Ellie Chivers breaks down the best advice for those looking to adopt a plant-based diet
Photo by Edgar Castrejon @edgarraw
Veganuary launched in the UK in 2014, with 3,300 people signing up to a trial of the vegan lifestyle. Four years later, and the phenomenon has grown astronomically; 168,000 people put their names down for the challenge. And if that many people can do it, how hard can it be?
The jump to veganism is big, no matter your current diet, but here are some tips to make the transition a little smoother:
1. Get That Vegan Mindset
The best way to launch yourself into veganism is to stock up, so you’re ready and raring come January 1st. Having noodles, beans, rice, pasta and spices to hand will encourage you to whip up hearty vegan dishes. Additionally, keep reminding yourself why you’re committing to this – it will be demanding, but remember your reasoning.
2. Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Some people can make the transition immediately, but for others, the change will come gradually. Both are completely okay. If the latter applies to you, try cutting out meat in the first week, fish in the second, and dairy in the third. It’s all about going at your own pace, and what will encourage the lifestyle to stick.
3. Friends and Communities
If you have a friend who’s happy to help out, that’s great! Having a cooking buddy will inject some fun, as well as having someone to share ideas with. Failing that, there are many vegan communities that would be delighted to assist. Whether that’s online, or in a local village hall; just one person, or a big group, having that supportive network will cushion your transition into veganism.
4. Get Creative
A brand-new diet is a fantastic excuse to experiment with dishes. A great way of doing this is through vegan cook books, or online – there are all sorts of recipes targeted at both the competent cooks, or those who can just scrape beans on toast.
5. Give Your Favourites the Vegan Treatment
While it is a thrill to make some impressive new-fangled meals, you may miss some comforts. Why not veganise your favourite foods? Swap the beef patty for beans in your burgers, the chicken pieces for tofu in curries and stir fries, and the cheese for a dairy-free version for pizza. Making these little but impactful changes is a brilliant start.
6. Vegan Meat Substitutes
Look at the back of meat substitute packets – like vegetarian sausages, burgers and pies - some of the brands that make these products are vegan too. Furthermore, you can emulate that perfect BLT with tempeh, and there’s lots of meat dishes that can be veganised with a touch of tofu.
Stripping away the meat and animal by-products takes away some vital protein, essential to build muscle mass and energy. It’s important to replace this with plant-based (much healthier) protein sources. Chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, quinoa – to name a few – all have that much-needed protein content.
8. It’s Alright to Snack
You may find that many vegan meals aren’t as calorific or energising. That means it’s totally okay to snack, especially while your body is detoxing and getting used to the change. Pick up some extra fruit or treat yourself to a scrumptious vegan chocolate bar.
9. Pop To The Vegan Markets
As veganism grows, so do the vegan markets - try out not just vegan food, but also gifts, beauty, skincare and clothes. Visiting a vegan market is a wonderful way of getting inspiration before or during your Veganuary journey. If you can’t find a local vegan market, try local Sunday markets or Christmas markets – many have vegan stalls too.
10. The Lifestyle - Only Swap
If you do fall off the wagon, try and pick yourself up, but don’t pressure yourself into making a full-on commitment if it’s not practical. You can still make a difference by making the change to vegan-only lifestyle habits. These include using vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics, shower products, toothbrushes and clothing brands.
Veganism is a significant and hugely beneficial change in not only a person's diet but for creating a more sustainable cruelty-free future, and Veganuary is a fabulous way to take those first steps.
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