How To Go Vegan This January

vegan nachos

You’ve committed to Veganuary, but you don’t know where to start? We’ve got tips to help you get started on a meat-free month (and beyond) plus where to find the nutrients vegans need in their diet and advice on how to stay the course.

Plan ahead

Any major change in diet requires a bit of planning, particularly if you’re going to be cooking and eating things you don’t have much experience of already. Going vegan might be a considerable step – particularly if you’re not a vegetarian already – but with a little time devoted to planning and figuring out how you can go meat-free and still eat flavoursome foods that you love, you’ll find it’s perfectly manageable.

Cauli salad

To start, have a think of all flavours you like to eat. Do you like spicy? Sweet? Tangy citrus flavours? Then make a list of your favourite foods or ingredients, leaving out anything non-vegan. Think dark chocolate or fresh berries if you have a sweet tooth, or pasta and potatoes if you’re a carb fiend. Then also make a list of your favourite meals; what can you do to make them vegan?

Use these three lists as your starting point. Set aside an hour to look at some cookery books and blogs online to find some new recipe ideas that include the flavours and vegan ingredients you love to eat, or recipes for a vegan-friendly take on your favourite meal. Hopefully spending some time on this will make you feel inspired about all the tasty food you can still enjoy after removing meat and dairy from your diet.

When it comes to cooking, give yourself more time than you would usually, particular if you’re working with an ingredient you don’t have much experience of cooking, particularly something like tofu, tempeh, or vegetables like aubergine, which can take a bit of getting used to. 

smoothies

Get your protein in

Many people worry that by going vegan, they’ll be losing vital proteins from their diet, which are essential for muscle development. But meat, fish and eggs are not the only sources of protein available to you. In fact, plenty of vegetables and pulses are packed with protein, to make sure your diet stays balanced and healthy.

  • Nut butters, such as peanut, almond or cashew, have around 25g of protein per 100g, and they’re the ideal snack food to get some protein in on the go. They’re also rich unsaturated fats, so they’re a great source of energy if you’re on a high intensity fitness regime.
  • Tofu is a good source of complete protein – meaning it contains the nine amino acids that our bodies need to build bone, muscle and organ tissue. It is also much lower in saturated fats than most meat, and it is a great canvas for absorbing the natural flavours of herbs and spices. Check out other soya bean products, like soya milk as a dairy replacement.
  • Quinoa is a particularly protein-rich whole grain, with around 18g protein per 250g of cooked quinoa. Plus it’s packed with fibre and contains no fat.
  • Beans and lentils are high in protein, which is lucky as they’re a great base for tasty vegan comfort food – think spicy curries or vegan chili. Plus, they’re cheap, so perfect if you’re on a post-Christmas budget.
  • Spinach. Green veggies still include a not-insignificant dose of protein, and spinach is a particularly good source, with around just 3g per 100g cooked serving. Plus, it’s full of essential vitamins like A & C (great for the skin) and iron.
  • Edamame. Protein-rich soybeans again, only this time, it’s young soybeans still in their pods, boiled and salted to make a tasty snack.

veg bowl

Staying motivated

Keeping yourself on track once the initial excitement wears off and you’re a couple of weeks in can be tough. The Vegan Society has members around the country who can offer support and advice to newbies looking for fresh meal inspiration or a little reminder of why they’re doing it in the first place. Also check out vegan magazines, such as Vegan Living, for inspiration from meat-free celebrities and influencers, plus recipe ideas and more lifefstyle tips.

Whether you’re doing it for health or environmental reasons, going vegan doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the little pleasures in life. A reward for sticking to a new goal can be the sort of carrot you need to stay motivated. It’s not hard to find recipes for delicious sweet vegan treats (just check out this chocolate cake by Nigella Lawson).

Or a detoxing spa break with healthy juices, delicious salads and a restorative massage could be just what you need, and hotels generally offer a range of dining options to accommodate different dietary requirements.

Soup

Recipes

There is a world of vegan recipes out there, whether you’re looking for a quick lunchtime snack or canape ideas, to wholesome comfort food an indulgent desserts. We’ve rounded up a few influencers to help get you started on your vegan journey.

  • The Tofu Diaries. Natalie Tamara’s vegan recipes cover every type of dish you can think of. We particularly like the sound of her Creamy Pan-Fried Gnocchi, which uses oat cream and chestnut mushrooms.
  • Guac and Roll. An excellent one-stop-shop for recipes, this vegan stalwart includes guides for a variety of options for every meal of the day. At this time of year, nothing is better for lunch than a warm and hearty bowl of soup – something like this Spiced Squash and Coconut one.
  • Naturally Sassy. Saskia Gregson Williams is a former ballerina, and although her recipes aren’t all 100% vegan (although she is meat- and diary-free she still eats eggs) there is a wide range of ones that are, like this delicious breakfast recipe for Orange, Pomegranate and Pistachio Porridge. You’ll also find some great workout videos.

 

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