As we say goodbye to 2020, many lessons have been learned. A deeper desire to protect the planet has been instilled in many of us this year – and we’re ready to make changes to our own life to make a change happen in the world.
The coronavirus pandemic – which is believed to have originated in a Chinese market where animals were sold for consumption – has prompted more people around the world to turn to a vegan lifestyle. In the wake of realising how our exploitation of other animals affects not only those animals, but our environment and ourselves, foodies all over the globe are swapping beef for beans.
As a result, Veganuary – the charity that helps you go vegan for the month of January – are seeing a record increase in numbers of people who want to try living plant-based for a month: over 500,000 people will ditch meat and dairy in January 2021.
If you’re one of those people, now might be the time when you’re sitting in your kitchen, staring into your cheese-less fridge, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. After all, 2020 was hard enough, now you have to learn to cook tofu, too? But fret not: it has never been easier – or tastier – to be vegan. Supermarket shelves are full of enticing plant-based options, while your local restaurant is likely to have a vegan menu by now (make that a takeaway, in these lockdown times). And if you’re interested in taking vegan living beyond food, shopping for vegan beauty is ridiculously simple these days, too.
Read on for a few tips from a seasoned vegan (spoiler: me) and some expert input on how to make Veganuary the best it can be.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Going vegan is not just about removing the meat and dairy. It’s also about adding tasty new things: seitan, tempeh, a variety of beans and lentils, a whole rainbow of fruit and vegetables, and so much more. Use this month as an occasion to be creative, both with your cooking (yeah, you’ll need to learn some of that. But chances are you’ll be amazed at how easy it is and how delicious the results turn out) and your takeaway options.
Read up on food basics.
You don’t have to become a bona fide plant-based nutrition expert, but you do want to be equipped with a response to the “but where will you get your protein?” questions (cue eye roll). So get clued up. Veganuary themselves have a page full of nutritional tips, and the Vegan Society can offer a wealth of knowledge on the topic. Make those your new nutrition bibles, and find out just where you can get your protein (hint: it’s unbelievably easy), not to mention your iron, calcium, and omega-3.
Explore simple substitutions.
“You don’t have to suddenly overhaul your eating regime and start living on kale and quinoa,” says Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications and Marketing at Veganuary. “Try building in simple substitutions like plant milk instead of cows’ milk or having dairy-free yoghurt with your breakfast. You can also veganise your favourite recipes quite easily as there are animal-free meats, fish, cheeses, mayonnaise, creams and other products readily available. You can be certain there is a vegan recipe for whatever you want!
And finally, take a trip down the chiller and freezer aisles in the supermarket – the huge range of vegan options available will certainly surprise you. Or linger amongst the fresh produce and pick up something new to try. Be adventurous and see where some vegan-dabbling might lead you.”
Related Post: 10 Easy Plant-Based Meal Ideas If You’re Doing Veganuary
Life as a vegan will be a breeze with a whole gang of allies at your fingertips, and today, with access to the whole world via social media, finding your tribe is simple. Join a vegan group on Facebook such as Plant Based & Vegan Recipes For Beginners and Vegan For Beginners to
follow vegans on Instagram. You’ll feel supported on your journey, and have someone to ask burning questions such as “what does ‘may contain traces of milk’ really mean?”
Give your beauty routine a vegan-over.
If you find yourself shopping for beauty products during your vegan month, why not stay on topic and replace your old beauty products with a new vegan addition? Vegan makeup influencer Nicole Whittle, also known as Vegan Beauty Girl, is offering a Vegan Beauty Challenge for the month of January, where she offers tips and advice on shopping cruelty-free (and explains what cruelty-free means!). You don’t have to throw out your entire beauty cabinet this January – in fact you shouldn’t – but if you’re in need of a replacement, this could be a great opportunity to get acquainted with vegan beauty.
Don’t stress over slip-ups.
Any lifestyle change will be a transition, not a spotless overnight success. Being vegan isn’t about being perfectly pure yourself, without even a tiny particle of animal products ever passing your lips – it’s about doing your best to avoid contributing to animal suffering where practicable and possible. So if you accidentally happen to eat something that contains animal-derived ingredients, don’t beat yourself up – it’s happened to most vegans. And no, eating a cookie that you later find out had egg white in it doesn’t mean that you’re “no longer vegan”. The best thing you can do is return to your Veganuary ways and go back to making compassionate choices – only now, you’re equipped with additional information, which can only be a good thing.
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Cover image of plant-based corn chowder courtesy of Fry’s Family Food.