A BRAVE NEW WORLD: A comprehensive guide to smash Veganuary
Updated: Jan 5
The first week of Veganuary can be a daunting and uncomfortable experience, as starting any new diet inevitably is. To assist you along your journey, we’ve consulted a host of plant-based eaters - with over 20 years of cumulative experience - for their top tips to make Veganuary as easy as lentil and spinach pie.
From meal prepping and nutrition, to de-escalation tactics if confronted by Piers Morgan, here’s our top advice for those wanting to drop animal products for the start of the new decade.
1) Don't shock your system and try to become a vegan health freak over night
99% of plant based eaters don't survive on kale smoothies and apple cider vinegar squash. Instead, start by choosing one of your favourite meals and substituting out the meat. Love a Spag bol? Make it as usual but with soya mince (spaghetti soyanese). This will be a less drastic change to your body, and you don't need to spend so much time worrying about your fermenting durian kumbucha oatmeal super juice for breakfast.
2) Find a balance between processed substitutes and whole foods
Faux, subs, and replacements can be amazing. I am regularly guilty of picking up a vegan sausage-roll when out and about. On top of this, there is a whole multitude of new products available this month, and it’s great fun trying them out. However, replacing every meal with a branded imitation meat or cheese is going to hit your wallet, and (sometimes) lead to disappointment. Instead, why not try making some of our recipes? We promise they can be even simpler and tastier than trying to find a way to sneak sneak lindas into every meal or work out how to pronounce 'quorn'. Try our refried beans or dahl for super easy whole food dishes.
3) Have fun, be adventurous and stay safe
Cooking plant-based meals is a great excuse to be a little more experimental in the bedroom kitchen. Try-out ingredients you’ve never heard of, like aquafaba, jackfruit and nutritional yeast . Enjoy getting lost down the quieter aisles of your nearest Sainsbury’s superstore or venturing into your local corner store/natural food store. Fill your instagram/facebook feeds with anything vegan. There are so many great plant-based accounts you can follow for recipes, supermarket finds and inspiration. If you consider yourself a tea or coffee connoisseur, which if you are British you definitely do, try reaching past the almond milk on the shelves: rice, oat, hemp, soya await you my son.
When it comes to nutrition, do not fret! Iron (dark leafy greens, lentils, beans), calcium (dark leafy greens, tofu, fortified non-dairy milks, fortified cereals) and B12 (nutritional yeast, fortified cereals) are all easy and straightforward to obtain from a complete plant-based diet. If you are extra concerned, invest in some supplements (Boots is your go-to), and if you are still concerned, consult a medical professional for advice. Most important of all, pay attention to how you feel.
4) Prepare for picnics, not for perfection
Box up your leftovers and take them out and about with you. Depending on where you are (i.e not urban areas), sourcing vegan lunch can be difficult and sometimes unsatisfactory. A bit of light forward thinking can keep you well-fed, and you KNOW your meal is going to be both delicious and nutritious.
If you are attending a social event, where you suspect vegan options will be limited if not non-existent, bring some tasty plant-based food with you. Make sure you bring a lil bit extra, so others (non-vegans) can try and marvel at how good it is. This is an effective way to get skeptics onboard with your plant-based journey.
Prepare to slip up occasionally. It can be incredibly difficult sticking to a strict plant-based diet, so it is important not to give up or beat yourself up when you inevitably fall of the wagon. After all, everyone accidentally eats a cracker containing milk powder at some point along their journey. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Remember, every positive aspect of a plant-based lifestyle is on a spectrum, where doing something is always better than doing nothing.
5) "SALAD IN A PASTY!? YOU FILTHY PERVERT"
When following a plant-based diet people suddenly become very interested in what you’re eating. Hopefully you’ll receive lots of support, but be prepared for the occasion raised-eyebrow at the Sunday family dinner or even negative comment from a colleague, friend or Piers Morgan. Rather than become disillusioned or angry, engage with that person in a respectful, constructive conversation! Remember, veganism will always have its critics, and you can’t convince everyone. Once you have accepted this fact, you’ll be much happier for the rest of the month.
Final reminder, a healthy planet and body is for life, not just for January.
Goodluck! Hopefully these tips will help you out, if you have any questions please dm us @greensandbeans.uk and we’ll try to help you out!
Special thanks to Wendela Rang, Sourouthi Navalan, and Adam Radcliffe (@adamradclifts) for their help with this article.