Hello Veganuary

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try a vegan diet for the whole of January. During the 2019 campaign, more than a quarter of a million people took part in this challenge.

Why the vegan diet?

There are many reasons why someone should be vegan. Most people do it to try to lower animal suffering and slaughter at farms, but there are also environmental reasons and on top of it vegan diet has many health benefits.

For example, if you go vegan today, 6 months from now, you will have saved approximately:

  • 198,000 gallons of water 💦
  • 5,400 square feet of rainforest 🌲
  • 7,200 pounds of grain 🌾
  • 3,600 pounds of CO2 🏭
  • 100 animal lives 🐷

If you have been thinking of being vegan, then taking part of Veganuary is great way to start and challenge yourself.

Photo credit https://uk.veganuary.com/

Fun fact!

At EpicZen all staff members are vegan including founders Ivo Aulik and Ivana Vyravcova.

They answered some of the questions about the vegan lifestyle:

What are the 3 main things you would recommend to someone who wants to educate herself on how vegans adjust their lifestyle from the regular western diet? 

  1. Familiarise yourself with vegan foods first. Many people think that vegans only eat raw carrots and salad leaves. The reality is quite contrary, vegans eat everything that the rest of us eat, just without the meat or dairy products. It is easier to be vegan now, than ever before, as there are so many substitutes for meat, so you won’t have to really give up anything. If you learn how to cook delicious plant-based, whole food meals, then we promise that there is no way that you ever want to go back to old ways again. However, it may take some time to get your menu fine-tuned, so be patient!
  2. Learn and motivate yourself by watching documentaries and read books. Movies such as “The Game Changer”, “Cowspiracy”, “What the Health” and “Forks Over Knives” (all available on Netflix), will help you to understand why it is important for everyone to eventually give up meat and dairy products. For us was the book “The China Study” that sealed the deal.
  3. Understand that going vegan doesn’t mean that you eat automatically healthy. If you eat only McDonald’s chips, then technically you can call yourself a vegan, but your engines won’t be running for very long. As for everyone, a balanced diet and a healthy diet is key.

What has been the most positive result of veganism?

Good karma!

The general belief is that vegans do not get enough nutrients or protein due to foods they exclude from their diets. Based on personal experience, is it easy to track all your nutrients on a daily basis as a vegan? 

By coincidence, Ivo had a “Thriva” blood test done just a few days ago. Before that, we were speculating that probably his B12 will be low as this is very common among vegans. By surprise, all his nutritional levels were superb. Also, the protein levels were showing maximum.

Worries about the lack of nutrients in vegan’s body are not usually justified. Although meat products are very nutritious, we need to go back to basics and understand, where do the animals that we eat, get those nutrients from? The answer is very simple: from the same stuff that vegans eat… Do not forget that the meat we eat is those days so heavily processed that it is questionable, how much nutritional benefits we actually get? However, what we can be sure of is that meet products do come with a heavy dosage of carcinogens that is cancer’s starter kit.

Do you need to plan your menu ahead much more compared to the times when you were not vegan? 

Vice versa, it feels that since we started the plant-based, wholefoods diet, everything is more simplified.

How do people generally react after finding out you being vegan? Have there been times when it was difficult for you to explain it to someone because they were so against it?

We are not “activists” vegans, we eat plant-based food not because someone told us to do so. Hence, we are not very loud about that. If someone asks about our diet then we answer their question, but we won’t try to change their ways. Everyone has to change at their own base and only when they want to! Surely there are many vegans who disagree with this as the planet cannot sustain the animal agriculture. However, we need to be realistic about how we change peoples’ views. We have many friends that have followed us on this journey, but they have done it only because they see how easy it is for us and how delicious meals we eat. Pushing the guilt buttons on people won’t do any good.

People do not only go vegan due to health benefits but due to the fact that they do not want to support the animal industry which often harms animals. What do you think are other reasons to go vegan?

Animal agriculture is the biggest source of CO2 and Greenhouse emissions. It produces more than all the transportation systems put together. We mean all the cars, lorries, airplanes, large cruise ships, etc, etc. More that 80% of all the farmland in the world is used to produce food for animals and not for humans; therefore, billions of hectares of forest have been destroyed including Amazon rain forest – and all of this to feed the animals that we eat. Manure that is produced by this is killing wildlife in our rivers and oceans, not to mention the colossal health hazard that millions of people are forced to face on a daily bases. Our planet is in breaking point, but we could easily change that if we could make the change which is so simple yet scared by so many. If our children’s future is not good enough reason to give up the animal products, then we don’t know what is…

Do you think you will ever see a period of time where the majority of people go vegan?

Although the last few years has shown many positive changes, in the world perspective, things are only getting worse. As the human population is growing at such a fast rate, for every 1 person that goes vegan, 100 meat-eaters have been born. Yet, every one of us should change the world by changing ourselves first. We are staying optimistic that soon we cross the tipping point and the people will see meat-eating as unpopular and disgusting as smoking. Nevertheless, if this won’t happen, then sooner or later we will be forced to start eating plant-based foods, as the climate won’t let us spend all our resources on feeding animals. We hope that the world won’t see this day anytime soon!

What is your favorite vegan food?

For Ivana: Al dente cooked spaghetti, served with Bolognese sauce and (Linda McCarthy’s – meat-free) meatballs, topped with nutritional yeast flakes.

For Ivo: Oven-baked marinated crispy Tofu stripes, with wok cooked okra, broccoli, Romero peppers, and noodles, in Madras curry sauce.

Do you miss any non-vegan foods?

Very rarely we get cravings for fish, yet our mind always changes when we are walking into the morgue section of the supermarket.

We encourage you to try a vegan diet for a month or swap one day a week for plant-based food. We don’t need a handful of people having a perfect vegan diet. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.


Winter Wellness Tips


Winter Wellness Tips

There truly is something about the change of season that can put you in a funk. The colder temperature and fewer hours of daylight make it hard to stick with your normal routine. When your body does not have the sunlight, it is not uncommon to feel down or sluggish.
Here are some lifestyle and diet tips for winter wellness: 


The best way to prevent catching a cold or any other sickness is by washing your hands with soap and warm water. You learned it in the nursery, and it all still applies.Proper washing removes the germs from your hands, so they are not able to enter your body through eyes, nose, or mouth, which we often touch without even noticing. It also prevents the spread of germs to objects or food that others would then touch or eat. Hands should be washed before eating and preparing food, after using the restroom, and upon returning home from being out in public.


It is hard to stay motivated to exercise during the cold and dark months, but it is important. Moderate exercise increases the circulation and flow of blood that carries immune cells throughout the body, supporting your body’s immune system during winter. It is also shown to reduce stress.


Sleep allows your body to rest, restore, and rebuild. Studies show that those who do not get enough sleep have high levels of inflammation, which preoccupies your immune system. It is tempting to stay up late and binge-watch Netflix, but sleep should be your first priority.


Eating during winter does not have to be boring and vitamin deficient. Keep carbohydrate and mucus-forming foods such as white bread, pasta, and dairy to a minimum and fill your plate with dark leafy greens, winter squash, citrus and pomegranate, which are in season.

These fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, which increase your energy.


Both your immune system and mood depend on vitamin D. Because vitamin D is made in your body after exposure to sun, it is common for people to become deficient in vitamin D during winter months. Ask your doctor for a blood test to see where your vitamin D levels are.


Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress. Because your body cannot make vitamin C, it must come from the foods you eat every day. Many fruits and vegetables supply this vital vitamin. Sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and kiwifruit, among others.


Mushrooms – are one of the only foods that contain Vitamin D, which is critical to your immune system. A 2006 study found that the beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that is part of the soluble fiber found in mushrooms, had potential anti-inflammatory activity, which may help protect the body against disease. Mushrooms extracts may also stimulate different cells of the immune system.

Garlic – Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin, the main active ingredient in garlic. Regularly eating garlic may help prevent the common cold or the flu. If you do get sick, eating garlic can reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you recover faster. These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses that cause the common cold or flu.

Green vegetables – It turns out that green vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, kale are the source of a chemical signal that is important to a fully functioning immune system. They do this by ensuring that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly. 

Brightly colored vegetables – Carotenoids such as beta-carotene are important antioxidants that aid in immune system function. Carotenoids are present in bright yellow, orange vegetables. It is important to get a variety of vegetables of different colors because various types of carotenoids are thought to work together to strengthen the body’s immune system.

Fermented foods – Research suggests that consuming fermented foods may boost the immune system. According to various studies have shown that regular consumption of fermented foods can help with fighting bacteria, reducing inflammation and increase antioxidant activity.

In case you still get a cold, you can try these easy steps for a quick recovery.

1. Avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy and sugar

2. Drink plenty of fluids: water, teas, soups

3. Get some extra help from supplements like vitamin C, Olive leaf extract, Echinacea, Probiotics

4. Add some garlic to your food 

5. Rest!!! Your body needs extra energy and time to fight the virus.

PS! Please see your GP if your symptoms persist.

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(Average reading time: 3minutes, 42 seconds)

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