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Happy World Vegan Month! Right now, all over the world, people are “pledging” to go vegan for a week or a month. To most people that may not sound like a happy month at all, but it’s well worth considering.

Whether you’re a vegan or not, there are endless reasons why we should all be delighted that the movement has grown so fast in the last few years. You don’t have to be vegan to feel its affects. Through adapting their diets to make sure they get all the vitamins they need, to pressuring big corporations and governments for more ethical products, vegans are giving food the focus it deserves.

They are also doing their bit to reduce food miles and emissions, all the while campaigning for the rest of us to do the same. A study over the summer by the University of Oxford found that a meat-based diet produces on average more than double the emissions of a vegan one.

They’re teaching us a thing or two as well. My vegan and vegetarian friends have cooked me some fantastic meals, many of which I now make regularly. It’s saving me money, encouraging me to eat more vegetables, and reducing my meat intake. While I have no plans to give up meat, I recognise that it shouldn’t be the focus of my diet. I am now vegetarian every other day – not consciously, but because lots of my favourite meals are meat-free. I have also learnt lots of new techniques as I work around the limits of reducing dairy and meat products. I make cakes without eggs, burgers without beef, and pastry without butter. I try to drink vegan beer (thankfully almost all beer is vegan anyway) and refuse to buy any animal product that doesn’t have a guarantee of quality such as Freedom Food, free range or organic status.

Veganism has helped JamieOliver.com produce some amazing content too. Our writers have made healthier no-bake vegan fudge bars, invented the meat-less sloppy Joe and attended the world’s only mainstream vegetarian music festival in Sweden. On top of that, Jamie’s come up with some incredible recipes for those on a vegan diet, why not start with these super-easy vegan recipes:

Full of gorgeous wintery produce, this looks so beautiful that any meat eaters at the table won’t be able to keep their forks off it.

 

Kebabs are back on the menu – sizzling hot vegan kofte, served with a delicious cashew and peanut sauce and a refreshing minty yoghurt dip

 

I bet all vegans have had a truly terrible bean burger at some point – limp, stodgy and under-seasoned. Well this burger is your saviour. It’s all in the spices and zingy lime.

 

Soft steamed buns stuffed with sticky Asian-style mushrooms and hoisin sauce – food doesn’t get much moreish than that.

 

We are living in the future. Delicious mac ‘n’ cheese with no cheese in it? A few simple tricks and it’s no longer a fantasy.

 

Sometimes reworking a recipe for a particular diet can lead to something even better than the original. This is, hands down, the best shepherd’s pie ever – and totally meat free.

 

The joy of this recipe is that no one will really care those meat – not even the kids. It’s a great family recipe and full of good stuff.

 

So, whatever your diet, celebrate vegan month, consider what you eat and whether it’s good for you and for the environment. Remember that what we sit down to at each meal affects a lot more than how hungry we are; small changes like meat-free Mondays or going vegetarian or vegan one month of the year can make a huge difference, and may even change your life.