Our Food and Drink Editor, Katy Watson, has put together a quick guide to make this year’s Veganuary that bit easier. Join the thousands taking the pledge this January and give veganism a try for you, the planet and the animals!
It may seem like a challenge at first, but things fall into routine very quickly. I appreciate that everyone’s situation is different: cost, convenience, and health are all factors to consider. I have been vegan coming up to three years and I find it cheap, ever-more convenient and if you educate yourself you can be extremely healthy on a plant-based diet. If you find a particular meal or family occasion difficult to be vegan at, don’t let this put you off trying! Being vegan where possible is still saving lives and is going to make a difference!
2020 is predicted to be year of the vegan so join the movement of kindness.
Plan exciting meals and buy the ingredients in advance. Set some time aside in your evening to cook this month. Learn to cook vegetables well and you can really appreciate them for the tasty gems they are. Appreciate that it will take longer to cook in the beginning. You’re forming new habits and techniques after all! Hopefully you don’t have any butter left in the fridge but if you do, it’s perfectly fine to phase it out (I actually ended up doing Veganuary in February because I still had some cheese!).
What’s in a vegan’s kitchen?
Bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, lentils, noodles, wraps, beans (lots of different types), chickpeas, nuts, seeds, tinned tomatoes, sweet potatoes, porridge oats, vegan cereal (just double check online that your cereal is vegan! They like to sneak in some animal products), vegan chocolate (most dark chocolate is vegan, if it doesn’t have milk or whey powder in bold you should be good, Bourneville is vegan), vegan butter, free from pesto, frozen veggie burgers, vegan sausages, falafels, HUMMUS, chia seeds, frozen fruit (for smoothies) tofu, nutritional yeast…
And of course, a rainbow assortment of fruit and veg.
As a general rule of thumb, most vegans eat products that say ‘may contain milk’ or eggs. This is because it is really difficult to avoid it all together.
Here are some cookbooks to get you going:
- Bosh! (classic)
- El Piano cook book (gluten free, nut free and refined sugar free!)
- 15 minute Vegan
- SO Vegan in 5 (5 ingredient recipes, cheap and easy for students!)
- Feed Me Vegan– Lucy Watson (Not gonna lie, I didn’t expect it but I love the recipes in here)
2. Get Some Inspiration
Check out these websites and social media accounts for useful recipes and information! Here are some of my favourites Instas:
- Jamie Oliver (Especially good for when cooking for Mum!)
- Thug Kitchen
- Avant Garde Vegan
- 31 recipes for a plant-based January! (Livekindly)
3. Do Your Research
As the month passes by, you might be feeling some cravings (I certainly went through this phase) and that’s totally normal. Sometimes, though, it can feel overwhelming. I have really found power in educating myself. Find replacements and alternatives. And eventually the cravings go. To help with the education, watch these documentaries:
- Dominion (The most important!)
- The Game Changers (Most recent on health!)
- Conspiracy (Environment, slightly dated)
- Earthlings (Ethical)
- Forks over Knives (Health)
- What the Health (Health)
- Vegan 2019 (General overview)
- Black Fish (Ethical)
And these YouTube channels:
- Mic the Vegan (so much solid science stuff on his channel!!)
- Blue Ollis
- Liv B
- So much more, there’s a big vegan community out there.
And here are more websites to keep you informed:
- Vegan society
- Vegan Womble (life saver for checking food and products)
- Join a vegan Facebook group local to you! They’ll share vegan hotspots and reviews in your area, very useful!
- Barinvore: The ultimate guide to vegan alcohol. Dairy, honey or eggs might be in your alcohol. When filtering, companies may use isinglass (from fish bladder,) gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells, among other things.
- Accidentally Vegan
- And a simple google provides a plethora of BBC recipes and quick answers!
I went vegan for the animals predominately, but the environment and my health are also very important to me.
I had always felt close to animals: I had pet guinea pigs, I loved watching animal shows on TV and I liked going to see local wildlife. I sort of knew meat was a dead animal; I wouldn’t eat a rare steak because it reminded me of flesh, but bacon was yum. I liked cheese. I loved chicken nuggets and chips at McDonalds. I liked omelettes. I ate snacks without even knowing or caring what was in the ingredients. Then I became vegetarian at seventeen. I was nineteen when I became vegan. During the years as a vegetarian I told everyone I could never be vegan; I loved pizza and cake. I didn’t want to be socially outcast. Labelling myself as a vegetarian was difficult enough. But curiosity got the better of me: I started to read about veganism and watch documentaries. Suddenly, it clicked. There were more and stronger reasons to be vegan than there were not to be. It was a logical and compassionate decision.
An omnivorous diet is not sustainable. A pescatarian diet is not sustainable. I truly believe that killing animals is wrong, and you are a hypocrite if you say that you care about animals, and/or the environment and still eat meat, eggs and dairy. It’s a harsh truth, one that vegans tend to avoid discussing because it is an attack on a personal choice of lifestyle. But the best way in day-to-day life to protest the inhumane slaughtering (because no animal wants to die) is to not eat meat, eggs and dairy. I know it is not wholly possible for everyone, but I urge people to make the change to the best of their ability. And if you are in a position where you can be completely vegan then ask yourself “why am I not?”. I’ve seen people try veganism and then give up and it breaks my heart because they have not done the right research. That is all. Education is the key to doing veganism right. Once you start to realise how good you feel and how you’re helping the planet, and the animals and you will just be thinking, why didn’t I do it sooner?
The journey is different for everyone. If right now you cannot be vegan, please do not demoralise those trying to make a difference. It is time we change societal attitudes towards vegans. We are not crazy- we are just trying to help animals and the planet.
If you’re reading this post, it’s amazing that you are considering Veganuary. I know you can do it!
4. Be Kind To Yourself
Veganism is a lifestyle of active kindness. Forgive yourself if you make a mistake. Eat food that actually nourishes you, not just bourbons. If you’re doing a lot of sport, make sure you’re eating calorie dense food to fuel you. Food is energy. Your relationship with food changes for sure. It is much more harmonious, once you get your head round reading labels. But everything is more clearly labelled this year anyway. If you are finding it really difficult, ask a vegan you may know or watch some Youtube videos for inspiration. Veganism isn’t about restriction. It’s about expanding and adapting your diet to eating more plants.
You might also start to find that vegan and cruelty free products includes more than just food: cosmetics, toiletries, household items can all be divvied up into non-vegan or vegan products. This too will take some label-reading and research. And it will also take some time. Again, there are plenty of resources out there to help you.
5. Sign Up With A Friend
Going vegan with a friend or significant other is not only inspiring even more people to veganism, it gets the conversation going. You can talk about what you’re struggling with and share tips. It also starts the conservation about the exploitation of animals, the damage to the environment and how meat and dairy actually negatively impacts your health. If we don’t talk about the important issues surrounding what we eat we’ll never see a change in our actions.
If anyone ever wants to talk to someone, you can always message me on Instagram! I am always happy to give suggestions, support, and information. Veganism has created a community of kind and compassionate people who are all striving towards the same goal: to reduce suffering, to reduce their environmental impact, and improve upon health. I am very proud to be part of such a loving community of people. I urge you all to take the pledge to try veganism today.
Veganism isn’t a fad. Veganism is happening and growing. Seeing headlines saying “Half A Billion Fewer Animals Were Killed Per Year Since 2007 Because People Are Eating Less Meat” is amazing: people are realising the positive effect they can have!
About the author: Katy Watson is our Food and Drink editor and an English Literature Masters student at York. She loves reading, badminton and her two guinea-pigs.