It’s the most wonderful time of the year to be a Vegan. Veganuary is here once again. For most vegans, it’s pretty much the same as any other time of year, bar seeing which fast food places are finally adding some vegan dishes to their menus (although let’s be honest, it’s going to be hard to beat Subway’s Meatless Marinara anytime soon).
There’s a pretty good chance you’re on this page because a Vegan friend has shared a link, or you’ve been doing some research yourself and are wondering what Veganuary is all about, how it works, and how you can give it a go. If any of this sounds like it fits the bill, you’ve come to the right place.
This is Viva La Vegan’s Guide to Veganuary. Allow us to take you on a whirlwind tour through all things Veganuary. We’ll help you get to know what makes this month so special, how it is easier than you think to adopt a Vegan diet in your life, and most importantly, where all the good Vegan food is.
So come with us and learn how to do Veganuary the VLV way.
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a month-long celebration of all things Vegan. It just so happens to take place every January. It was started by a charity of the same name which you can learn more about on their official website.
When did Veganuary start?
You might be surprised to learn that Veganuary isn’t that old. The first official event took place only back in 2014. To think it’s come on so far in a matter of years is astonishing, and a testament to those who promote and take part.
Do many people take part in Veganuary?
Year on Year the only way is up Veganuary. Sign ups in 2020 where c.400,000 which was a 60% increase on 2019 official participants. According to data from The Vegan Society, the “number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019” . This would match up with our experience. As the demand for vegan products especially food has exponentially grown. Some supermarkets now have dedicated isles for vegan products. The official Veganuary site says that over 1 million people have signed up to take part since 2014. This is understated as the real figure is higher as many people take part independent of the charity.
WANT tO KNOW WHY VEGANUARY IS IMPORTANT TO US? FIND OUT HOW VIVA LA VEGAN CAME TO BE.
At Viva La Vegan we would always respond to this with “Why wouldn’t you try veganism”. There are three main benefits.
VEGANUARY – FOR THE ANIMALS
The first is the obvious one and relates to reducing the murder AND ABUSE of animals for food. Food agriculture is a big business with over 170 Billion animals killed each year for food. If you would like to take a deeper look into the statistics and farming practices that are cruel we would recommend visiting the following websites:-
1.) http://www.animalmatters.org/facts/farm/ – a comprehensive website providing facts, information, and advice about the majority of issues facing all animals.
2.) https://thevegancalculator.com/animal-slaughter/ – an informative website that show’s a real-time calculator with an estimate of the number of animals slaughtered / How many animals you save by living vegan.
VEGANUARY – FOR THE PLANET
It’s clear to us that by choosing a vegan diet we are helping the environment. Again this is not a simple topic to cover but it is somewhat telling that the United Nations admits that animal agriculture is in the top three industries that are causing havoc to the planet. Did you know that one single quarter pounder burger utilises over 3,000 litres of water during production? That’s really resource intensive. To put that into perspective one whole Olympic-sized swimming pool full of water would on create just 1,250 burgers.
We all know to try hard in our daily lives to conserve water by shorter shower times and turning taps of when brushing teeth etc. To blow all those savings on just one lunch is crazy.
This has got to be a worry without even considering other factors such as the level of emissions during production and land use. THERE IS NO PLANET B.
On the flip side, plant-based burgers use 75% to 95% less water, 90% to 95% less land, and cause 85% to 90% fewer immissions.
VEGANUARY – FOR YOUR HEALTH
We are not nutritionists here at Viva La Vegan, nor are we Doctors or health practitioners, but we know from experience that a well-considered Vegan Diet is tremendously beneficial for your health. We are living proof, a family of Vegans ranging in age from 5 (vegan from birth) to 70!!
The main issue facing vegans is just replacing one over-processed meat product with a similarly overly processed plant-based alternative. Don’t get us wrong there is definitely a place for a Vegan Kebab with all the trimming but if health is the reason for trying veganism we would recommend that you really do your research if your planning to remain vegan once veganuary comes to an end. A very good place to start is
1.) Vegan Society – https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrition-overview-0
another good source of research is
2.) Nutritional Facts – https://nutritionfacts.org/
If you feel overwhelmed or confused by nutritional factors you could employ the services of a qualified nutritionist who will create a meal plan. We would highly advise John Awen – https://johnawen.com/vegan-nutrition/
WHERE SHOULD I START
For lack of a better phrase, you could go cold turkey, and take a deep dive into all things Vegan. If your making the Veganuuary Pledge then commitment is key. Above we have stated the main reasons to try veganuary and we would certainly advise you to decide which one of these resonates with you the most and research it in more detail. This will reinforce your decision and be a major factor in helping you to move away from animal consumption.
Small changes are usually easier than you think especially if you start by veganizing the meals you normally cook for example by switching to a Vegan Mince in your Chilli Con Carne! When you are ready to be a little more adventurous there are lots of easy recipes online to allow you to try new foods! Nowadays there is no reason to sacrifice taste for compassion.
At the outset of Veganuary, we would recommend trying not to change too much in one go. If your lifestyle is such that you are time poor and your a bit of a convenience food junky, then don’t try to become some raw food or health food guru. If this is you and you hardly cook food from scratch then look for meat-free alternatives. They are out there in abundance. If you cook your own food from scratch then there are two approaches. Your could try veganising your existing recipes. This is what we at VLV did when we became vegan. Others worry their favourite recipe won’t taste the same so opt to try new foods and recipes looking for new favorites.
If your looking for inspiration here is a link to 50 easy vegan recipes to get you started. https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/50-easy-vegan-recipes-for-beginners
If baking is your thing and you just have no idea how you can bake without dairy and eggs then check out our lovely friend is a super talented baker. She recreates favourite bakes – veganised, she gives her recipes away for free- check out her website and Instagram page for baking inspiration. https://vecreation.co.uk/ https://www.instagram.com/vecreationrecipes/
WHERE DO I GET MY PROTEIN?
This is an important question when taking meat out of your diet. But we can assure you that your diet need not suffer from being protein deficient when you stop eating murdered animal products. There are so many sportsmen and women that are thriving on a vegan diet and many of these are bodybuilders who are obsessed with consuming the correct type and amount of calories including protein. So for the mere mortals among us getting the correct amount of protein is not a problem. Besides look at gorillas and ox’s. Both are strong and both are vegan
It is however important that some thought is given on what to replace meat with. Soya Bean and Soya Products such as Tofu, Edamame, and Tempeh are great, as is Quinoa. Here at Viva La Vegan our cupboards always include large amounts of tinned and dried lentils, chickpeas, and beans; with black beans being our favourite. We also eat a lot of sweet potatoes and our freezer has a supply of no-meat “meat” products. We are not the healthiest of eaters but we mix it up so that we balance out processed food with freshly prepared meals.
There are so many guides on the internet on vegan protein sources and we suggest you take a brief review of these. The vegan society has a simple PDF that could be a good starting place. https://www.vegansociety.com/sites/default/files/uploads/downloads/Protein%20PDF.pdf
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I WILL BE MISSING OUT ON FROM EXCLUDING ANIMAL PRODUCTS?
The main one is B12, but you are not going to become deficient in this over a 31 day period. Most meat-eaters are diffident in it too. Taking a simple daily supplement will help that. Cereals and plant milk are mostly fortified with vitamins and calcium.
We boost our Vit B with nutritional yeast (which is now sold at most supermarkets), not only because it is a great source of B12 but it tastes so yummy. We add it to baked beans or to Pasta with a splash of olive oil to create a cheesy flavour.
For your omegas look to flax, hemp, and chia seeds – easily added to smithies or sprinkled on your breakfast
As to be expected all supermarkets have expanded their vegan offering during Veganuary.
This year there are even more options.
We set out below some of our favourites:-
They have a great selection of vegan products. Their own brand is “Plant Menu”. Our all time personal favourite is their No Chez Bakes. You can also top up with well priced vegetables and tinned legumes.
Has one of the largest range of own brand vegan products (“Plant Based”) along with a large amount of other brands stocked. They have introduced a full isle of vegan products in some of their stores which is super impressive.
MARKS AND SPENCERS
Seperb range of vegan goodies. If your looking for a vegan sandwhich we consider their to be the best. We also love their yoghurts. Definately worth a trip for a treat. There curries are also lovely.
We regularly visit. They have a full range of own brands (V-Taste) and other brands. We adore their own brand freshly prepared pizzas.
This is our favourite supermarket for Vegan Options and like others they have a great range of own products (Plant Pioneers) and other brands. Our favourite snack is Bamba which are just the best.
We love the range of products, There own brands are “Wicked Kitchen” and “Plant Chef” and both are awesome. We always take a look at the reduced price section as there are often vegan goodies to be found … ssshhh !
The above are not the only supermarkets that provide vegan options, they all do. At the higher price range, there is Waitrose who have their own vegan branded products.
At the more budget levels, Iceland has a great range of products with their own brand called “No Meat Company” they were one of the pioneers of no meat burgers with their “No Bull Burgers”. Another budget supermarket is Heron Foods. The way their business works means that you cannot guarantee that they will have vegan products in but our local one always has Linda McCartney sausages and our best buy a few months ago was Vegan Almond Magnums priced at 3 for £1.00. You bet we brought a few.
There are so many brands of Vegan products and so it is impossible to list them all but we set out below some to look out for during Veganuary:-
-Birds Eye Green Cuisine
-Frys ( we love them as they are vegan owned)
-Sgaia Foods (we love them as they are a small independent vegan business – and taste amazing!)
During Veganuary, what apart from food what isn’t Vegan?
Veganuary’s focus does seem to be on a change to a more humane diet. What’s the next step to becoming fully vegan. When you start looking around, you can pick up on things you use every day, which may not be vegan. Common examples of this can include clothing, cleaning products, candles, some beers and wine, cosmetic products, tattoo ink.
Don’t be overwhelmed by this, it’s ok to want to remove all animals products from your lifestyle in one go, equally, that might not be practical, affordable, it’s ok to use up what you already have and switch products one by one as you finish what you’ve got. More and more Brands are getting at labeling things vegan-friendly and there is an abundance of Facebook groups always willing to offer a hand/recommendations, you’ll soon pick up what to use/avoid. Remember, Veganuary is about making positive changes.
With clothing, you may have a wardrobe that is full of garments made with animal products. There is no right way to deal with this. In our household, there are two adults and one decided not to wear any of the existing non-vegan garments whereas the other adult decided to continue to wear the old clothing and shoes that were made with animal products, but both of us committed straightaway to no longer buying any clothing with animal products in it.
With regards to cosmetics, many supermarket home brands are starting to add vegan-friendly cosmetics and toiletries. Superdrug’s own brand is particularly popular and affordable.
Our personal favourite/recommendation would be to take a look at Greener Beauty (https://www.greenerbeauty.com/) run by a passionate vegan, who knows her stuff when it comes to all things cosmetics. They only stock 100% vegan, cruelty-free items by independent companies that are not under an umbrella of brands that aren’t vegan / test on animals.
You could also follow a social media influencer such as Instagram blogger “Vegan Beauty Girl” (https://www.instagram.com/veganbeautygirl/?hl=en ).
For those of you who like a tipple the majority of hard liquors (bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum)—are vegan. That said look at the labels as some products may be cream-based or contain honey. Beers and wines are a little more awkward to navigate due to the filtering processes that can make them non-vegan. We always advise the use of a great free app called Barnivore which has a database of over 50,000 products that you can search to see if it is vegan or not. Don’t trust the barman or shopkeeper because they are unlikely to know for sure whether it’s vegan or not. (https://www.barnivore.com/)
With regards to perfumes, the majority of designer brands sell to China which means they are required to be tested on animals, and even if they are not the list of potential animal products used to create perfumes is so large containing ingredients from fish scales to whale vomit. If you want to buy a new perfume the only way to be sure is to choose a vegan perfumery. We only recommend Eden Perfumes as we have used them for over five years and have at our festivals sold them along with our clothing range. There is nothing better on the market. They smell great, are long-lasting, and are affordable. Buying from Eden also means you are supporting another small independent business (www.edenperfumes.co.uk)
WANT TO HELP ANIMALS? SEE HOW OUR FRIENDS HAVE SUPPORTED A SPECIAL SANCTUARY FOR ANIMALS.
Can you get Vegan clothes?
Once you take stock of how present animal products can be in your wardrobe, you might find it hard to find solutions. That’s something we at Viva La Vegan have worked hard to achieve with all our products.
For example, our clothing is as eco-friendly as possible to respect people, animals & our planet, it’s ethically made, and every purchase goes towards our efforts to donate to animal charities & planting trees; all things we’re pretty certain most clothing brands don’t even take into consideration.
YOU ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO TRY VEGANUARY. LEARN HOW AMAZING IT CAN BE TO HAVE LITTLE ONES GET INVOLVED.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
Here’s a joke every vegan has heard a million and one times:
“How can you tell if somebody is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
Veganuary is something to be proud of. Still, many people are put off the idea of trying it because they don’t want to be met with question after question when sitting down for dinner.
There are a couple of ways to go about it without it becoming overwhelming. You can either tell everyone ahead of time you’re doing Veganuary and ask them to be polite about it, or, keep it quite until your have learned enough to answer their questions. Trust us there is always questions, suddenly everyone is a wannabe Doctor when they hear the word vegan.
Another way is to drive straight in. Own the experience, speak from the heart on why it’s important to you , you never know, maybe you’ll inspire a friend or even your entire family to join in Veganuary with you.
There are informative popular documentaries you can watch:
- Dairy is Scary
- Forks Over Knives
BEFORE THERE WAS VEGANUARY THERE WAS GARY!!!
Watch what turned VLV founder from
long term veggie to vegan in
Gary Yourofsky’s best speech.
More of an avid reader, here are some books to check out :
- How Not To Die – Dr Michael Greger
- Animals – Johnathon Safran Foer
- The China Study – Dr T Colin Campbell
- The Face on Your Plate – Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason
- How to Go Vegan – Veganuary
- Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety – Moby
Remember to enjoy
That’s pretty much our Guide to Veganuary covered. We hope you got all the information you need to give it a go. Just remember that the most important part of all this is to enjoy the process, especially as you’re learning to try new things. You can make some positive change & you’ll be all the better for it.
And if you are looking for tips and advice on how to dress vegan and fashion as activism, follow us on Instagram.