Simple Tips and Advice for Joining in with Veganuary was originally published in January 2019 and updated in January 2020.
Whether it’s for health reasons or ethical reasons, Veganuary is getting more and more attention each year. With approximately 600,000 people in the UK now identifying as vegan, it’s safe to say veganism is on the rise and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
Whatever your reasons for joining Veganuary, I applaud you for taking the steps to join in with the challenge. But, if you’re beginning to wonder how the hell you’re going to make it through the month, here are some simple tips to help you along the way.
Cook Books & Magazines
If cooking is your thing and you’re looking forward to trying some new recipes, you won’t be disappointed.
With so many books and brightly coloured Instagram feeds to choose from, there’s no shortage of inspiration.
My favourite recipes come from the boys at BOSH! Although they have a few different books now available, their first one is still my favourite. We probably use it 3-4 times a week. It’s the most straight forward book I’ve found, and their recipes are easy to follow. They also have a YouTube channel and an Instagram feed.
One of my other favourite Instagram feeds is the Avant-Garde Vegan by Gaz Oakley.
Aside from cook books there are also many Vegan magazines available. My favourite is Vegan Life. As the title suggests, it isn’t just about cooking, and alongside the many tasty recipes, it also covers the ethical side of veganism.
Although being vegan is mostly associated with being healthy, vegan junk food is still on the rise. So, if cooking from scratch isn’t your thing, you’ll still be able to find a range of foods from burgers to ready meals and pizzas, at your local supermarket.
Along with big names like Linda McCartney, Quorn and GoodFellas, you’ll also find a range of supermarket own brand products available, making it easy to find something to suit your taste buds.
Marks and Spencer have seriously upped their game with the Plant Kitchen range, which includes starters, main meals, side dishes and desserts. They even have a chocolate hazelnut spread, which is really addictive! Not to be left behind, Tesco have been growing their Wicked Kitchen range over the past year, and it shows no sign of slowing down. If you’re looking for a healthier choice of quick and easy meals, chances are you’ll find something here.
When I want something quick and easy, my current favourite ready meal, are these stirfry’s from Lazy Vegan. They’re frozen vegetables with a meat substitute, that you just stick in wok or frying pan for 10-minutes. Not only are they a healthier choice, they also contain a whopping 27g of protein! I also throw in some extra edamame beans for an extra boost.
Last year, Asda even introduced vegan pizzas at their pizza counter and they’re really tasty. You may need to call ahead first to check they have the vegan cheese, as not all Asda’s stock it. Sometimes, if our local Asda doesn’t have it available, we’ll just order a pizza without cheese then buy some Violife to put on it when we get home.
Ask me to cook and you’ll quickly see me dial my local takeaway – but I’ll happily stand in the kitchen and bake. All. Day. Long. My favourite book is Ms. Cupcake; the recipes are simple and easy to follow. Many people think you can’t bake without using milk or eggs, but this book will prove otherwise.
Head straight to the red velvet cupcakes and I dare you not to swoon once you’ve tried one.
Milk and Dairy
There are so many plant-based milks to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Soya, almond, hemp, rice, cashew, pea – take your pick. This really is a personal preference. If you’re looking for something creamier, try cashew, soya or coconut milk. If you’re concerned about getting enough protein, try pea, soya, oat or hemp milk.
I wrote a blog post last year about finding the perfect vegan cheese. At the time, my favourite was Cheezly. At the moment, my favourite is Violife – which I think is what Pizza Hut use on their vegan pizzas. Again, you’ll find an array of different makes, from big names to supermarket own brands. Some are really strong, like Sainsbury’s – I actually wretched when I tried theirs. It was not good. But, if you like a really strong tasting, whiffy cheese – perhaps this is the one for you!
The most common meat alternative is tofu and cooked correctly, it’s really nice. Remember that tofu is tasteless, so you’ll need to marinate it or add some flavour. Sometimes all you need is a bit of salt and pepper. Tempeh and seitan are also used as meat substitutes.
Please note that seitan is made from wheat gluten, so if you have an intolerance or allergy to either, you should steer clear of it.
Tofu, seitan and tempeh are also good sources of protein, with tempeh being the highest.
Vegan options in restaurants have come a long way over the past few years. And some places like Zizzi, even have a separate vegan menu. The problem is no longer wondering where you can eat, but rather trying to choose where you would like to eat.
With restaurants like Wagamama, Zizzi, Prezzo and Tampopo all offering vegan options, it’s easier than ever before to eat out. Not wanting to be left out, Pizza Hut and Pizza Express also offer vegan options. Pizza Hut used to only offer the vegan cheese through their restaurants, not a dedicated take-away – I’m unsure if this is still the case.
Even places like Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Pret A Manger are getting in on the action. With a range of vegan wraps and desserts now available, you can grab yourself a quick bite to eat or a snack, while you chill out and have a coffee.
Last year, Papa John’s even jumped on the bandwagon and started offering vegan options. Although they’re takeaway only, I thought they deserved a mention. Since we discovered their pizza’s, they’ve become a regular at chez Roberts on a Saturday night.
Ah yes, the age-old question that everyone wants to know. The one thing that no-one gives a shit about until you mention you follow a vegan diet. Where do you get your protein from?
Getting enough protein on a vegan diet isn’t a problem. I even wrote a blog post about it here. But in short, you can get protein from grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Sources include, tofu, quinoa, rice, peanut butter, peas, kale, spinach and broccoli.
If you are joining in with Veganuary or thinking of switching to a vegan diet in general, don’t forget you’ll need a vitamin B12 supplement.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat (animals’ digestive tracts), soil and bacteria that lives in water. And since most people don’t eat unwashed vegetables or drink from streams anymore, the only way vegans can get vitamin B12 is through supplements, fortified foods like cereals, or plant-based milks with added B12.
And before anyone starts whining on about vegans being deficient in certain vitamins, please remember that no diet is perfect. No diet can provide you with everything you need. Think of all the people you know who take a multi-vitamin, an iron tablet, a vitamin C tablet or a vitamin D supplement.
People supplement in every diet.
If you want to take things one step further and try going cruelty free for Veganuary as well, there’s a massive choice of make-up and skincare products you can choose from.
Superdrug’s own brand products are cruelty free and (mostly) vegan – something I don’t think they advertise enough. Although, if I’m being honest my new favourite moisturiser is Dirty Works 8-in-1 Miracle Cream. You’re probably already familiar with Lush, who also have a range of vegan products available. I’ve recently switched to their shampoo and conditioner bars, because I’m also trying to cut down on my packaging.
Make-up wise, you can choose from cheaper brands like, BarryM, GOSH, B Cosmetics, ELF and The Bodyshop, right through to premium brands like Liz Earle, Inika or Urban Decay.
Please note that some brands are not completely vegan but will have a list of their vegan products available on their website. GOSH state which products are vegan on their make-up stands which is helpful. I love their Blown Away mascara.
For perfume, head over to Eden Perfumes. I discovered them a couple of years ago at The Northern Vegan Festival and now I order from them regularly. They even do a matching service, where you type in the name of your favourite perfume, and they’ll provide you with a list of vegan alternatives. My current favourite is No. 483, which smells like Jo Malone. People comment on it all the time, about how good it smells.
The Vegan Kind
And last but by no means least, visit The Vegan Kind online supermarket for pretty much anything else you can think of – including doughnuts – and they do subscription boxes! So, if you’re interested in discovering new vegan foods and beauty products, get yourself signed up to one. I subscribe to their lifestyle box and it’s like having a birthday every month!
Whether you’re joining in with Veganuary or looking to switch to a full vegan diet, I hope this post has been helpful. It’s not as difficult or as scary as you first think, and with a bit of forward planning you shouldn’t have any problems.
Remember, most foods can be substituted these days and whether you’re eating out or cooking at home, you’ll easily find a variety of foods to suit your taste buds.
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions you might have!