Veganuary: Our top tips to get you started

Every year people around the world start the 31-day challenge, and maybe this year you’re one of them; or maybe you’re thinking about but but just don’t know how to take the plunge.

Veganism is often defined by what is off the menu such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy plus hidden animal ingredients such as whey (from milk) and gelatine (from animal bones).

But the focus should be on the all the good things vegans do eat, and there has never been a better time to try Veganuary because for almost every animal-derived ingredient and product, there is now a vegan alternative. Instead of meaty burgers, sausage and steaks, there are plant-based versions and instead of dairy cheese on a pizza or cows’ milk vegans choose plant-based versions.

Here are our top tips for Veganuary (first-timers)

1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

A meal plan is key to not falling off the wagon. This will also help you know what to shop for.

Some people new to veganism can get hungrier quicker after meals (at first) so carry snacks with you.

2. LOOK OUT FOR ACCIDENTAL VEGAN FOODS

There are so many everyday foods that just happen to be vegan, so take a look in your cupboards and see what you already have.

Believe it or not, some of your favourite biscuits like Biscoff Lotus and Oreos are vegan.

3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Going vegan isn’t easy, especially when there are so many hidden animal products in food. So don’t be hard on yourself if you make a few mistakes – it’s a learning process.

For example: Whey – if you’re a protein shake person you’ll need to switch to a vegan protein powder. Whey is the protein in dairy products (lactose is the sugar, whey is the protein). This is why you will often see “whey (MILK)” on the back of food packages. Generally you won’t notice it, unless you’re looking for it; which brings us to our next tip

4. READ FOOD LABELS

Food labels can be tricky at the best of times, but when you’re vegan there are a few things you have to watch out for. An animal derived ingredient won’t be in BOLD like allergy advice, and therefore you have to know the jargon that hides animal products in plain sight. Luckily PETA had a cheat sheet for you.

5. FIND ALTERNATIVES TO YOUR FAVOURITES

Most people think going vegan means giving up their favourite foods – this is not true.

One thing that can help is social media. There are so many accounts dedicated to vegan finds that will help you track down alternatives to your favourite foods and let you know when new foods have hit the shelves.

6. DRINK WATER

It’s always a good idea to drink more water – typically the average human doesn’t drink enough. But as you increase your daily intake of fruit and veggies its key to stay hydrated in order to combat any unwanted side effects.

7. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS

Remember Veganuary is an opportunity to expand your horizons. Once you’re comfortable with your simple substitutions and everyday alternatives, try new things. Veganism isn’t just about oat milk and veggie steaks.

8. JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP OR DO IT WITH A FRIEND

A support group can be a great way to find new recipes, find helpful tips, and share your experiences. But they’re not for everybody, so if a support group just isn’t your thing, get a friend to try it with you.

9. FINALLY; THINK ABOUT WHY YOU’RE GOING VEGAN

Don’t make a lifestyle change in a whim. Do some online research, read a book on veganism, or watch a few documentaries on Netflix. Be informed about the decision and the impact it makes on animals, the environment and your health. There are many reasons to go vegan, but there needs to be a driving-force behind the decision that keeps you motivated.

I think it’s important to stress this is a 31-day challenge, you make the choice if you want to continue with the lifestyle after January. Maybe you don’t, maybe you just make more conscious decisions, or go vegan a few times a week. Some people find veganism really easy, and for others it’s difficult and that’s okay. Regardless, this month you’ve tried and that’s amazing.

Candice Farrow

Fashion and lifestyle blogger from North East, England.

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