'Veganuary' is a campaign run by a registered charity which challenges people to go vegan for the month of January (see the charity's website here). As going vegan can be quite a drastic lifestyle change for some, the concept of going vegan can be seen as an unattainable dream (myself included). The thing that makes it so difficult to imagine I think is that it applies to everything we consume, from the food we eat to the skin-care and household products we use.
In the past, I have always been put off of going vegan, mainly because there are things in my diet that I don't think I could give up (I am a massive cheese, and bacon sarnie lover - although there are now vegan options available). I have since watched multiple programs and documentaries on Netflix about the vegan lifestyle and it's benefits which has opened my eyes and made me realise that 1) I care more about animals and the planet than I do having 'real' cheese, and 2) we don't need to label ourselves as 'Vegan', 'Vegetarian' or 'Non-Vegan/Vegetarian' but can just reduce our consumption of meat and dairy products and try to aim for a few meat-free/vegan days a week.
From these documentaries, they mention a number of reasons to change to a vegan lifestyle - here are some of the ones I found most interesting:
Avoid the association with animal cruelty and exploitation
Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer
Lower carbon footprint
More sustainable. A plant-based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet.
For those of us that think going vegan is too hard, taking part in Veganuary allows us to test the waters of a vegan lifestyle for a short period of time to see if it works for us. It will then make it easier to make changes to reduce our consumption of animal products after the 31 day challenge as our habits will have changed by this point. This way may work for some, but for others the slow and steady approach might be better by making small changes and building up.
Here are some tips to help with the 'Veganuary' challenge if you choose to take it:
Be Well Prepared And Get Help
Going vegan might require some staple things in your fridge to change, for example, things like butter. To help with these changes it's best to be organised and plan ahead so you're not caught out. Doing a weekly meal plan is a useful way to make sure you have everything you need in advance so you're less likely to give up. There are lots of yummy vegan recipes here for your reference.
It's also important to remember that you are not alone and there are lots of things available that can help when you're struggling or looking for motivation:
Sign up to Veganuary to get tips and tricks from vegan bloggers
Use social media like Instagram and Pinterest to get inspiration
Invest in some vegan recipe books
Chat with any friends and family who have already gone vegan
Join vegan Facebook groups
Milk seems to be the biggest hurdle when it comes to going vegan as there are so many milk alternatives on the market these days. It can be quite overwhelming knowing which one to go for. They all have a slightly different taste and some work better in different things. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the one that works best for you and your taste buds.
Based on the table above, the plant milk that has been found to have the least impact on the environment is oat milk, closely followed by soy milk. Oat milk is the only plant based milk I have tried so far (except for coconut milk in the odd hot chocolate which FYI if you're a Bounty lover, is incredible!) Oat milk for me works really well in porridge as it makes it even more 'oaty' - if that is even a word. I have tried it in tea, and I think it would grow on me but I'm not 100% sure. It is my challenge in January to find a plant based milk that works well for me in everything.
The only downside for me is that plant based milks tend to come in tetrapak cartons, which although they can be recycled, are still not the ideal packaging. I am hoping that now there is more of a demand for plant based milks, Milk & More will start to deliver them in reusable glass jars like they do dairy milk. Hopefully this will come about in 2021!
How To Get Enough Protein
One of the big questions for most people looking at going vegetarian or vegan, is how do I get enough protein without meat and dairy? The good news is, it is easier than you think!
This is a list of high protein plant based foods that can be easily incorporated into your diet to provide your RDA of protein:
Lentils, chickpeas and beans
Wild rice and Quinoa
High protein vegetables - broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Self Care Products
Even more good news - if you are already on a mission to be plastic free, chances are you are already using products that are vegan. Most UK brands that are striving to make more eco friendly products are going all the way to make products vegan at the same time, as you can probably see from taking a look through the products on Eco-Sal.
My personal recommendations for self care products are:
Hair Care - Zero Waste Path 2in1 Shampoo and Conditioner Bars (available for itchy scalp, oil & fine hair, dry & curly hair, and normal hair)
Skin Care Regime:
- Toner - Flawless Rose & Lavender Toner
- Face Scrub - UpCircle Face Scrub (available for all skin types)
- Day Serum - Lani Omega Glow Face Serum
- Night Serum - Lani Tropical Night Serum
- Moisturiser - UpCircle Moisturiser
Deodorant - Natural Deo Co Gentle Tangerine
Make-Up - Zao Make Up Range
Shower Gel/Soap - Shower Blocks Solid Shower Gel (available in 5 fragrances)
Toothpaste - Toothpaste Tablets with Fluoride
"I Want To Reduce My Meat Intake, But My Other Half Isn't Keen On The Idea?"
I'm sure this is the case for quite a few of us, me included. My husband loves meat and dairy and has always been against the idea of reducing our meat intake when I have raised the idea. I was tempted to go vegetarian on my own this year but it seemed pointless to not do it together and have to cook two meals every day.
As it is only 31 days, I was up for challenging myself to Veganuary this year, but after a discussion with my husband, we have opted for the 'slow and steady' approach. We have said that we will have 3-4 days meat free and will slowly incorporate more and more plant-based things into our diet, which is a start. As the quote says, "We don't need a handful of people being perfectly vegan, we need millions of people being imperfectly vegan."
I managed to sway him more towards the idea by watching the documentaries on Netflix. If you are looking for some to watch with your family, I would recommend 'The Game Changers', 'What The Health' and 'Cowspiracy' but there are plenty of other available too (please note that these may have left Netflix by the time that you read this).
The most important thing to remember, whether you choose to take the Veganuary challenge or just make small changes, is to not give up if you hit a rocky patch! There will be days that are harder than others, but every day that you manage to eat plant-based is a win so don't beat yourself up if you slip up!
I hope this has helped, but it is my New Year's Resolution to move more towards a vegan lifestyle. As my knowledge of this improves, I will be able to write a more informative blog post in the future! Please share in the comments any of your vegan tips and experiences!