, anything with a savoury sauce. You get an extra flavour hit and loads of B vitamins as a bonus!

Watch the Veganuary 2016 Campaign Film that Judith and Envelope Films produced: