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More people join ‘Veganuary’ movement to try animal-free diet

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    The Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger containing wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein among it’s ingredients. Tens of thousands of Americans have signed up with the British charity Veganuary this year, agreeing to try a vegan diet free of all animal products.

CHICAGO >> She misses pizza and hamburgers, and she longs for eggs.

Grocery store runs that would have taken an hour now take two, due to factors such as the need to scan labels for hidden ingredients.

But a week without meat or animal products has already yielded rewards, she says, from less puffiness under her eyes to what feels like a bit more speed in her morning run.

“I’ve always had a lot of energy, but it’s a different energy,” said Penny Shack, 37, of Lincoln Park.

“My sleep is so much better. And so far, I don’t feel hungry or miserable.”

Shack is one of tens of thousands of Americans who have signed up with the British charity Veganuary this year, agreeing to try a vegan diet free of all animal products. Participants are free to just try going vegan for a meal or two, but some — including Shack — are attempting a full January of veganism without even honey (yes, it’s an animal product.)

Worldwide, 226,000 people have signed up for Veganuary (Vee-GAN-uary) this year, up from 168,000 in 2018, according to a Veganuary spokeswoman, who said the charity does not yet have a figure for U.S. signups in 2019 but the number is up from last year.

Veganuary, a high-profile campaign in Britain, provides information for newcomers, including recipes, tips for eating out and nutritional information.

Shack, a sales representative for a nutritional company, said she was moved to try Veganuary this year in part because her 2018 diet, heavy in fruits and vegetables with some meat and dairy, was already fairly close to vegan, and in part because she wanted to take her healthy eating to the next level.

“I think a majority of people, come January, they just want a reset. They want some sort of cleanse or detox,” she said.

Asked if she’s going to continue as a vegan in February, she said she can see making a reservation at a steakhouse Feb. 1. On the other hand, she’s curious about the benefits of four weeks without animal products.

“Am I honestly going to feel so amazing that I’m not going to want to back?” she said. “I don’t know.”

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