Simple Tips and Advice for Joining in with Veganuary was originally published in January 2019 and updated in January 2022.
Whether it’s for health reasons or ethical reasons, Veganuary is getting more and more attention each year. In 2021 580,000+ people signed up for Veganuary, which is double the number of people who signed up in 2019. Veganuary is a fantastic way to learn more about the positive impact and benefits a vegan lifestyle can have.
In 2020 the number of people identifying as vegan increased by 40%, making approximately 1.1 million people in the UK vegan. As positive as those numbers sound, I’m not sure how the data was recorded. Oftentimes the terms plant-based and vegan are used interchangeably, although there is a distinct difference between the two. Regardless of the actual numbers, any reduction in meat consumption is always positive. It’s safe to say veganism is still on the rise and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
People are now living longer and becoming more aware of the ethical implications of their diet. We don’t need to use animals as commodities, we can get all the nutrients we need from a plant-based diet. Yes, even protein! A plant-based diet can prevent many diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In some cases, it’s been shown to reverse some illnesses. It’s not just the health side of things that a plant-based diet is good for, it’s the environmental impact too. The repercussions of eating a meat-based diet are huge, as we’ve seen with the unpredictable weather the world has been experiencing.
Whatever your reasons for joining Veganuary, I applaud you for taking the steps to join in with the challenge. 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. Veganuary have many recipes available to try too.
I have a substantial selection of vegan cookbooks, including the BOSH! series. Although the BOSH! boys have a few different titles now available, Healthy Vegan is the one I mainly use. Most of their recipes are straight forward and easy to follow, although a few can be time-consuming. They also have a YouTube channel and an Instagram feed.
One of my other favourite books is The Plant Power Doctor, by Dr Gemma Newman. The first part of the book talks about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, which is very informative. The second part of the book consists of recipes, including a tasty fruit cobbler which I recommend trying!
If you lead an active lifestyle try Thrive by Brendan Brazier or Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. Thrive has a variety of before, during, and after training snacks and smoothies, along with a full meal plan to follow. Finding Ultra is an inspirational read about how Rich turned his life around. He went from a junk food eating, alcoholic lawyer, to a plant-based ultra runner, and he includes an impressive list of resources at the end of the book. I’m a runner, so I love both of these books.
There are many Instagram feeds to look at for inspiration, including the Avant-Garde Vegan by Gaz Oakley.
Aside from cook books there are also many Vegan magazines available, with Vegan Life being one of the most popular. As the title suggests, it isn’t just about cooking. Alongside the many recipes, it also covers the ethical side of veganism.
Although being vegan is mostly associated with being healthy, vegan junk food has been on the rise for several years. So, if cooking from scratch isn’t your thing, you’ll still be able to pick up burgers, ready meals, and pizzas, at your local supermarket.
Along with big names like Linda McCartney, Quorn and GoodFellas, you’ll find their own brand products available too. It’s easier than ever 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. Ready meals aren’t my thing, but occasionally I’ll pick up their Sweet N Sour No Chicken. If I want something to add to a cheeky weekend pizza, their Cauliflower Popcorn sometimes falls into my basket. Not to be left behind, Tesco have been growing their Wicked Kitchen range over the past couple of years, 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.
Although Asda’s plant-based range has increased – it’s my least favourite. They have a range of ready meals and frozen foods, and you can get vegan pizza from their pizza counter. You may need to call ahead first to check they have the vegan cheese, as not all Asda’s stock it.
Many supermarkets, including Aldi, join in with Veganuary, expanding their range for the month of January.
Ask me to cook and you’ll quickly see me dial my local Indian takeaway. But I’ll happily stand in the kitchen and bake. All. Day. Long. My favourite book for a long time was 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.
My favourite dessert to make over the last 12-months has been the fruit cobbler from The Plant Power Doctor.
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 several years ago about finding the perfect vegan cheese. At the time, my favourite was Cheezly, but then I discovered Violife. I think it’s 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 strong, like Sainsbury’s – I actually heaved 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!
Other popular brands of vegan cheese include VBites, Mozzarisella, and Sheese. As the name suggests, Mozzarisella melts like mozzarella.
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.
Eating Out/Fast Food
Oh, how the world has changed. Many restaurants are open for business, although maybe operating differently regards hours, booking, and social distancing etc. I haven’t been out to eat anywhere since the pandemic started – it’s not something I feel comfortable with. Give me a pair of running trainers or hiking boots any day and get me as far away from anyone else as possible!
Regardless of my personal choices, vegan options in restaurants have come a long way over the past few years. Many even have a separate vegan menu, and some release new dishes for Veganuary.
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. Wagamama have recently made 50% of their menu vegan to help tackle the climate emergency. This is a huge move in the right direction, hopefully other restaurants will take note. Not wanting to be left out, Pizza Hut and Pizza Express also offer vegan options.
Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero, Pret A Manger, Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC are also getting in on the action. With a range of vegan wraps, burgers, and desserts now available, you can grab yourself a quick bite to eat or a snack, while you chill out and have a coffee.
In 2019, Papa John’s also jumped on the bandwagon and started offering vegan options. Although they’re takeaway only, I thought they deserved a mention. When we first discovered their pizza’s, they became a regular at chez Roberts on a Saturday night for many months.
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.
Having said that, even following a meat-based diet doesn’t guarantee you a healthy dose of B12. Soil quality, and how your body processes Vitamin B12 can have an impact on your levels.
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 is cruelty-free and (mostly) vegan, but they sell other named vegan brands too. Moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, fake tan, hair dye, make-up and more; Superdrug is my go-to shop for many products. I use shampoo bars, because I’m also trying to cut down on my packaging. I like to support small business owners too, so I always buy them from Etsy.
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, KVD Vegan Beauty, 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.
My favourite dishwasher tablets and washing liquid brand are Smol. Not only are they vegan friendly, but they arrive in cardboard, meaning the packaging is recyclable. You can sign up to a subscription on their website.
If you want to include household products, have a look at Ecover. They make a range of cleaning products, including washing liquid, dishwasher tablets, bathroom cleaner, softener, and hand sanitiser.
The Vegan Kind
And last but by no means least, visit The Vegan Kind online supermarket for a one-stop vegan shop. They sell pretty much anything you can think of, including food, health and beauty products, and household products. They even do subscription boxes. So, if you’re interested in discovering new vegan foods and beauty products, sign up for one of their boxes.
Although plant-based and vegan are often used interchangeably, there’s a distinct difference between them.
Plant-based is about eating a meat-free diet. Being vegan is a lifestyle. It’s choosing to live a life where animals are not used as commodities. On the Vegan Society website, part of their definition describes it as:
Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.
Veganism is more than not eating animals. It crosses over into every other area of your life. It’s everything from the clothes you wear to the beauty products/toiletries/cleaning products you use. It’s doing everything you can to ensure you live a life, where no animals have been harmed.
Whether you’re just joining in with Veganuary or looking to switch to a fully vegan lifestyle, 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, and whether you’re eating out or cooking at home, you’ll easily find a variety of foods to suit your taste buds.