Veganuary…some tips to help you find your way

Veganuary is now in full swing and it is a great opportunity to try the vegan diet for the month of January. Whether you’re doing it to reduce the suffering of animals, to help the planet or to improve personal health – there is something for everyone.

You might want to embrace the challenge of committing fully to a plant-based diet, or just be inspired to embrace elements of Veganuary to make a few small changes, either way, there are plenty of benefits to this lifestyle choice for January and beyond.

Eat well everyone

There are so many inexpensive ways of eating greener. Look to fuel up with a balance and blend of food using carbs such as potato, rice and veggies, protein such as chickpeas, lentils and beans, and fats such as avocado, nuts and oils. Find variety in your diet, dig from the ground and search for those rainbow foods where the benefits are endless.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the many ‘meat-free’ processed alternatives that exist as a quick protein fix. Yes, they are vegan, however they are probably items you want to eat less frequently – especially if you really want to focus on the health benefits associated with true plant-based eating.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that vegans spend a lot of money on unique, specialist foods. Most food can be purchased in a normal supermarket at a normal price. Woohoo!

Do your research…there are loads of great websites and cookbooks out there for creative ways to make your meals nutritious and exciting!

Deficiencies and supplements

You should be able to get most of the nutrients you need from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet. However, here’s a few things you might want to look at in more detail…

Vitamin B12 
The body needs vitamin B12 to maintain healthy blood and a healthy nervous system, it also helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue. B12 is mostly found in animal foods, but it is also present in some fortified foods such as fortified non-dairy milk and yoghurt, fortified nutritional yeast and marmite. To make sure you’re getting enough, you might wish to consider supplementing with B12.

Iron 
Iron is greatly accessible on a vegan diet. Try to load up on lots of dark green veggies, nuts, seeds, certain grains, pulses and dried fruits. It contributes to the normal function of the immune system, cognitive function and helps with the reduction of tiredness and fatigue too. This might be another supplement to consider if you’re worried you’re not hitting up enough of these food groups.

Vitamin D
This is a good one for most people to look at taking on board as a supplement, whether you’re vegan or not, especially during the winter months given our low exposure to sunlight in the UK. Embracing regular sunlight in the Spring and Summer months will also help you to hit your RDA. The body needs vitamin D to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Vegan menu please!

Yes, that’s right, there is no need to miss out on any social feasts. You would not believe how many of the major food chains now offer this. Sometimes you have to ask for a separate menu, but most of the time it’s just right there staring you in the face with a capital VE. If you’re unsure about anything don’t be afraid to ask a question as you’ll find most of the staff will be super helpful and just want everyone to have an inclusive experience. There are also lots of specific vegan restaurants and cafes around if you’re wanting to try something more creative to fully ignite your taste buds.

Try the gradual way

It’s totally ok if a ‘rigid’ month as a vegan becomes too much, be proud of yourself for trying something new. It’s a huge leap to go from being a full-on meat-eater to diving into veganism. Perhaps try being a vegetarian first, or how about meat-free Monday? Even something simple like changing your daily coffee into one that uses alternative milk is a good way to start. Don’t be hard on yourself if one of the above options make it more accessible for you, go for it!

What about beauty products?

Your skin is the largest organ of the body…look after it and it will most definitely look after you! Your everyday moisturisers, make-up and hair-care products can all be ‘veganised’ too, just look out for the plant leaf logo. You can also seek out products with the cruelty free bunny logo that have never been tested on animals. Most supermarkets and chemists have these options and you’ll often find ‘own brand’ products are great for this, as well as being lower in price.

Vegan products tend to be less harsh and have naturally found ingredients which are great for more sensitive skin.

Sustainability…

Why not think outside the box? Small things make a huge difference and it you’re not quite ready to make any major changes how about this spectrum of ideas…a reusable coffee cup, reusable straw, reusable water bottle, reusable packaging, reduce food waste, buy local foods, go paper-free, recycle more and be water efficient. If you’re someone who loves fashion try buying from second hand shops, vintage stores and places like eBay. The possibilities are endless, and the choice is yours!

Explore kindness fully

Compassion is for everyone. If being vegan is, on some level, a kind choice to animals and the planet then surely that same kindness should be extended to humans? Just a thought.

Enjoy a plentiful month with a difference and if you learn something new – pass it on!

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