How to do Veganuary

As you know, Veganuary is a month-long campaign encouraging people to try a plant-based diet throughout January. Once you have decided to go vegan, do your research and prepare yourself for the switch, especially if you’re not accustomed to going meat-free or can’t imagine how long you will survive without eggs or dairy! With this in mind, we have pulled together some top tips to help you prepare for Veganuary,

Tips for surviving

1. Understand why you want to try veganism

Below are the main reasons people adopt a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle:

  • Personal health choices
  • Help prevent animal cruelty
  • Help reduce the impact on the environment

If you’re clear on what motivates you to take on the Veganuary challenge, you can use it as motivation to keep going on the tough days, and it will help prevent you from veering off track!

2. Do your homework

Before Veganuary begins, consider what you normally eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner and how to make them plant-based. We will go into more detail on this in the following section. It’s also worth seeing if local cafes and restaurants offer good vegan options.

If you like a bit of variety with your meals, it might be worth buying a vegan cookbook to give you some inspiration.

Educating yourself on reading food labels will also be useful so you know which ingredients to avoid. Some non-vegan ingredients to be aware of include gelatine, albumen (egg white), whey powder, lactose and casein. Also, look out for vegan society-approved logos on the packaging or even just ‘suitable for vegans’ as this can save a lot of time reading through every ingredient list on the weekly food shop!

3. Learn about vegan alternatives & substitutes

Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up your favourite foods. Nowadays, there are many high-quality and delicious vegan substitutes for almost everything that can replace ingredients in recipes.

If there’s a particular meal or snack you can’t go without, simply shop around for alternatives! For example, you could swap out the mince for mushrooms or soya-based mince for spaghetti Bolognese. Likewise, you could swap meats or fish in curries or stir-fries for vegetables or tofu. Even chocolate and ice cream have delicious vegan alternatives, so you certainly don’t have to go without them!

4. Start with dishes you love and then branch out to more adventurous recipes

Once you’ve got the basics, you can start to get more adventurous with new ingredients. It’s a great excuse to try tasty plant-based food at vegan-friendly restaurants or new recipes in vegan cookbooks. It also expands your palate beyond what you’re used to eating and allows you to experiment with spices to add flavour and try new vegetables and legumes in your food.

Remember to focus on nutrient diversity and density – eat the rainbow! All the different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different levels of nutrients, so by eating a diet varied in colour, you will be eating a varied diet. Similarly, fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense, keeping you fuller for longer!

It’s worth noting here, although vegan alternatives such as meat substitutes are useful for the transition into a vegan diet, as you get more confident with cooking, it’s best to lessen your reliance on these as they can be highly processed with excessive levels of sodium & sugar. Instead, try to eat as naturally as possible.

5. Plan your meals and snacks ahead

Make a plan for the week ahead and stick to it. That way, you won’t be caught off guard, and it will decrease the chances of you slipping up. It’s up to you to decide to plan your meals; some people find cooking in bulk helpful as you don’t have to do too much thinking, while others like to use a vegan cookbook and pick a new recipe for every day of the week. Do what feels right for you, but planning is key.

You can also follow meal plans. To help, we have pulled together our own meal plan here.

6. Be open-minded about vegan supplements

Sourcing all the nutrients your body needs from plant-based foods can be tricky. The most common potential deficiencies to consider supplementing are:

  • B12
  • DHA (Omega 3)
  • D3
  • Iron

7. Don’t let slip-ups stop you

Slip-ups can happen to anyone. Don’t let it get in your way if you accidentally eat something that contains an animal product or have a moment of weakness. Remember all the effort you have put into your veganism, and an odd slip-up now and again won’t undo all that you have done so far. Just keep trying your best and remember nobody is perfect.

Finally, if you want to challenge yourself, why not attempt to do both Veganuary and Dry January?