Veganuary, is it worth doing?
January is everyone’s favourite month to make a lifestyle change. Alongside resolutions, millions of us take part in lifestyle challenges like Dry January and Red January. This year, I’m participating in Veganuary, but what is it and why is it worth doing?
Veganuary is the challenge to eat entirely vegan, so no animal products of any kind (largely covered by no meat, eggs, or dairy) for the month of January, with the aim that some vegan habits will stick with you afterwards. Whether you’re a meat eater or a veggie already, a big shake up to diet can be difficult, but a cold boring month like January is the ideal time to try it out and see if it sticks! So why take part?
Motivations for veganism can vary, but most revolve around concerns for animal welfare or for the environment. To get just 1lb of beef, 2,500 gallons of water is needed and animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of deforestation in the Amazon. Vegan diets are also associated with health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So whether it’s for yourself, the environment, or the animals there’s a large number of reasons to eat less meat and animal products!
I’ve been vegetarian already for two years and eat vegan a lot so here are my top tips for Veganuary!
- Keep it simple – so many food influencers post their daily meals consisting of quinoa buddha bowls and cakes made with 6 types of flour. All of this is OTT, especially as a new vegan! Instead use simple swaps (veggie sausages and mash, soy milk in cereal, shop bought vegan biscuits) so you’re not faced with a million things you’ve never cooked before.
- Plan meals in advance – when you’re swapping your diet to vegan, inspiration for lunch and dinner can be much more difficult because you don’t know all the options. A great place to start is to take a look at the Veganuary, BOSH!, and MOB websites for some very tasty inspiration. Look at your upcoming day or week and think about what you’ll have time to make (as well as common ingredients so nothing goes to waste)
- Try out a range of plant-based swaps – lots of favourites like spaghetti Bolognese, curry, chilli, fajitas, stir fry, burgers, have loads of ways to be made vegan. From using beans and grains to meat-alternatives like Quorn mince or chick’n pieces, you can use the same recipe and just swap out the protein source.
- Pay attention to nutrition! This is really important whether you’re vegan or not, but a lot of vegan meals require you to eat more volume for the same nutrition. Vegetables are less calorie dense than meat so be sure to check the tin or packet for the right portion sizes.
- Two key nutrients that you have to pay attention to as a vegan are iron and vitamin B12. Iron is found in leafy greens and lentils, while B12 is a bit more difficult. Marmite and nutritional yeast are great sources for it and add incredible flavours to meals like Bolognese or pasta so try adding a teaspoon to your dishes!
- Also make sure to have adequate calories and protein in your meals (quick sources of protein include beans, tofu, plant-based meats) or else you’ll spend all evening snacking on toast and biscuits, speaking from experience! Certain nutrients
Veganuary may seem intimidating but it really is worthwhile! Don’t worry too much about failing and if you’re struggling with a certain craving then first try looking for a vegan version. Whether you cook it yourself or buy it ready-made, you may find yourself a new favourite! With the number of plant-based products on the shelves, there has never been a better time to try vegan, so best of luck with your Veganuary journey!
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