Veganuary 2021 is shaping up to be the biggest yet – and with good reason. Throughout 2020, environmental issues have stared us in the face and we have become increasingly aware of our individual roles in the climate change process. COVID-19 lockdown has inspired diet overhauls for many of us, resulting in a third of people in the UK eating more vegan food.
So, well done if you’ve signed up. If you haven't but would like to, you still can right now on the Veganuary website. We know that the task can look daunting, especially if you’ve never really dabbled in a plant-based diet before. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you make it all the way through January and feel like a champion at the end.
- Plan ahead
You know what they say – fail to plan and plan to fail! Make sure you have plenty of food options available for every eventuality. Stock up on your snacks and make sure you’ve got enough in your fridge or your lunch bag to keep you going all day. Stocking up with Moo Free vegan chocolate goes without saying! Nothing will make you fall off the wagon faster than being starving and having no vegan options to hand.
- Don’t buy loads of stuff you haven’t tried before
As with all foods, not all vegan food is… well, very nice. Some of it is nice in its own right but if you expect it to taste exactly like your favourite meat or cheese, you may be disappointed. You can go through a lot trials before settling on something you really like. So, don’t be tempted to buy a ton of one brand of vegan cheese, or vegan steak or anything you’re not used to. You may end up hungry, demotivated and wasting lots of food.
- Go easy on the meat substitutes
Speaking of vegan steak, we are so lucky in 2021 that there are more vegan options than ever before. There are vegan burgers, vegan chicken strips, vegan bacon – you get what I’m saying. However, these are often very high in salt and low in nutrition. Just as it’s wise not to go overboard with meat-based processed food, the same applies with vegan food. Remember that vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. So, while these products are lovely to try out and have once in a while, they shouldn’t form the foundation of your diet. Loading up on processed food can also be expensive.
- There’s no need to change everything
Lots of your weekly staples can be adapted to be vegan. There are probably hundreds of vegan pasta recipes. Winter favourites like chilli can be made with green lentils or beans. Pulses are your friend as they are versatile and provide protein. Tofu is also your friend if you’re OK with soya. There are loads of ways to cook it – it doesn’t have to be soggy Spongebob Squarepants – it can be crispy and super-tasty. It is often easier to substitute parts of a meal than to try and re-invent the wheel.
- Keep yourself motivated by joining groups and forums
There are tons of other forums and groups you can join. We haven’t recommended any because how deeply you want to dive into the vegan world is up to you. Some are more lightweight while some are very activist-driven. However, immersing yourself in communities of people who are on the same journey will provide you with support and information - and also renew your enthusiasm if it starts to wane.
You could also share your journey on your own social media.
- Get your partner and/or kids involved (or anyone you share your house with).
Do you share a house with other people? They might not want to go the whole plant-based hog with you but you can get them involved anyway. This will help keep you on the straight and narrow and could be fun. Get them to try out things that you cook or new desserts that you buy. Have a break from the January gloom by having a little vegan dinner party. Cook a three-course vegan meal with vegan desserts, vegan wine or fancy non-alcoholic drinks– the whole works!
- Plan a celebration
31st January? Made it? Well done, you! Time to make a big show of how amazing you are. Write about it, share it on social. Have drinks! Zoom your friends! Have a virtual party. Plan it and give yourself something to look forward to. Tell people about it in advance and if you feel your attention start to wander towards that big piece of brie in Tesco, make another plan for your celebration. Celebrations this January won’t be quite what they could be any other year but we’ve all become quite innovative with our celebrations.
This list should help you on your way but there is so much other information “out there” that you shouldn’t ever feel lacking in information, advice or support. Being vegan in 2021 is easier and more accessible than it’s ever been. However, that doesn’t mean the challenge should be taken lightly. It’s still a big change and you should feel proud for rising to that challenge. Keep reminding yourself of the reasons why you decided to do this.