So many people see health improvements after taking part in Veganuary, with some of the most common reports being improved digestion, better skin, sounder sleep and more energy.
These are all welcome changes that can make a huge difference to our quality of life. But for some people, the changes feel miraculous. Here, three former Veganuary participants describe just how much becoming vegan has changed their lives.
Christina Mather-Bateman, Merseyside
Animal-lover Christina took part in Veganuary 2017. “I was under the illusion that because cows didn’t die for milk, or chickens for eggs, that they were fine for us to eat,” she says. “I lived in a bubble.” But that winter her friend told her what really happens on egg and dairy farms, and Christina knew she had to find out more. Just watching the trailer for Earthlings devastated her but she would not look away. “I vowed to educate myself about the true horrors of animal agriculture,” she said, and she signed up to take part in Veganuary.
It certainly brought Christina a clearer conscience but there was also an incredible change in her health. For the 15 years before going vegan, Christina had struggled with terrible allergies. She had undergone numerous tests, including for eggs and dairy, which had all come back negative. She was given antihistamines and carried an Epi-pen but even so, some days her hives would be so bad that her face would swell up and she wasn’t able to sleep.
Incredibly, within one week of eating vegan, she felt so good that she was able to reduce her medication. Within two weeks, the itching rash that had tormented her for years was completely gone, and by the end of Veganuary, Christina was able to phase out the medication altogether. “I had just one more flare-up very early on,” she remembers, “and since then nothing at all.”
Unsurprisingly, Christina has stayed vegan ever since.
“I will never go back to eating milk, cheese, eggs or any animal products. I only wish I had made the leap sooner.”
Emma was a big meat eater and a diabetic when she decided to take part in Veganuary 2020. Her aim was modest: she simply wanted to increase the amount of vegetables in her diet but nonetheless she felt daunted by the challenge. Emma could not have known then just what this would mean to her.
After signing up, Emma did her homework. “I watched Forks Over Knives and The Game Changers on Netflix, and realised this could have a massive impact on my health,” she said.
“Upon reading more about vegan living and a plant-based diet I found that as a scientist I couldn’t argue with the potential impact on my health and the environment, two massive motivators for me.”
Suddenly, she felt more optimistic about the outcome. “As a diabetic it’s really important I keep good control of my blood sugar and also try to limit the effects of this illness, such as increased risk of heart and vascular disease. Controlling my cholesterol is the best thing I can do, along with trying to control my weight.”
So, was she right to be so hopeful? We think so! “I had my cholesterol tested at the end of 2019, before I started Veganuary,” Emma told us, “and then again about four months later. I was amazed to see my reading come down a whole point, and my diabetic specialist team was delighted to see such a change in a short space of time.”
One point may not sound much but Emma knows just how important that single digit is. Unsurprisingly, Emma has decided to stay vegan.
“Changing to this way of life may have helped me live longer and healthier.”
Maria had struggled with her weight for a long time and had tried every diet under the sun. “It was a vicious circle,” she told us. “The more I got disheartened, the more I craved junk.” She admits that her diet before Veganuary was “awful”.
At the same time Maria was supporting her husband, Dez, who suffered from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Realising that her mental health had begun to suffer, she realised that something had to give. She looked to her diet. “I had always toyed with the idea of going vegan, but I thought it was too hardcore,” she says. Plus, Dez was “the biggest carnivore ever” and that presented another hurdle to overcome.
Nonetheless, Maria decided to give Veganuary a go. After all, it was just for one month and she wouldn’t have to stick with it after that time. She began to research and to collect recipes, and by January 1st she was ready. Dez teased that she would last no more than one week, but then on New Year’s Day, he turned to her after they had watched The Game Changers together and told her he would be taking part, too.
Did they last the whole month? They did! And did they feel any better? “Oh, my goodness, it’s changed our lives,” says Maria. “My diet now is a rainbow of colours which I love. I found I didn’t crave junk or sugar at all, and that resulted in myself and my husband losing weight.” A lot of weight!
In fact, Maria lost 15 lbs in January alone, 50 lbs in all, and Dez lost 32 lbs. There were some other wonderful and welcome benefits, too. “I felt better inside and out,” says Maria.
“I was less bloated, I slept better, my skin was better, I had fewer aches and pains that I had put down to getting older. I just felt alive again.”
What about Dez, Maria’s chronically ill, carnivore husband? “He hasn’t been ill once,” she tells us. “His stats are all stable and he hasn’t needed antibiotics at all. We don’t know if this is due to being vegan, but this is the only thing that has changed and that speaks volumes.”
Neither Maria nor Dez plan to go back. “It’s an amazing lifestyle and we love it and don’t plan to change anytime soon. It was the best decision I ever made. I am a totally different person to who I was last year so thank you. And to think I was only doing it for January!”
Want to see some benefits for yourself? Sign up to try vegan for a month!