A BRAVE NEW WORLD: A comprehensive guide to smash Veganuary
Updated: Jan 2
The first week of Veganuary can be a daunting and uncomfortable experience, especially since many of us are currently stuck at home and are unable to dash out to our favourite restaurants and cafés. To assist you along your journey in these weird circumstances, we’ve consulted several plant-based pros - with over 25 years of cumulative experience - for their top tips to make this 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 year.
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 instead (see recipe here). Fancy a chicken korma? Just sub out the chicken with cauliflower (see recipe here). Eating familiar food should have a less drastic change to your body, and will save you from worrying about fermenting durian kombucha for your breakfast oatmeal super juice.
2) Find a balance between processed substitutes and whole foods
Let's talk faux, fakes, substitutes, and meat replacements. Pre-Covid, I was often guilty of picking-up a vegan sausage roll when out and about, and I still enjoy trying out the latest vegan products to hit the supermarket shelves. However, replacing every meal with a branded imitation meat or cheese is going to hit your wallet, and will sometimes lead to disappointment. Instead, why not browse some of our recipes? We promise they can be even simpler, tastier and not to mention healthier than trying to find a way to sneak a Linda McCartney sausage 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 kitchen by trying-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 natural food store. If you consider yourself a tea or coffee connoisseur, try reaching past the almond and soy milk on the shelves: rice, oat, hemp and tiger nut await you my son.
For added inspiration, fill your instagram/facebook feeds with anything and everything vegan. Join Facebook groups like Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes for Beginners for easy-to-follow recipes, supermarket deals which will blow your socks off, and tips and tricks of the trade.
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. Don't get caught up on protein either, just check out our blog on the topic. 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
Unless you live in the Shangri-La that is the Isles of Scilly, chances are you will be spending plenty of time this month at home. Nevertheless, its always a good idea to box up your leftovers and take them with you if you are still traveling into work or perhaps going on long walks to avoid the oppressive clutches of Zoom. Sourcing vegan food when out and about can sometimes be tricky, especially if you live in more rural areas, so a bit of light forward thinking can keep you well-fed, and you KNOW your meal is going to be both delicious and nutritious.
Most importantly, prepare to slip up occasionally. It can be incredibly difficult sticking to a strict plant-based diet, so its important not to give up or beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. After all, all vegans accidentally eat a cracker containing pesky milk powder at some point along their journey. 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 a 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.co.uk and we’ll try to help you out!
Special thanks to Wendela Rang (@wendysmunch), Sourouthi Navalan, and Adam Radcliffe (@adamradclifts) for their help with this article.
Cover photo taken at Boma Garden Centre in Kentish Town.
Blog originally published on the 04/01/20.