So you’re thinking about doing Veganuary? Or maybe you’ve already started and you’re looking for inspiration? Here are my top tips and tricks for Veganuary.
I did my first Veganuary in 2016. I then repeated it in 2017 and 2018 and decided to continue as a full time vegan after that. I’m now near the end of my first year as a vegan and I’m loving it.
Yet my non-vegan days are recent enough that I can still remember what I found tricky at the start and I wanted to share some of my tips to those of you who are perhaps doing Veganuary for the first time.
First things first, what is veganism?
Choosing to be a vegan means avoiding consuming food that is derived from animals. This includes dairy produce, eggs and honey as well as meat and fish. It also means looking out for ingredients such as gelatine and food colours that come from insects eg cochineal that might be less obvious. Most vegans also avoid wearing leather and other shoes and clothing that have come from animals. If you’re doing Veganuary you don’t have to throw out your leather shoes – but it might make you think next time you go to the shoe shop.
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a registered charity that encourages people to try living as a vegan for the month of January each year. Veganuary hopes to inspire people to continue as vegans beyond January and hope that in the future veganism will be a mainstream lifestyle choice. They’re a supportive and positive charity that aims to support new vegans and people taking part in Veganuary with recipes, label reading help and eating out advice.
My top tips and tricks for Veganuary
The more organised you are the easier it’ll be to stick to eating a vegan diet. Take a look at the products you use a lot and write a shopping list so you won’t be caught out on the 1st January. Take butter for example. Dairy free spread is relatively easy to find but many small local shops don’t yet sell it. You may need to travel to a large supermarket, health food shop or do an online order to get some staples. And with snacks it’s often easier to make your own – for example my cashew and ginger energy balls.
Meal plan and batch cook
Work out what you’re going to eat, shop in advance and batch cook. Having some healthy home cooked meals in the freezer will help you out when you’re feeling too tired or lazy to cook. There are absolutely tons of wonderful vegan recipes you can make so focus on them rather than what you can’t eat. Check out these 31 vegan dinner recipes or if you’re struggling for brekkie inspiration check out these 25 delicious vegan breakfast ideas.
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Stock your pantry well
Herbs and spices will make all the difference to your vegan cooking as will miso, nutritional yeast, chilli sauce, mustard, olives, sun dried tomatoes etc. Get some grains and a few easy vegan staples like vegan pesto, tins of beans, some tofu etc. But you don’t need to go overboard on expensive products. By all means try meat substitutes, vegan cheese etc but vegetables, pulses and grains should be your go-to.
Once you start checking labels you’ll be amazed at how many things aren’t vegan. Milk powder appears all over the place – even in things that really should be vegan like ready salted crisps. Egg also pops up a lot. A lot of wine and beer isn’t strictly vegan either as it is filtered using animal products. Check the label and if in doubt, ask. Label reading can get pretty tedious though and there are some useful apps out there to help you check, such as Is It Vegan?
Look for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest or get yourself a good vegan cookbook. If you don’t want to commit to buying one check out your local library – mine has a big selection of vegan cookbooks.
There are some amazing vegan chefs/restaurants/pop ups/street food stalls out there at the moment. Take the opportunity to try as many new cuisines as you can and discover whether vegan Mexican, Korean or Indian is your favourite. Many chain restaurants also have good vegan options. ASK Italian, Zizzi, Wagamama and Leon are some of my favourites.
Take a packed lunch
Despite what I’ve said above, many places still don’t have a vegan option at all or have something a bit disappointing. Hummus and undercooked vegetable panini anyone? To avoid lunch break disappointment make yourself a packed lunch to take to work. Check out these 30 ideas for a vegan packed lunch.
Talk to your friends and family
If you’re going somewhere for a meal give your host plenty of notice or offer to take a dish with you if you think it’s going to be difficult. If you’re taking Veganuary seriously it’s worth explaining to people exactly what you can and can’t eat. Many people don’t realise that honey isn’t suitable for vegans – and there are still a few who’ll assume fish is ok too.
Look out for new vegan brands in the supermarket
In the last few years the amount of vegan products available has boomed. Even budget supermarkets often sell a range of products such as vegan sausages, coconut yoghurt and marinated tofu pieces. Asian supermarkets and whole food shops are also great sources of vegan products as are street markets. Many cities even have dedicated vegan markets these days where you can get everything from soaps to chocolates and burgers to pulled jackfruit tacos. If you prefer online then Ocado do a great range of vegan products and there are lots of vegan subscription boxes you can sign up to to get a range of products delivered to your door.
Team up with a friend
If you can persuade a friend or your partner to share your Veganuary journey with you, you’ll find it much easier. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off, share recipes with and you can even cook for each other.
Try a variety of products
If you hate the taste of one brand of dairy free milk, try another. Products really vary and it comes down to personal taste a lot of the time. For example I’m really not keen on soya milk but I love oat milk and have converted my whole family to it.
Don’t give up if you hit a rocky patch
Chances are you’ll have a difficult moment. You’ll be at a friends house and they’ll order a pepperoni pizza. Or someone brings out a cheeseboard after dinner. And if you fall off the vegan wagon once in a while it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Every day you manage to eat plant-based makes a difference so don’t beat yourself up if you do slip up.
Eat a balanced diet
Try to eat as many different vegetables, pulses, grains etc as possible. Literally eat the rainbow – eat food of all different colours. This will help to give you all the nutrients you need and your body will thank you for it. There are vegan supplements available for things like vitamin B12 if you feel like something’s lacking.
Check out my recipes on the Veganuary website.
If you like this you might like the following posts:
20 vegan picnic ideas (for those of you in the southern hemisphere)