If you’ve over-indulged over the festive season, it’s not too late to join over half a million others who are pledging to undertake a healthy, plant-based diet this January.
Veganuary lasts throughout January and challenges people to go vegan for the entire month. The event is organised by a non-profit company that encourages everyone across the globe to undertake a vegan lifestyle in the New Year.
Whether you are considering trying a vegan diet to feel healthier, to do your bit to save the planet, or out of concern for animal welfare, there are plenty of reasons to feel motivated to give a plant-based diet a try.
If you are ready to embrace a vegan lifestyle but don’t know where to start – then read on for some helpful tips and meal ideas to keep you inspired and on track throughout Veganuary.
Start planning your vegan meals
Newcomers to a vegan diet will need to do a little planning to ensure that their nutritional needs are met, so planning out your meals in advance is essential.
If that sounds like hard work – then let technology help you. There are plenty of vegan-based websites and apps that are designed to help you on your way. Try Amino for recipes and Happy Cow which rounds up all the vegan options served in UK restaurants if you plan to eat out.
If you’ve never tried veganism before, then Veganuary will mean you’ll go ‘cold turkey,’ giving up meat, poultry, fish and dairy overnight. Luckily, there are a host of meat substitutes that taste just as good as ‘the real thing.’ So if you are worried about cravings for a bacon butty or burger you can still enjoy plant-based rashers or hearty pea protein burgers.
Pick a protein
Most non-vegans gain the majority of their protein from eating meat or poultry. During Veganuary you’ll need to pick an alternative source of protein such as beans or grains.
Tofu is a popular protein substitute and is a versatile ingredient that need not be boring or tasteless. Try Tofu Tikka and Cauliflower Skewers served with a helping of green salad for a protein-packed lunch, or for a warming winter supper whip up a Spicy Vegan Chilli served with cashew nut sour cream.
Don’t miss out on calcium
Many people who want to try veganism worry that cutting dairy products from their diet will mean they will miss out on calcium. Cheese, milk and eggs are all rich in calcium, but there are some amazing dairy alternatives.
Leafy veggies such as cabbage, okra and broccoli are all good sources of calcium, as are dried fruits – raisins, figs, dried apricots and prunes are all calcium-rich – and can be incorporated into a plant-based diet.
This easy to prepare Broccoli and Cauliflower Curry makes a quick midweek meal – we suggest making a double batch as it’s a recipe that freezes well.
If you have a sweet tooth, try a vegan Dried Apricot Cake with a crunchy coconut topping, which can be made using just one bowl – so you cut down on the washing up as well!
Dried apricots also work well in savoury vegan dishes, such as this Moroccan Chickpea and Apricot Tagine, crammed with warm spices and flavours from North Africa.
Make room for treats
A vegan diet shouldn’t be hard work or bland – and you’ll be more likely to succeed if you’re eating food you enjoy and allow yourself a little treat once or twice a week.
Big-name brands such as Galaxy Milk Chocolate are now catering for vegans, with an indulgent Caramel and Sea Salt chocolate bar that is both guilt-free and gluten-free. Candy Kittens provide another sweet treat and are made with real fruit juices and natural strawberry flavours and colours.
Cheese is one of the hardest things to say goodbye to during Veganuary – but there is no need to miss out – you just need to make the switch to a plant-based alternative. For a little bit of weekend indulgence, warm up a vegan Camembert bake and pair it with chunks of dried fruit, crackers and a glass of wine.
Vegan options for eating out
One of the hardest aspects of veganism used to be finding a suitable meal when eating out – but times have changed. Many of the largest restaurants now offer plenty of tasty meat-free meals.
Good old fashioned pub grub is not off the menu either, with Harvester offering sharing plates of vegan nachos and a bottomless salad bar. Main courses include Chilli Non-Carne and herb battered halloumi and chips.
Fast-food chains have also caught up with the growing demand for a plant-based alternative, with McDonald’s launching a McPlant burger topped with pickles, sauce and vegan cheese. KFC have a vegan ‘chicken’ burger made using a Quorn patty coated in the signature KFC blend of spices and herbs.
Look for the vegan trademark
It can be quite a task to check every ingredient when you are out shopping to make certain it’s vegan, so a great tip is to look out for the Vegan Trademark on the food you buy.
Any product showing the trademark (and there are almost 60,000) are certified to have no animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals.
It’s not just food that can display the Vegan Trademark, many soaps, shampoos and clothing brands also sport the certification, helping you to take your vegan lifestyle into other areas of your life as well.
Sign up for Veganuary online
If you decide to give the Veganuary challenge a go, then it’s not too late to get started. Simply visit the Veganuary website and subscribe for free to gain access to resources such as an online celebrity cookbook and plenty of support and encouragement.