The new year is finally upon us and now many of us are ready for a fresh start filled with new and exciting challenges. Some people are using their new years resolutions to start reading more books, while others are giving their livers a rest by cutting down on the booze.
But, while the prospect of embarking on a year-long mission to self-improvement can be pretty daunting and unnecessary to most, some people are using the new year to have a go at slightly more achievable challenges, like Dry January or Veganuary.
If you’re taking a crack at the latter, whether it be for health reasons, environmental or otherwise, it’s still a big ask going from a diet of many animal products to none at all.
Veganuary is perfectly achievable, with some determination and a little planning, so we’ve put together a list of handy little tips just to try and make it that little bit easier for the month ahead.
“Failing to prepare means preparing to fail” might just be the most annoying, yet accurate, phrase there is, but when it comes to embarking on an entirely new lifestyle, it couldn’t be more appropriate.
Slip-ups are okay and no one will hold them against you, but they’re a lot less likely to happen when you’ve planned ahead. As with any diet, the best thing you can do is bookmark a load of recipes which you like the sound of and writing out a food plan of what you intend to eat each day.
Once you know the ingredients you’re going to need for the week – making sure you account for snacks – it’s a lot easier to shop ahead, and having everything in the fridge already means you’re far less likely to end up grabbing something you shouldn’t during a last minute dash to the supermarket for dinner after work.
Stock up on essentials
In addition to all the ingredients from all the carefully planned out meals, it’s also really handy to have stocked up on any essentials you might need for any last minute recipes, drinks or snacks. If you usually take cow’s milk in your coffee, you’re going to need to stock up on a vegan alternative, such as oat milk or soy, depending on your preference.
The same applies to butter, cheese, oils, yogurt, chocolate, ice cream etc – basically all the things you turn to on a daily basis.
Read every label
Just to add little bit more to your plate, while you’re in the supermarket, you’re going to want to check the label of every item you pick up before chucking it in the basket, as many products have animal products hidden within them, even if they immediately appear as vegetarian or vegan.
Most packaging will clearly state if it is vegan, and if it doesn’t clearly say on the label, have a sceptical approach to checking the ingredients list.
Other forms of protein
One of the biggest concerns people raise when considering a plant-based diet is how they will manage to consume a healthy amount of protein, especially if they have a goal of fat loss, but there are plenty of ways to up your proteins without living off chicken and eggs.
Even those who aren’t trying to shift fat or build muscle should be conscious of eating plenty of protein, which can be found in nuts, seeds, lentils, tofu, beans, legumes, chickpeas and lentils to name a few.
If protein consumption is something you’re particularly concerned with, you can also rely on protein powders, as there are now hundreds of vegan options infiltrating the diet and nutrition market.
Give yourself a little bit of a helping hand by supplementing your diet with extra vitamins. It’s well documented that most people, both meat eaters and those who follow a plant based diet, are often deficient in B12, which can lead to feeling sluggish and fatigued.
That being said, however, meat and other animal products provide a rich source of B12 for many people, so when taking that away, those participating in Veganuary could consider supplementing it into their diet. Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc and Omega-3 are all also credited as being important vitamins for those following a vegan diet.
It’s certainly a lot, but with many people choosing to completely overhaul their lifestyles into turning vegan, you might find yourself loving it so much you want to make a change for good.