In January 2021, Climate Action Lewisham celebrated Veganuary!

Eating less meat and dairy can substantially reduce a person’s carbon footprint, and we wanted to encourage people to try out a plant-based diet, and hopefully realise that it’s not that hard.  On the contrary, it can be delicious, healthy and guilt-free!

A whole month of veganism can be daunting though.  So we invited people to participate in the 7-Day Vegan Challenge.  (You can read about my family’s attempt here.)  We set up a WhatsApp group to provide moral support, share recipes, and collect tips.  We’ve collated some of the best bits from the challenge below.  You can also read about CAL member Emma Reade’s fantastic article on her journey to veganism in SE23 magazine.

We organised live cooking demos via Zoom, with 6 chefs on 6 Sundays.  We give our thanks to all the cooks who participated – for giving their time and energy, for providing detailed recipes and instructions, and for their professionalism.  And if you missed the demos, great news!  Detailed instructions for each recipe are below.  We also recorded them – send us a message info{at} if you’re interested in watching.

The 7-Day Vegan Challenge

24 households joined our WhatsApp group for the challenge – a fair mixture of omnivores, vegetarians, pescatarians and a few vegans to provide advice.  Here are a few pictures of just some of the vegan makes and bakes!

Participants really enjoyed sharing new recipes.

“I’ve tried some new things this week and have a list of stuff for the next couple of weeks too!”  [Margarete]

Some of the recipes we tried:

Vegan Banana Bread

Chickpea of the Sea Tuna Salad Sandwich

Nut Roast

Lentil & Cauliflower Curry

Peanut butter and Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

Carrot falafel

Three cup tofu


Some favourite recipe books:

Five Ingredient Vegan

Leon Fast Vegan

India’s Vegetarian Cooking

Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet


We had discussions on topics such as: the best vegan cheeses, fussy kids, how to make kimchi, best supermarkets, and changes –

 “I usually feel pretty blue and low in energy in January, but I’ve been feeling good this year.” [Emma]

And we also experienced great camaraderie.

 “I’ve enjoyed the spirit of community and encouragement to try new foods.”  [Jan]

We did a rough calculation on this BBC website calculator and we estimate that each household saved an average of 25kg of carbon dioxide (equivalent) just from eating vegan for one week!  Many of our participants went on to complete the whole of Veganuary.

It was an extremely positive experience and participants were eager to introduce a greater proportion of plant-based meals into their diet.

 “This month has definitely shown me how it’s not that difficult to be vegan and has opened my eyes up a lot more to becoming much more plant-based and possibly fully vegan in the near future.  I’ve found I’ve got more energy and been happier… and found it really, really helpful and motivating being part of this group.” [Harley]


Vegan Cooking Demos

We held six vegan cooking demos attracting an average of 27 participants, some dialing in from as far away as America!  The meals ranged from European to Japanese, Mexican to Indian and it was brilliant to watch (and cook with) the chefs, listen to their tips and hear their stories.

For those who missed the demos, you can find full recipes below. If you’d like to watch the videos, you can contact us at info{at}

Jude from Climate Action Lewisham made a stir fry, a butter bean dip, and a spicy butternut squash soup.

Sonia Heaton from The Green Plate showed us how to make Japanese gyoza.

AJ Tear – Food By AJ cooked up enchiladas.

Bonita de Silva from Cafe van Gogh made sweet potato and black bean chili.

Rickard Daun – Daun’s Deli finished our series with tofish, mash and vegan mayo.

The cook-a-longs received a fantastic response. Most attendees were meat/fish eaters but thought they would try out a more plant-based diet in the future.

Here’s what some of the participants thought:

“Each of the chefs opened up a completely new plant based food recipe experience for me and my family. Cooking along together really helped me see how vegan food can be really tasty and inspired us kids included to move towards being vegan. We also watched two films together Cowspiracy and My Octopus teacher that helped us clarify how we can’t be environmentalists, care about our environment, and eat meat or dairy products. We didn’t see it that way quite so starkly before and really want to thank you all so much for providing this stepping stone to action for us.”

“I thought they were wonderful. Very interesting to watch and listen to knowledgeable and skilled cooks while they worked and to cook along, with delicious results. I am keeping the recipes to re-use but more importantly to me it demonstrated with a bit more time and care you could make a really delicious vegan meal.”

“Yes I loved the recipes and thought it was a great idea to bring people together. I don’t want to be totally vegan but feel if we could commit to eating less meat we could return to more ethical farming.”


Veganuary has been a brilliant month for us here.  It’s opened our eyes to the importance of eating habits for the environment and for our health, but also shown us how delicious and varied vegan food can be.  We’re not advocating everyone go plant-based – indeed sometimes it isn’t the most environmentally friendly option.  A recent BBC programme Feast to Save the Planet made the point that sometimes local and seasonal is better for the environment rather than vegan options which could be flown in from faraway places.

Veganuary has made us think more about where our food comes from, how it’s produced, and what impact it has on the world.  This is an area where we can take control over what we choose to put in our mouths AND make a difference to our carbon footprint.

We can’t wait until Veganuary 2022!


If you would like to learn more about veganism, check out Lewisham Vegans on Facebook.