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Top 10 tips to get through Veganuary

Have you decided to join the Veganuary revolution as your 2021 new year’s resolution? Check out our 10 top tips to get through the month.

This year, many thousand Brits are expected to have plucked up their courage this month to join (or at least try) the vegan movement. 

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people to try being vegan during January and even beyond. Last year, over half of a million people took on the challenge to convert to a vegan diet, involving 209 countries and territories. More than 825 new vegan products and menus were launched for Veganuary 2021, and the campaign featured in 1,500 media stories.  

Undoubtedly, veganism has now become a lot easier and more mainstream. But many of us still feel quite fazed on how best to approach this challenge. So, we've come up with some tips to ensure you feel best equipped for a very successful and enjoyable Veganuary. 

1. Know what you can and can’t eat

As obvious as it sounds, knowing what you can and can't eat cannot be overemphasised. If overlooked, it, of course, defeats what Veganuary is about! 

Being vegan means you don't eat anything that comes from an animal, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, sauces and broths made from bones, honey, foods containing gelatine, such as jelly and marshmallows.  

However, there are plenty of exciting plant-based options for you to explore. 

Vegan options: 

  • Fruit and vegetables 
  • Grains (bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth) 
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, soy) 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Oils (olive, rapeseed, avocado etc) 
  • Meat substitute foods (e.g. Quorn, tofu, tempeh.) 
  • 2. Don’t let your diet restrict you

Focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat. There are over 2,000 plant foods but by far much fewer different types of meat and fish.  

Enjoy experimenting with all the different flavours and textures that various plant foods can offer. If you love cream and cheese, don’t feel you have to leave it out. There are lots of decent plant-based alternatives available in most supermarkets.  

If you wish, you can try making your vegan cream cheese at home by blending cashew nuts/ cashew butter with lemon juice and nutritional yeast, and there are so many different recipes available out there. Keep experimenting until you find the recipe that suitably indulges your palate. 

If you have any favourite meat recipes, don’t be afraid to craft them to make them entirely plant-based. Jackfruit, beans, tofu and tempeh are just a few great examples you can use instead of meat. Most meat recipes have a plant-based hack. The ragu sauce for spaghetti Bolognese and lasagne is one perfect example as all the flavour comes from the rich herby tomatoey sauce. You can always still use your favourite recipe for this but swap out the meat for lentils whilst adding more veg such as carrots, celery and courgettes for a nice crunch. 

Don’t let your vegan diet dictate your social life. Restaurants are increasingly more vegan savvy, and most chains have a few vegan options on the menu. If your options are limited, do not be afraid to ask if they can make any simple changes to existing dishes to make them vegan.  

You may well find yourself in social situations where saboteurs offer tempting cakes and biscuits. Try and anticipate these situations ahead of the occasion. Come armoured with your vegan alternatives to snack on instead. Even better, offer them in return to inspire their palates.  

If you have a sweet tooth the Deliciously Ella vegan chocolate balls, cookies, and cakes are most indulgent. You can even access some of these recipes on her YouTube channel. 

3. Don’t be tempted to live off crisps and chips!

Admittedly, it can be all too easy to succumb to a carbs binge in response to going cold turkey from meat and dairy! If you have decided to go plant-based for health benefits, you don’t want to defeat the whole point of doing this.  

Always opt for a variety of plant-based whole food on your plate rather than going for processed foods, which often have lots of added harmful fats, sugars, salt and chemical preservatives. Get into the habit of conscientiously studying food labels and avoid food products with these added ingredients and unrecognisable chemicals. 

4. Make sure you get your daily nutrients

If you eat a variety of plant foods, you can get your vital nutrients. Try to make sure you're getting enough of the following nutrients.  

Protein - Great plant sources of protein include legumes, nuts, whole grains and meat substitute options such as tofu and tempeh. 

Iron - Pulses, dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach), nuts, dried fruit and wholemeal bread/ flour are decent plant-based sources. Vitamin C can help increase iron absorption, and some people do find having a glass of fresh orange juice can be helpful. 

Calcium - Great plant sources include green leafy veg, watercress, fortified plant milk& tofu. 

Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 supports a healthy nervous system and red blood cell production from the bone marrow. As it is only found naturally in food from animal sources, it can be difficult for vegans to get enough of it in their diets. Therefore, it may be worthwhile considering supplements. Modest amounts of vitamin B12 are in vegan sources such as yeast extract (e.g. Marmite), nutritional yeast and fortified foods such as plant-based milk, tofu and cereals. 

Omega 3 - is known to be beneficial for a healthy heart and arteries. Good plant sources include walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, rapeseed and linseed oils, and soy foods (like tofu). 

Vitamin D - Vitamin D supports bone health. A vitamin D deficiency can also cause reduced immunity, low energy levels, and muscle aches.  

The best source of vitamin D is through sun exposure, which is not that great in the UK. That's why both vegans and non-vegans are prone to vitamin D deficiency. Midday sun exposure for 15-20 mins outside the winter months can suffice, but otherwise, Brits need to rely on daily vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D can also be found in small amounts in mushrooms. 

Iodine - Iodine supports the production of your thyroid hormones. Seaweed is a good plant source. There are a few plant-based fortified kinds of milk, and you should look for potassium iodide in the ingredients list. 

5. Try not to think of vegan products as alternatives to animal products

Your vegan diet will be a lot more enjoyable as soon as you accept you don’t need to have fake versions of foods in your diet. The best way is to judge plant-based alternatives such as milk on their individual qualities rather than how closely they taste to their animal-based counterparts. Accept that almond milk will never taste like cow’s milk, but it can certainly enhance the flavour of your coffee. 

6. Appreciate that vegan food doesn’t have to be expensive

There is, unfortunately, a widely accepted belief that veganism is only for people who have lots of money who can afford to buy specialist fine ingredients and exotic fruit and veg from health food shops and posh supermarkets.  

Almost all supermarket chains, including the budget ones, have a great range of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and store cupboard staples such as tinned tomatoes, beans, lentils, pasta, rice, and grains.  

You can keep your costs down by going for seasonal and local produce when it comes to stocking up on fruit and vegetables. If you stick to this more frugal approach on your vegan shopping list, you may well find yourself spending even less than before. 

7. Keep your meals convenient with “fast” vegan food

So, this does not mean grabbing some fries from your local fast-food joint. After a long day at work, many of us would dread the thought of slaving away in the kitchen to cook dinner from scratch. Fortunately, there are options to ensure you can have homecooked vegan food fast.  

Stir-fries are great as they can be easily be prepared in under ten minutes. If you are feeling super lazy, you can always use the bags of pre-chopped stir fry vegetables from your supermarket.  

You can try experimenting with simple one-pot vegan cooking recipes (which also save washing-up time). Most of these dishes can be prepped in advance and kept in the fridge or freezer to be eaten later. 

Vegan Bolognese, chickpea curry and bean chilli are just a few good examples that can be made in less than 20 mins and kept well in the fridge or freezer. 

8. Plan ahead with shopping and cooking

Good planning will help you get the most out of your vegan diet, saving you time and money. Before you do your weekly shop, plan what you're going to eat during the week, jotting down all the ingredients you need to stock up on. 

9. Keep motivated and inspired

You really can keep motivated by enjoying the process of doing your research. There are so many great documentaries online and on Netflix to suit everyone. Some well-known examples include Cowspiracy, Land of Hope and Glory, Game Changers, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated.  

Nutrition facts by Dr Greger and his books, how not to die and how not to diet have attracted a lot of interest in plant-based enthusiasts.  

Plant-based news is a globally renowned online platform. These examples are only a few of many great resources available out there. There are also countless vegan accounts on Instagram and Pinterest for even more inspiration, and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to decent vegan recipe books. 

10. Tell everyone

Don’t be shy to tell all your family, friends and work colleagues that you’re embarking on this challenge and even ask if they wish to join. If they are reluctant, ask for their moral support.  

It's so much easier to keep on track when you're surrounded by people who are understanding, and it also helps keep you accountable whenever you are tempted by that cheesecake or bacon sandwich! 

If you are taking part in Veganuary this year and want to see the benefit of a meat-free month, our Nutrition Blood Test is the perfect test to make sure that your body is getting the important vitamins and minerals it needs for health and well-being.

Veganalysis 2021

Find out how the health of our vegan customers weighed up against the health of our non-vegan customers in our 2021 veganalysis.


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