AS we say goodbye to what has been a controversial veganuary, two Worcester News reporters who took on the challenge have been reflecting on their very different experiences.

Jessica Charles: "I cannot think of a single good reason for going back to my previous diet, and therefore have decided not to. Veganuary has been an amazing experience and has not only proved to me that I don’t need meat or dairy products to be healthy, but that I don’t need them to be happy.

"The first few days was quite strange however. I felt tired and and had a recurring stomach ache, but this went away pretty quickly and now I have no health side effects from my new diet at all. The variety of meals, snacks and drinks has continually surprised me and I have discovered that more restaurants and cafes cater for vegans than I realised. My favourite new place to go is Orto Lounge in Evesham, but The King Charles House in Worcester does a great vegan pie and Be The Change Foods in Worcester is a lovely, unthreatening place to go if you are new to the world of vegan food.

"One of the best parts of being vegan is that a my mere existence seems to antagonize a group of people I like to call ‘The Cult of Protein,’ which is made up of those who love to tirelessly insist that veganism is not just generally unhealthy, but is the path to a slow, painful, protein deficient death.

"Whilst some people may feel bewildered by the abyss of online hate that veganism stirs, I think you should just ignore it and carry on."

Grace Walton: "My involvement participating in Veganuary did not run as smoothly as Jess’. After the first week of cutting out dairy and meat I felt lethargic and was experiencing headaches. It did not help I had also caught the flu, so in general I was feeling pretty sluggish.

"Gradually I started feeling fresher - as a matter of fact it felt like my body underwent a detox. It was week three and all was going well. I was making these tasty vegan dishes and embracing the health-kick - until I gave into temptation and went out for a curry. Although my guilty conscience was telling me not to, I ordered the most un-vegan meal imaginable, and I hate to say it, but I loved every minute. I admit, I feel like an utter failure as I did not complete the month - although I have continued incorporating plant-based meals into my diet. My favourite dish I had made was a delicious vegan Thai curry. What I struggled with most was coming home and being surrounded by a family who enjoys meat. I was at my mum's for a roast dinner one Sunday and was handed a plate of vegetables – no gravy, no meat - just an overwhelming amount of vegetables. I admit, it was quite disheartening."