WITH a growing interest in plant-based diets, an increasing number of people have been trying a vegan diet this month, for ‘Veganuary’.

Whether they have tried a vegan meal at one of the many restaurants, bars and cafes in the area, or decided to ditch meat, eggs and dairy products for the month, many people are giving vegan food a go this month, while some people use it as motivation to make a permanent change to their diet.

While many people fear they will struggle to make such a big change to their diet, Tiffany Powell says she has never missed meat since she went from eating pretty much anything to turning vegan, almost five years ago.

Tiffany’s diet change came about when her mother Lorraine Beal, a hairdresser who runs her own salon, Lore in North Baddesley, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.

Lorraine had a mastectomy and lymph nodes removed and was also given chemotherapy and radiotherapy. And her doctors also suggested a dietary change: no red meat or dairy products.

“When she was diagnosed, I did a lot of research on how best to prevent the spread and return of cancer,” says Tiffany, a primary school teacher from Southampton.

“I’d found that a vegan diet looked like a really good option.

“I had been living in London when my mum was diagnosed, but by this point I’d moved back in with her in Southampton. When her doctors told her to cut out red meat and dairy, I put us both on a vegan diet immediately.”

It was a big change for Tiffany and Lorraine.

“My mum was a really big meat eater and I ate anything, even things like foie gras. But I never missed meat at all. The only thing I struggled a bit with was not having chocolate, but there are so many alternatives, that’s fine.”

Tiffany quickly saw a change in both her mother and herself.

“She had more energy once she became vegan,” she says.

“I definitely feel it had a positive impact on her recovery. It was important for her mentally, as she had felt that her life was really out of her control. By becoming vegan, she was able to regain some control - she could decide what she was putting in her body.

“Her doctors said to her ‘whatever you’re doing, carry on doing it. They were pleased with her recovery and how quickly her scars were healing.

“She now has a vegetarian diet and she has stayed cancer free.”

Tiffany adds that she noticed her own hair was shinier, eyes were brighter and that she felt less tired and more patient – all changes that she attributes to her new diet.

Although Tiffany initially went vegan for health reasons, she has now embraced the environmental and animal welfare benefits of her lifestyle choice.

“I think people are more aware now of the impact that humans have on the planet and it’s important to me to know that I’m having as little negative impact on the environment and animals as possible,” she says.

“I go to lots of vegan fairs now and lots of my friends and my boyfriend have become vegan too,” she adds.

Tiffany would urge anyone interested following a vegan diet to give it a go.

“Try it and see how you feel,” she says.

“Not all vegans eat lettuce! There are so many alternatives and they are so readily available – you will probably find things in your local corner shop.

“I have never missed meat and it’s good to know that you’re doing something that prevents others from suffering.”