Veganuary is a wonderful time of year. It’s revived January – a month notorious for cold weather and post Christmas misery – by celebrating veganism and challenging people to go vegan for 31 days. Often embraced by those looking to start the New Year with a health kick, it also pushes those who have thought about going vegan for a while to finally take the leap – well at least for a month.
If week 2 of Veganuary is hitting you hard and you need a little extra inspiration, check out our top tips for a successful Veganuary…
Clear out your fridge and cupboard
There’s no point having meat or dairy in your fridge or cupboards, it’ll only remind you of what you can’t have rather than focus on all the exciting foods you could be introducing to your diet. Work on emptying your fridge, freezer, and cupboard of non-vegan foods and give any expiring non-vegan foods to friends, family and/or neighbours.
Get your household involved
You’d be surprised how many people are willing to give Veganuary a go! The remaining days will be a lot more fun with a partner in crime: you can overhaul the whole kitchen, support each other, cook for one another and take advantage of all the Veganuary takeaway and supermarket promotions together. Someone else from your household (or the whole household!) would be ideal, but any friends or family members would work too.
Not only can you share all your discoveries together, but you will have someone to support you and keep you committed.
Make Veganuary Exciting
Find other ways to incorporate veganism into your lifestyle. Why not take a look inside your makeup bag and try to find out which of the brands you use are cruelty-free. There are so many ingredients in makeup and skincare that are derived from animals, taking some time to research this is a great way to spur you on your way for the remaining days of the month.
If you’re shocked by the number of brands that are still not 100% cruelty-free and shifting towards vegan ingredients then it might be time to make a change. The Pip Box is a vegan and cruelty-free subscription box where for just £19.99 a month you can receive 5 new beauty and skincare products every month straight to your doorstep! Making the switch to cruelty-free beauty easier than ever before.
It’s tempting, but please don’t spend the rest of the month rotating between eating takeaways and enjoying vegan ready meals. You’ll come away finding a vegan diet pretty expensive and miss out on the healthy benefits of a balanced, plant-based vegan diet.
If a vegan diet is a total lifestyle flip, follow an online meal plan or cook from a couple of vegan recipes books. These cookbooks are perfect for beginners (whether that’s beginners to cooking or to veganism!):
● One Pot Vegan: 80 Quick, Easy and Delicious Plant-based Recipes by Roxy Pope and Ben Pook
● Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward (though this one is plant based rather than vegan)
● BOSH! Simple Recipes * Amazing Food * All Plants by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby
Learn the Language
There’s a lot of words and phrases that get thrown around with veganism that can confuse newbies. You may be wondering, Is there a difference between plant based and vegan? Do I need to eat gluten-free? What’s ‘cruelty-free’ all about?
Firstly, if a product is vegan it will have been made without any animal derived ingredients. ‘Plant based’ isn’t legally defined, so how it’s used and what it means can vary vastly. Plant based is widely understood as very similar to veganism but more health led than ethically led – so it often focuses more on healthy eating and won’t necessarily avoid honey (which strict vegans do). That being said, ‘plant based’ is often interchangeable with vegan – and is used because it’s more palatable and attractive to non-vegans – but it’s not always one in the same. Basically, it’s a very wishy-washy phrase.It’s always good to double check if something ‘plant based’ is vegan!
Onto all the ‘-free’ phrases. Many people think vegan and ‘gluten-free’ overlap because many free-from products try to cater to both. However, vegans – unless sensitive to gluten- don’t need to worry about eating gluten-free. Gluten is found in the grains wheat, barley and rye – all vegan-friendly products. So gluten or not – it really doesn’t matter.
‘Cruelty-free’ on the other hand, is something that most vegans care about when shopping for beauty products and cleaning products. If something is ‘cruelty-free’ then it is made without animal testing – something importnat to those that have gone vegan with animal kindness in mind. Going vegan and cruelty-free all at once is definitely overwhelming though – most animal lovers focus on one before tackling the other.
Lastly, there’s been the odd time I’ve heard the phrase ‘vegan-free’. This is just a muddle of words to be honest, unless you’re trying to confirm something is free from vegans. But often this comes from someone trying to confirm that something is vegan but doesn’t really know much about veganism at all.
Alcohol is a bit complicated
This one shocks people. Did you know that not all alcohol is suitable for vegans? Sure, milky liqueurs like Baileys spring to mind (though, thank god, they have a vegan alternative!) but many wines and beers are frustratingly not suitable for vegans.
Annoyingly, beer and wine can be processed using animal products such as isinglass, egg whites, or gelatin. Even more frustratingly, these ingredients are rarely listed on the labels, since alcohol is commonly exempt from the labeling requirements of other food products. Fortunately, nearly every brand of hard liquor—bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum—is vegan, with these you just have to look out for dairy or honey which should be on the label.
My best advice for wine and beer? Check your favourite brands on Barnivore, which does an amazing job of maintaining a comprehensive guide to vegan alcohol. Another great discovery is that supermarket own brand alcoholic drinks are actually really good at labelling when vegan, so check these first when you’re doing your weekly shop.
Drinking whilst dining is probably the most difficult it gets. Though some restaurants label their vegan wines (thank you Wagamamas, Pizza Express and Zizzi!) most haven’t a clue that not all alcohol is vegan.
Though this is all good to know and keep in mind, I wouldn’t worry too much about making sure all your alcohol is vegan until you’ve mastered your food. Veganism is a journey, you don’t have to be perfect overnight.
Enjoy Veganuary Specials
I may have warned you not to dine out every night, but definitely take advantage of the myriad of restaurants celebrating Veganuary. Whether it’s special, limited edition vegan dishes or great discounts – there’s plenty to take advantage of exclusively in January. You can find a helpful directory on the Veganuary website of restaurants that offer vegan options.
If you want some really incredible food though, check to see if there’s a vegan or vegetarian restaurant in your area. It’s likely to be the best food you’ll have all month.
Switch Your Socials
You’ll find this month a lot more enjoyable and exciting if you switch your social media feed away from those sharing meaty recipes and instead turn to vegan chefs and local vegan influencers. You can usually find these with ease under your local vegan hashtag – for example, #VeganDublin or #VeganManchester. They’ll be invaluable when it comes to discovering the best your area has to offer.
One of my favourite pages to recommend to new vegans is @accidentallyvegan – an account dedicated to sharing ‘accidentally vegan products’ which you may have assumed weren’t vegan. Like Jammy Dodgers or Bisto’s original gravy. Of course, @weareveganuary will also be super helpful and motivational too.