EVER since A list couple Beyonce and Jay Z announced they’d switched to a plant-based diet for an entire month to cleanse their systems of processed food, veganism has been in the news.

A vegetarian for 25 years I’d lately given serious thought to ditching dairy. Then I heard about Veganuary, (www.veganuary.com) a campaign run in conjunction with animal welfare group Viva, where people pledged to attempt to stick to the vegan diet for the month of January.

I admit I entered Veganuary fully expecting to ‘break’ within the week, such was my weakness for cheese and a milky cup of Yorkshire Tea.

On new year’s eve I enjoyed a stash of cheese related treats, mourned the passing of the last of the semi skimmed and stocked up on fresh fruit and veg, soya milk and quorn alternatives (as a vegan my beloved quorn was now outlawed due to it containing egg).

The reasons behind my decision were predominantly ethical, just as they had been 25 years ago. I set out to learn more about why the dairy industry was considered cruel and it wasn’t long before I found new incentive to keep to my vegan challenge. Consider the life of a dairy cow – she exists in a constant state of pregnancy, only to have her newborns snatched away, her milk given to another species until she is too old to reproduce and is sent to slaughter.

But still the challenge remained. Soya milk in tea I found vile, so I tried almond milk – worse – and then alleluia - coconut milk!

And in the space of a week a whole new world of creative cooking was opened up to me – helped along massively by tips and advice from members of the Veganuary facebook page – likeminded individuals who were either seasoned vegans with suggestions on how to adapt, those who were in a similar position to myself and those who were struggling with cravings.

Soya mince quickly replaced quorn and I couldn’t keep out of the kitchen I was so keen to try out new recipes.

In the main these were success stories (my vegan hotpot was even a hit with my non-vegetarian friends) and just a couple of complete disasters.

Ocado sell and deliver an Aladdin’s cave of reasonably priced vegan food.

I’m now addicted to the VBites making waves tuna style pate and the products from Vegusto (too many too mention) have become a staple!

But you’d also be really surprised to learn just how much supermarket fodder is ‘accidently’ vegan – although it does take a little practice checking labels for sneaky ingredients like milk in crisps.

My food diary, something I had initially hoped would serve as a reminder of what I could turn to when my options ran out, instead became something I was proud to look back on.

As for meal ideas – they’re endless – and let’s dispel a myth here – they don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. My fruit and veg consumption has soared, I’ve become something of an expert with a bit of seasoning and a few herbs and spices.

My confidence and ability in the kitchen has soared.

It’s simply a matter of being more creative.

So far I’ve eaten out twice and its not been a problem – given a little notice most chefs are more than happy to accommodate vegans and use their imagination and talent.

Truthfully, I’ve surprised myself - being vegan is so much easier than I ever imagined.

I’ve never once felt hungry or deprived, I’ve never had a single cheese craving (despite a fridge packed with vegan alternatives).

I feel better, I’ve more energy, my conscience is clear (according to Viva being vegan saves 100 animals a month from slaughter) and I’ve lost a stone without even trying!

There’s no going back for this vegan.