FOR a fifth year, thousands of people are ditching animal produce and crossing over for Veganuary.

More than 150,000 people worldwide are expected to go vegan this month, filling their fridges and bathrooms with cruelty-free alternatives to kickstart a new lifestyle, or a few healthier habits.

For some the loss of meat in their evening meal is not an appetising prospect.

But Teresa Norris, of Boxted, describes going vegan as one of the best decisions she ever made.

She said: “My diet has become more healthy as I increase the number of fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods and I eat whole foods wherever possible.

“I was vegetarian for 35 years and the plight of farmed animals had always touched me. They are inquisitive and sociable and have needs similar to our own. 

“Mothers look after their babies, they cry with anguish when they are taken from them, exactly like we would and it breaks my heart.

“So when my son told me he was going vegan, I decided I would too.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Teresa with a homemade shepherd's pie sans meat

That was three-and-a-half years ago when her youngest son James was 25. 

“Initially my reply was, ‘No, don’t do that, it will be too difficult’ but he’d already made his mind up,” she said.

“He knew more about the meat and dairy industry than I perhaps had looked into and at that time, I did not realise there were so many alternatives available which is why it has been an easy transition.”

Given her love for animals, Teresa, 56, might well have become vegan decades ago but found it was easier to be vegetarian as people understood it better.

Her teenage self wanted to fit in with her peer group. She defended her lifestyle choices by stating they were for ethical reasons which would usually satisfy people’s curiosity.

She used to be a passionate activist and would join silent picketers outside of regional slaughterhouses.

She said: “People think the UK is the best for animal welfare standards but I have listened to the pigs screaming as they are lowered into gas chambers and it is horrific.

“You would see the pigs arriving. They have such intelligent eyes and I cannot believe we do that to these animals.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Vegan alternatives are plentiful in the supermarkets 

“But the tide is turning. The younger generation is embracing veganism and are opening their eyes to the issues surrounding meat and dairy production, but for older people, it is more of a challenge to change.”

Being a die-hard vegan though does not equate to being insensitive to other people’s choices, however opposing.

Teresa’s husband Steve has a flexible diet and describes himself as a “reluctant vegan”, opting for meat when eating out.

Although she accepts his half and half approach, she cannot condone it.
She said: “That would be ignoring the fact it is an animal which I cannot do.

“Even my puppy Rosie is on vegan dry food and she is extremely healthy and muscly.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Rosie knows which brand of soya milk she prefers

This lifestyle has spread among the Norris family with eldest son Michael, 29, as well as both brothers’ girlfriends and Teresa’s first granddaughter Amelia, all being vegan too.

Taking part in the Veganuary movement is free. Anyone who does so receives daily inspiration and support including shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice and recipes.

With a burgeoning number of vegan restaurants and food enthusiasts in Colchester, the challenge is not as daunting as it first appears, Teresa said.

“My advice for people thinking about taking part is to just go for it. It is not too late and you will be amazed how easy it is,” she said. 

“Think about the meals you currently eat and how these could be adapted to be meat, egg, and dairy-free.

“You, the animals and the planet will all be thankful you made those wise choices.”

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Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

A flavoursome Thai red curry without the meat. Picture: Veganuary

Wondering where to eat out? These are Teresa's top vegan picks:

Nourish in St John's St - "It's a great place to drop in and take away Nourish's signature homemade giant meat-free sausage rolls."


Zizzi at Headgate - "This has always been one of my family’s favourite places to eat out and now has a dedicated vegan menu."

Good Souls Bakery and Cafe in Queen Street - "Delicious food on offer in a relaxed atmosphere right next door to the Queen St. Brewhouse, what could be better?"


The Clock House in Coggeshall - "The manager is vegan and there are lots of vegan choices on the menu including delicious Sunday roasts and perfectly creamy vegan deserts."