5 things I wish I’d known for my first Veganuary
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’ve all had a beautiful Christmas and spent your time off doing things you love with the people you love! I’ve had a nice little break from all my responsibilities (including this blog) but now I’m back and feeling so excited for 2019 – here’s to new opportunities and new challenges…
As you probably already know, this month is dedicated to Veganuary, a month-long pledge to give up meat, dairy, fish and all other animal products. So far over 250,000 people from 193 countries have taken the pledge to try veganism and the campaign has predicted that by the end of January a further 300,000 will have signed up too! This is always a great time to try veganism as it’s right at the start of a brand spanking new year and you often want to try to eat healthier and have more energy around this time…enter veganism!
I first tried Veganuary back in 2015 and got hopelessly lost wandering around supermarkets, not knowing what I could or couldn’t eat, and feeling very alone (plays the world’s smallest violin) But I’ve learnt a lot along my vegan journey so this year I thought I’d share some things that might help you with your pledge. Have a read and feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions ever!
1. The aim isn’t perfection
Veganuary (in my opinion) is about trying out a new lifestyle and seeing if it fits. And much like riffling through a vintage store sale, not everything is going to be to your taste. Give yourself a break if you slip up and accidentally eat something non-vegan, or if you go round your nans and she’s made you a cake (don’t hurt nan’s feelings, she’s probably a lovely woman). The aim is to try your best and be mindful of what you eat, take the pressure away and you’ll enjoy the experience a hell of a lot more.
2. Use it as an opportunity to try new things
There are sooooo many new vegan places popping up all over the place you have no idea! Seriously, you have to give these places a try, you will not regret it. Whatever your preference, junk or healthy, there are vegan cafes and restaurants opening up in most major cities, and if you’re not near one, hop on a train and treat yo self to a vegan day trip! Obviously London has the most options but some other vegan hotspot cities are Bristol (my hometown), Brighton, Glasgow, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Liverpool. Try out some meat-alternatives, vegan cheeses and of course, dairy-free chocolate – you’ll soon be glad you took this pledge! My personal recommendations are a Vego chocolate bar, vegan mac n cheese (made with nutritional yeast) and Booja-Booja Caramel Pecan Praline ice cream (drooling right now)…
3. You don’t have to sacrifice your guilty pleasures
Just because you’re vegan for January doesn’t mean you have to go without. There are now pretty much alternatives for every ‘favourite food’ out there and sooo many new products you’ve probably never tried! It was big news the other day when Greggs announced their new vegan sausage roll for Veganuary, and it actually has more protein in it than the meat one (so fuck you Piers Morgan) and did you know that their Belgian bun is and has always been vegan!? If you like chocolate, try Vego, Vivadi or iChoc bars, all vegan and all delicious. If pizza is your thing, try the Goodfella Falafel pizza or Kirsty’s Free From Margherita pizza. If, like me, you’re in love with curries, check out the Waitrose Vegetarian Thai Green Curry & Rice ready meal or the Tesco Vegetable Masala (so good!)
4. Make use of resources
Please don’t try and do this all by yourself, it will be super hard to know everything all at once and might even put you off veganism! Use online resources to help you with food shopping, eating out, recipes and nutritional advice. You can also use my blog posts to learn more about vegan fashion :) One of the best pages you can follow is Vegan Womble; they have lists of all the accidentally vegan food in different supermarkets. You can pretty much scroll down to the snack section and then just walk around in a mad happy daze picking up treats you never even knew were vegan! Another great source of information is the babe @_sunfl0werseed, she finds so many vegan products in supermarkets and also shares great Costa ordering tips – perfect for us coffee addicts.
5. Know your nutrients!
OK I’m gunna bore you a bit now, but please heed my warning; IF YOU DO NOT KNOW YOUR NUTRIENTS YOUR BODY WILL GET MAD AT YOU. If you don’t have some kind of plan in place for where you’re going to get your vital nutrients from, you will probably get low energy, low iron levels in your blood and you might find yourself feeling quite run-down by the end of the month. Some of the main vitamins to pay attention to are iron, vitamins B12 and D, zinc, calcium and selenium, and also omega-3. Oh, and be prepared for the question “where do you get your protein from?” to be thrown at you several times a day, just respond with “all protein is made by plants” and then tell them to watch What The Health (here’s a great YouTube video that explains it really well). If you include lots of dark greens, pulses/beans for protein, high-fibre starchy foods and nuts/seeds, you will have no problem! You might also want to check out the Vegan Society’s detailed nutrition overview for more information on things to consider when adopting a vegan diet.
So that’s it folks, all the top tips that I wish I’d known when I took my first Veganuary pledge! Hope you have a successful month and if you want to stick around at the vegan party after the 31st, we’d love to have you here :)