Veganuary’s CEO Simon Winch reveals his essential advice for going vegan this January…
14 top tips and advice to help make going vegan easy this Veganuary
Are you vegan-curious and ready to take the plunge? If the answer’s ‘yes’ then it sounds like you should be signing up to do Veganuary. Starting now, January 1st or whenever suits you, the supportive, non-judgemental kale experts at Veganuary can help take the stress and confusion out of going vegan. Making this change can be liberating, fun, and could completely transform your life.
Even if you’re vegan already, we’re here to give you a bit more support, a few ideas or some inspiration. Our top tips will make it easy for anyone, whatever stage of the journey you’re at, to make the most of Veganuary.
Sound good? Then let’s get started… with delicious food that’s better for animals, better for the planet and better for your health!
Tip 1 Sign up for support
The best journeys of adventure start at the beginning. The beginning of this one sees you moseying over to www.veganuary.com, clicking the ‘sign me up’ button, and entering your details. Choose when you want your Veganuary experience to start. Voila! You’ll receive 31 days of support emails which take you by the hand through your month trying vegan. You’ve just done the most important bit. Oh, and we’ll send you a celebrity cookbook download too. And did we mention it’s all free? Bargain.
Tip 2 Follow meal plans
Check out the meal plans in our Vegan Starter Kit. They’re great for new and transitioning vegans. You’ll discover new foods, make new routines and feel less anxious. Over time, planning becomes less important, because vegan becomes the new normal, but in the early days, meal plans can help boost your confidence in the kitchen, provide variety and flavour in your diet and ensure you’re getting a lot of good nutrients. Plus, who wouldn’t want to try our shepherd’s pie recipe?
Tip 3 Veganise the food you love
Try ‘veganising’ your favourite dishes. While you’re transitioning to a vegan diet it can be tough to break old habits. Keeping things familiar can help. So, if you’re bonkers for burgers, just find a veggie burger that you like, or cook up a cruelty-free version. Spag bol, lasagne or pizza – these can totally be vegan, and just as delicious! Check out the recipe section and product directory at www.veganuary.com to see for yourself.
Tip 4 Go on a local product hunt
Talking of vegan pizza – scope out your local area. What vegan products are available in your supermarket? Knowing where you can get food in a hurry is important to prevent those hungry cheesy face-plants. The corner shop might not sell vegan ice cream, but somewhere nearby will – you may just need to think ahead a little bit more.
Tip 5 Venture online
Sometimes the local supermarket doesn’t have every product you’d like to try. Or perhaps you can only make it to the local shop, or you live in a rural area. Possibly you’ve been to a vegan festival and sampled some delicious food that you haven’t been able to find anywhere since. Look online. There are some really good online supermarkets, both mainstream (such as Ocado) or specialist (such as The Vegan Kind) which, with a few clicks, can deliver delicious vegan food to your door.
Tip 6 Restaurant research
Find out about nearby veg-friendly restaurants. This could be the excuse you’ve been waiting for to break the routine and try somewhere new! Our eating-out guide rates the most vegan-friendly chain restaurants. Alternatively, you could visit www.vanilla-bean.com or www.happycow.net, or download their apps. These services tell you exactly what restaurants or cafés are available in your location of choice and show user reviews too. You might even find somewhere that’ll deliver vegan pizza to your door.
Tip 7 Build a support network
As Bill Withers points out, sometimes we need a friend to call on. What better advice, then, than to find a vegan friend. Whether by chatting to other customers in your local health food shop or veg-friendly restaurant, or joining a local social media group, transitioning to vegan is much easier if you have someone to share the journey with. Perhaps you could recruit a member of your family (or the whole family!) to do Veganuary too. Or if you’re the only vegan in the village, join the Veganuary Facebook group where you’ll be in a friendly, non-judgemental community of people all coming up against the same problems as you are.
Tip 8 Cuddle a rescued farm animal
We can’t recommend this enough: visit an animal rescue sanctuary. Preferably a vegan, farmed animal rescue sanctuary. If the motivation to go vegan is flagging, or you want a reminder of the impact you can make – or you just want to cuddle a piglet – visit a rescue sanctuary. Our favourite is The Retreat Animal Rescue (www.retreatanimalrescue.org.uk) near Ashford, Kent. It’s a long way from Veganuary HQ in York, but an easy day trip from London and the South East. Find your nearest sanctuary and pay a visit!
Tip 9 Find your perfect plant-based alternatives
Missing meat and dairy? Try the ever-growing number of substitute products. Whatever your preference, there’s a non-dairy milk with your name on it. We like unsweetened almond milk on cereal, and oat milk in tea and coffee. Try a few, and find the ones you like.
Miss your brownie fix or stuck for a quick snack? Try Pulsin’s great range of vegan brownies and oat bars. Miss burgers, sausages or chicken nuggets? All available from Fry’s Family Foods (try Holland & Barratt or an independent wholefood shop), and totally vegan.
Missing pesto or want a hearty soup? Try Tideford Organics – their entire range is vegan. And cheese and onion crisps don’t need to be a thing of the past either – Ten Acre sell the only vegan bag of cheese and onion in Europe! For loads of great vegan substitute products, check our product directory, local supermarket free-from options, or local independent wholefood shops.
Tip 10 Accidentally vegan products
Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps. Oreos. Co-op jam doughnuts. Hobnobs. All consigned to history as you march into a vegan future. But wait! Actually, they’re all vegan. Surprised? We were too. Loads of products are, sometimes unexpectedly, ‘accidentally vegan’. So before you give up on being able to eat Sainsbury’s chicken flavour instant noodles, check the ingredients first, or go to the accidentally vegan page on www.veganuary.com.
Tip 11 Zap some barcodes
By the end of the first week you may have spent an hour or two looking at ingredient labels in confusion. Is carmine vegan? We won’t lie to you. Reading labels isn’t particularly interesting. It shouldn’t have to be such a hassle to find out whether a product has bits of animal in it, and while vegan labelling is getting better, there’s still a long way to go.
Happily, there’s a great cheat. Download a label-reading app such as Spoon Guru, set it to ‘vegan’ (it can look after any other allergies or intolerances too), zap the bar code of the potentially vegan item, and it’ll tell you if it’s going in the trolley or back on the shelf. Easy as vegan pie.
Tip 12 Getting cheesy
We need to talk about cheese. There’s no underestimating how important cheese is to many, many people – particularly vegetarians. We’ve been there. We want to go vegan, but gorgonzola. Our advice is to try a variety of vegan cheeses. You’ll find some you love, and maybe some you hate.
We’re firm believers that there’s a vegan cheese for everyone. As you find the ones that work for you, you’ll find that dairy cheese doesn’t do it for you like it used to, even smells a bit sweaty sock-ish. We’re particularly keen on Violife (cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan and halloumi) and Vegusto (cheddar and a yummy cheese sauce).
Tip 13 Mistakes can happen
Forgive yourself! If you’re keen to try veganism, but find you fall off the wagon, don’t assume that veganism isn’t for you. You’re just a vegan who made a mistake. That’s OK, we’re all human. Just start again. Every day you eat plant-based is a wonderful thing, so don’t worry too much about the odd hiccup.
A bit of extra reading
Still wondering how to go vegan? Pick up a copy of our new book How To Go Vegan, published December 28th – just in time for Veganuary! Available from your local bookshop or an online retailer, it could also make a great gift for those in your life who could do with a nudge to try vegan.
How To Go Vegan addresses the why, the how and everything you need to make going vegan easy – and it’s so effective that even the proof reader went vegan when she read it!
Think of it as someone from Veganuary being there to help you every step of the way along your journey towards a diet that spares animal suffering, benefits our planet and can improve your health too.
We hope you’ve found these tips useful and wish you the best of luck in your vegan journey!