The start of new year means another Veganuary challenge month has arrived! Veganuary is a campaign to encourage people to try being vegan for the month of January. I am not a vegan, but I do love eating a real mixture of food, including many vegan dishes and vegan swaps I’ve adopted after discovering them through participating in Veganuary!
Here are my top tips for Veganuary or simply a switch to more vegan meals and habits as part of your lifestyle.
Set yourself an achievable goal
Personally switching to a whole month of a vegan lifestyle would be way too daunting and not achievable. Therefore I set myself a manageable goal, which helps me to feel motivated and more likely to succeed in my changes – they are also more maintainable to keep with me beyond the month of January. I have opted to do 2 days a week eating vegan dishes, and on other days to do what I can to consume Vegan meals. This often adds up to 4 days a week (counting 3 meals a day).
If you are considering joining in with Veganuary, don’t be disheartened if you have a slip (accidental or not!), any changes and attempts to eat a varied diet including more plant based meals is beneficial to yourself and world.
There are increasingly more and more vegan friendly products available at all supermarkets – which means you should be able to easily find ingredients and items for Veganuary where you normally shop. Each supermarket has their own ranges and there are many exclusivity deals in place for some big brand items; this does mean you may want to shop around to try different items or seek out that one product that you fall in love with.
You will also be surprised with how many of your normal everyday items are vegan friendly (and some that aren’t!) I’d recommend looking online at some ‘accidentally vegan’ blogs and social media accounts – you will be shocked by some of them! I follow Accidentally Vegan on Instagram which is a great source of inspiration for shopping. I also use the JollyGut app to check if items are vegan friendly. The app is great as you can filter based on dietary needs, and supermarket or simply scan a barcode/item in store for a check on it’s nutritional value, budget, meeting needs and alternative swaps!
Plant Milks, Creams, Yogurts & Spreads
There are an array of plant milks available, it’s actually almost overwhelming with how many there are to choose from now! As there is such a range it will largely fall to personal preference which one you end up liking and also what you are using the milk for. For example there are several ‘barista’ blends in stores which are designed specifically to be used in hot drinks without curdling or giving the drink a flavour (unless that is what you are after!). My preference has been for Alpro Soya Light or Oatly Barista as an good all around milk replacement, and I really like using unsweetened almond milk (Alpro or Blue Diamond) for baking, overnight oats, cereals etc as it also imparts some flavour!
Alpro soya cream has been a big switch I’ve made. I really cannot taste any difference and the smaller, resealable cartons that don’t need to be in the fridge until open are a much better store cupboard item to me than normal dairy cream!
The same goes for vegan friendly yogurts and spreads. The Alpro yogurt range has a huge spectrum of flavours, Koko coconut yogurts have a great coconut base and one of my favourites The Collective now also do a plant based selection of my favourite flavours!
Dairy free & vegan friendly spreads are also growing in options, and I often select whatever is on offer at the time as they are easily available in supermarkets. My favourites are Pure Dairy Free and Vitalite.
As Veganuary follows just on from Christmas you may still be in a cheese coma and not miss this item in your meal plan, however I know cheese can be a tricky area for many to comprehend losing. I’ve noticed that the cheese vegan alternatives have grown in varieties and also quality over the past few years. Violife has been one of the brands I’ve tried over the years and have found it in many supermarkets. Their vegan prosociano is a great replacement for parmesan and they have replacements for feta, mozzarella and even camembert!
I love baking and brunch, so missing eggs out of my diet is something I struggle with! For baking I have been able to use chia ‘eggs’ which are made of 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 2.5 Tablespoons of water to make 1 ‘egg’. You can also do this with flaxseed in the same weightings. These aren’t identical replacements, so will not work in all baking, as it doesn’t stiffen the same as eggs would in the baking process. For brunches, scrambled tofu is an option to replicate scrambled eggs. I have tried this but wasn’t a fan, so continue to look for ways to replace them in recipes.
Ready Meals & Quick Cooking
If you aren’t wanting to cook every day of Veganuary there are several ready meal options on the market. In grocery stores you can find lots of delicious ready meals and vegan friendly freezer food options which make eating vegan super quick and easy. M&S have a good range of easy cook options in the Plant kitchen range. Waitrose has a good range of options like banana blossom ‘fish’ fingers and I really enjoy the Shroomdogs from Sainsburys range.
There are also brands that provide quick, simple and delicious options for vegan meals or as replacements in your normal diet. Linda McCartney has a substantial range and Heck Food do a fantastic range of plant based sausages and burgers that I highly recommend and lots of my meat eating friends have enjoyed eating both. Quorn is a great replacement for many meals, and often indistinguishable to most eaters from the meat versions. (Do check that the Quorn you get is vegan, as some is not!)
There also fantastic options on many home dining kits that you can try. Many of these have rotating menus, like Gousto so you can vary this up each week. All plants and Mindful chef are meant to be fantastic for vegan options, but I am yet to try them.
Eating out with a vegan lifestyle is very rarely an issue nowadays. Most high street chains have vegan dishes, and more than just one option on the menu for you to choose from. My friend Curious Claire has a fabulous post on Vegan Friendly Chain Restaurants to try in the UK that is a great reference! Even restaurants that are synonymous with meat (like KFC, GBK, Nandos etc) have wonderful vegan options on their menus. During Veganuary there are often some fun specials to try as well!
If you are looking for a quick bite for lunch high street coffee stores have increased their selections as well. Pret and Costa have a good selection, whilst Starbucks and Caffe Nero have fewer options that I’ve found. M&S also have a good selection of Plant Kitchen takeaway options, as do Waitrose in their Food to Go section.
I hope this information helps you should you wish to join in with Veganuary and beyond! Let me know of any recommendations for products you discover by tagging @agirlandherappetite on Instagram or comment below!!