This post was originally posted on January 3rd 2020. It has been updated for freshness, accuracy and completeness.
January is a month of fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s also the month of Veganuary – the “The Go Vegan 31 Day Challenge“.
Veganuary has helped over 1 million people around the world to try out a vegan diet. Its purpose is not to convert, but to show people the wonderful side of a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle off the plate.
For some, this can be a daunting challenge to take on. But with the right planning and these following tips, you can hit Veganuary with ease.
It also doesn’t hurt that veganism has exponentially grown in the last year. Here are some inspiring stats from the Vegan Society;
- 51% are happy to see vegan food in shops and restaurants
- 56% of adults in the UK practice vegan buying behaviours
- 19% have cut down on buying meat and are checking cosmetics and toiletries for animal-testing
- 13% actively choose meat-free or dairy-free meals when eating out
Inspired and ready to go, here are 15 Tips For Veganuary:
Tip 1 – Relax
First, take it easy. There is no expectation to be 100% vegan overnight.
It’s a gradual process. Take the month to learn about new ways of eating, new products, recipes and restaurants.
In the case of Veganuary, the journey is as important as the destination. Creating a solid foundation for a vegan diet and life leads to lasting, healthy changes – whether its total vegan or predominantly so.
Tip 2 – Know Why Are You Doing It
It’s important to know why you want to go vegan. You always drive with a destination in mind and knowing the reason why you want to take a challenge on ensures success and endurance – especially when faced with difficult moments.
There are many reasons, the obvious being animal welfare but your health and the environment are also valid reasons. Knowing why significantly helps you in your transition, it keeps you focused and reaffirms why you’re doing it. Your “why” is your north star for success.
Tip 3 – Find Recipes
Simply type in ‘vegan recipes’ and you will find billions of websites offering fantastic recipes.
Pinterest is a great start and is one of the first places many people look for vegan recipes. (Get ready to go down a rabbit hole of delicious recipes!)
P.S Sign up to Veganuary and they will send you delicious recipes straight to your mailbox to make life easier.
Tip 4 – Make Meal Plans a Thing
Now you know what you would like to cook, you can develop a weekly meal plan. Get off to the shops, buy what you need and get cooking. Meal plans are an effective way to stay on track save money, reduce food waste and save time.
PRO TIP: Cook double the recipe in the evenings and use the leftovers for lunch the following day. A great way to not just stay on track but also saves money from buying food for lunch but is a well-known way to be healthier.
Tip 5 – Get Varied
The success of any healthy eating plan is variance. This is even more true for a vegan diet.
This need not be a scary thing. There are so many amazing plant-based foods out there bursting with flavour and potential to be used in all sorts of ways. Some are quite strange, like jackfruit or banana blossom. But once you know how to prepare them, a whole new world of opportunities open up.
The healthy plant-based diet is focused on beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Eating a balance of the above ensures you get all the protein, vitamins and minerals you need to thrive on a plant-based diet.
Tip 6 – Know Your Nutrition
Following up on eating a varied diet is another very important factor to a successful vegan diet. Having a basic understanding of what makes your body healthy is key to being healthy. If you know your macro and micros nutrients, everything in between should take care of itself.
The more you learn about nutrition the more you will be able to plan your diet accordingly. Eventually, it will become second nature to you. Nutrition Facts is a well-known website for plant-based health and wellbeing.
If your motivation for going vegan is health, then this study is an absolute must. If your motivation is the animals or the environment, then still, knowing good nutrition means your activism will be successful with you thriving.
Tip 7 – Get Enough Calories
One of the reasons people report weight loss from a vegan diet is due to plant foods being considerably less calorie-dense than animal-based foods.
This however can be a problem in the long run. To feel healthy and energized, we need calories. And if you are not eating enough calories you will likely feel tired and eventually run the risk of nutrient deficiencies. This will be especially true for active people, teens and kids.
A safe way to start off is to make sure you eat plenty of beans and legumes, at least a healthy portion once a day to ensure you getting adequate calries and feel full and satisfied.
When starting your vegan journey, it’s also suggested to track your calories. This is a great way to learn what meals hold what calorie proportion. Start tracking your calories using My Fitness Pal or Chronometer so you can be sure you are full of energy!
Tip 8 – Give Alternatives a Go.
2019 and 2020 saw some of the biggest growth of any industry ever. Veganism grew exponentially and with it some incredible advancements in alternative products. You name it: vegan meat, milk, cheese, candy, cakes, sauces (mayonnaise for the win!) and even pies are all now available.
If you are lucky enough, your local supermarket will stock some of them. If not, you can always find them online. It is now easier than ever to eat pretty much exactly the same on a plant-based diet!
Tesco and Sainsburys were votes the best with Aldi following. You can now enjoy burger night or your a vegan fry up with scrambled tofu and facon (vegan bacon).
Tip 9 – You Can Still Enjoy Junk Food (If You Want To)
People often associate veganism with obsessive healthy eating. This isn’t true at all. You can have fun and enjoy many of your favourite junk foods just ‘veganized’.
In the UK, you can now pretty much get anything in a vegan version. Explore your local supermarket and see what you can find.
2019 and 2020 also saw a surge in vegan restaurants opening offering naughty treats. For example, Wolfsmouth @ Worlds End in Brighton sells incredible seitan based burgers. Search locally for your vegan restaurant.
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up on naughty treats. You can still enjoy your old pleasures just in a slightly different way.
Tip 10 – Use Happy Cow
What do you do when you fancy a meal out at a restaurant? Make use of the website Happy Cow which can be used to find restaurants in your area that accommodate vegans. It works all over the world and surprisingly well listed.
At the click of a button, you will be able to see all your local restaurants that have vegan options. Thankfully, in the UK most chain restaurants all have vegan options now!
Tip 11 – Watch Out for Sneaky Ingredients.
Sometimes you think a product should surely be vegan – like bread. But don’t be fooled, there are sneaky ingredients everywhere. The main culprits being milk solids, milk powder, whey powder (milk), eggs and gelatin.
Lot’s of crisps in the UK are made using milk solids and you will be surprised to find out that a lot of white wine has egg in its ingredients! Thankfully, supermarkets are getting much better at labelling their products but always double-check.
Tip 12 – Learn about Veganism off the Plate
Vegans avoid all products that contain animal parts, not just in terms of food. This is can be difficult to keep track of but you can make a good effort to avoid these products as much as possible and where is practicable.
Products from companies that test on animals are also a big no-no, so be sure to check your cosmetics for the Leaping Bunny label before buying. Dolma Fragrances is not only vegan but certified cruelty-free too.
TOP TIP: Don’t beat yourself up when you discover items of clothing you already own are not vegan. Or perhaps avoiding certain products is unavoidable. Do what you can, where you can. Small collective changes add up and that’s what counts.
Tip 13 – Learn More
Always keep learning about your new plant-based diet and the reasons why you decided to do it in the first place. Keep up to date on animal agriculture issues, current data on health benefits and look at research on how it benefits the environment.
Keeping yourself informed in this way, allows you to manage your diet better and reaffirms why you are doing it in the first place.
Tip 14 – Ask for Support
You may find some people around you don’t understand your decision. This can be tough, especially when it’s close family or friends. Don’t be afraid to ask them to support you in something you want to succeed in. Knowing your friends and family support your decision makes it that much easier. But accept some resistance, you can’t please everyone. Laugh when they make silly vegan jokes and don’t allow provocation into arguments. Remember why your motivation for trying our veganism for Veganuary.
Alternatively, a great source of support is to take on Veganuary or your new vegan diet with a friend or family member. It’s a great fun to try new things together!
Tip 15 – Join a Vegan Community
If you can’t find support in real life, you are sure to find it online. There is plenty of support for newbie vegans out there on the internet. There is an abundance of free information, advice, support and recipes if you look in the right places.
If you have taken the pledge with Veganuary, you will get all this support via email but it’s good to speak to real people online too for extra support.
The advantage of being part of an online community is that you get lot’s of information all in one place. It’s also a chance to connect to likeminded people, ask questions and share experiences.
Most importantly, have fun! Whether you are just doing Veganuary or committing to veganism more permanently, it can be a fun experience. You will eat some new, amazing food. Meet some new interesting people and also connect to your world. Many vegans report a mental shift around their food and say they feel happier for their new diet.