AN ANNUAL campaign to encourage people to try vegan in January looks set to be bigger than ever in 2018.

More than 150,000 people are predicted to sign up for Veganuary which is now in its fifth year.

In 2017 there were 60,000 registered participants from 172 countries, and one of them was Dorset resident, Jessie Marshall.

"I had already been vegetarian for 32 years when my husband Al and I started to notice the rise of veganism.

"We knew very little about the dairy industry but decided to find out more, and so we watched films like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives. And we signed up for Veganuary."

Jessie credits that month with changing their lives. "Since going vegan, we have so much more energy. We feel fitter, healthier and calmer, and we get to eat more but stay slim. We haven’t looked back."

Jessie and Al have recommended their two favourite local restaurants for anyone who would just like to try more plant-based meals.

1. The Mad Cucumber, Bournemouth. "They have a fab menu of lovely vegan food and lush vegan cakes all set in a quirky vintage style cafe. It's a really chilled place to hang out with likeminded people and eat wonderful vegan food."

2. Wagamamas, Bournemouth ."We love to pop to Wagamamas who are really accommodating for vegans and have quite a few vegan options or meals that can be veganified very easily. My favourite is the Pad Thai!"

Veganuary CEO Simon Winch said: "Most people, like Jessie, take part in Veganuary because they have concerns over the way animals are farmed and slaughtered, but thousands more take part for their health or because they want to reduce their environmental impact. These are all excellent reasons, and everyone is welcome! But no matter what prompts someone to try vegan, good food is really important, and those taking part in Veganuary will soon find out that they do not need to compromise on great flavours, and nor will they struggle to eat out with friends."

It is free to take part in Veganuary, and everyone receives daily support emails that offer shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans, and answers to common questions.

They also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where they can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month.