“You call it January; I call in Veganuary,” sang LJ as he finished hanging the vegan flag by the front door just as Annie approached their home, finishing her morning walk.

She smiled when she saw the flag, “That looks, great sweetheart. Do you mind explaining the flag’s symbolism?”

“Sure, according to the Vegan Flag website,

The colors chosen, white, green, and blue, represent animals’ living spaces. The letter V is an inverted pyramid that symbolizes the ability to do the impossible.”

“I know going vegan is one of the best ways to reduce our individual environmental footprint. So, by flying this flag, we let everyone know we are vegan, which means what exactly? And what does Vegunuary stand for?”

LJ thoughtfully nodded, “yes, we are declaring our vegan status, and that means we don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, plus the gelatin (from animal bones) or whey (from milk). However, what we do eat is nutrient-dense, plant-based versions of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Some organizations help people move to a vegan lifestyle like Veganuary, which encourages people to try vegan in January and hopefully beyond. Their website has many easy and delicious tools for getting started. The first step is:

Planning: before the first vegan day, start easy; for example, buy non-dairy milk for your coffee or tea and dairy-free butter such as Miyoko’s Creamery products for toast. A weekly meal planner is helpful too.

Note the Vegan Foods you already have in your pantry: you are already eating vegan with such foods as pasta, beans, bread, canned veggies, soups, crackers, and plant-based butter.

Veganize your favorite dishes: try vegan bacon and sausage for breakfast and use plant-made hamburgers like Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger for lunch or dinner. And of course, there are many tasty vegan recipes in Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan cookbooks.

Persistence Pays off:  often, we have lofty expectations regarding taste and want vegan food to taste precisely like animal products, but be gentle with yourself, and if one vegan cream cheese isn’t to your liking, try another, there are so many different ones. Like plant-based milk, everyone doesn’t like almond milk; perhaps creamier oat milk is more for you. The key is to try other vegan products until you have a refrigerator and pantry filled with the vegan foods you like

Eating Out: Vegan restaurants are increasing all over the world. Download HappyCow or abillion apps to guide you to your nearest restaurant, café, or shop.

Find Your Tribe: there are millions of vegans by family tradition, such as the Rastafarians of Jamaica, the Orthodox Christians of Ethiopia and Eritrea, India, who have the lowest meat consumption globally with its 400 million vegans, and Israel, where 5.2% of the population is vegan. If you don’t belong to any of these groups, there are thousands of vegan organizations online and, no doubt, many that will appeal to you and support your new lifestyle.

Be Kind to yourself: Remember earth wasn’t built in a day and changing a life-long habit is unlikely to change in a day. If you slip off the road to vegan land, recognize you are human and get back on track. Beating up on yourself is de-motivating, so don’t do it.”

“I like what we are doing,” said Annie thoughtfully. We are in a global crisis that threatens our entire planet and every living thing on it. If everyone ate a plant-based diet, there would be no more animal suffering, and natural habitats would be protected and even restored. This is a timely and excellent thing to do.”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple, and their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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