Thinking about doing Veganuary and need some support? As well as my Veganuary Support Kit, I’ve put together my top tips.
With the meat-free market skyrocketing and athletes raving about the benefits of a vegan diet, it’s no wonder more people are choosing a plant-powered lifestyle.
Over a million people have taken the pledge to try veganism for 31 days, including celebrities, politicians, athletes and everyone in between. So… where do you start?
1. Think about your why
As with any lifestyle change, you need a strong enough motivator to keep yourself focused. People go vegan for various reasons: to improve their health, reduce their environmental impact and end animal suffering. Do some research into each of these areas and find which one resonates with you the most. Once you’ve identified your ‘why,’ going vegan won’t seem like a chore.
2. Get clued up on nutrition
Don’t believe the myths – you can get everything your body needs on a well-planned vegan diet at all stages of life. However, it’s important to do some research when switching to a plant-based diet so you know you’re getting enough nutrients. There are some great sources of information online, including NHS, NutritionFacts.org and The Vegan Society.
3. Plan ahead
If you know absolutely nothing about vegan food, fear not. It’s just the same as… regular food. Tons of the foods you eat are already vegan: bread, rice, pasta, crumpets, hummus, oats, as well as lots of crisps, sweets, chocolates and snack foods. Research ‘accidentally vegan foods’ online and social media – you’ll be surprised.
Browse vegan recipes online and follow some vegan foodie accounts on social media to give you an idea of what you’d like to eat. Do a big shop before Veganuary begins so you’re not starting from scratch on January 1st.
4. Veganise your current meals
If a complete overhaul of your current diet feels too alien to you, start by veganising the meals you already eat. Swap minced meat for plant-based alternatives in your spag bol, put almond milk in your breakfast porridge instead of cow’s milk, or use tofu in your stir fry instead of chicken. There are plenty of meat and fish replacements available in supermarkets, so have fun experimenting and find the ones you like the most.
5. Make a shopping list – and stick to it!
At the beginning, you might crave certain foods you eat all the time. This is normal. If you slip up a few times, this doesn’t make you a terrible person. To reduce the chances of you reaching for bacon in the supermarket, make a list of exactly what you need so you only end up buying those foods. If you go food shopping without a plan, there’s a higher chance of you thinking, “Oh, sod it, I’ll just have a steak.”
6. Stock up on staples
Lots of the same foods can be used in various vegan meals because they’re so versatile.
Be sure to stock up on staples like chickpeas, edamame beans, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, lentils, quinoa and green veggies as well as a few herbs, spices and sauces.
Even when your meal prep game is lacking, you’ll be able to whip up yummy dishes with whatever’s in your cupboard.
7. Eat out
Experimenting in the kitchen is one of the most fun parts of eating plant-based, but you’re not limited to your own culinary creations. You may notice the abundance of newly launched vegan options during Veganuary – that’s not a coincidence. Most restaurants, popular takeaway chains and fast food joints have vegan options, so take advantage of everything that’s out there.
8. Be open to change
Keep an open mind when trying new things. If you approach Veganuary with misconceptions such as “I can’t get enough protein” or “vegan food is disgusting,” you’re not going to enjoy it because you’ve already decided you won’t.
You won’t die of malnutrition, protein is in pretty much everything and as mentioned earlier, countless foods you eat everyday are vegan without you realising they are. Although you can get vegan versions of everything nowadays, some alternatives may not taste exactly the same as “real” meat, fish or cheese. Be patient and willing to experiment – that’s part of the fun!