March 2012 saw the launch of the first ever Exeter Vegan Pledge, in which the public were invited to try an animal-free diet for a month.
About 30 people of all ages and backgrounds took part in the challenge, which was organised by Exeter Friends For Animals (EFFA) and was inspired by similar initiatives around the country. Motivating factors ranged from concerns about animal suffering and environmental degradation to the desire to lose weight and improve overall health.
Pledgers attended free workshops at the beginning and end of the month, consisting of talks, films, discussions, nutritional advice from a registered dietician, cookery demonstrations, vegan cheese and chocolate samples, and a delicious vegan lunch. They were also each assigned a vegan “buddy” who they could contact with any queries or problems, and there were opportunities to meet up socially and compare notes during the month.
At the final meeting, over half of the participants said they intended to remain vegan, while another significant proportion said they would eat more vegan food in future. Comments included “It was mainly about nutrition for me, but the more I learn the more I don’t want to contribute towards animal cruelty”, and “It is a learning curve – over time I will move towards veganism, as I learn about different products and change my habits gradually”.
Most agreed that the month had proved much easier than they had expected, and that they had found EFFA’s support highly valuable.
The organisers are keen to repeat the pledge next year. In the meantime, anyone wanting advice on going vegan or recipe ideas is welcome to contact Exeter Friends For Animals at email@example.com (website www.effa-uk.org).