It's that time of year again - Welcome to Veganuary! This month is for everybody who is either starting to become a vegan, or simply wants to try the lifestyle in order to help our wonderful environment. This is because by becoming vegan, we can reduce our dietary greenhouse gas emissions and help tackle the problems in animal agriculture - one of the biggest contributors to climate change! A new year is the perfect time to try something new - so if you're a beginner or want some tips and suggestions, here's a little guide we've put together for going vegan this January.
Your essential nutrition
When we change our diets, it’s natural to worry about getting all the important vitamins and minerals we need. In fact, if you’re thinking ‘What the heck am I going to eat?!’ then have no fear! The key nutrients (and where to get them) are as follows:
- Protein, to repair cells and build strength: Search for beans, greens, peas, tofu, nuts, rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread
- Vitamin B12, builds DNA and helps keep your immune system healthy: Check out Marmite, nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks and cereals
- Omega-3 & Omega-6, essential polyunsaturated fats: Look out for ground flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds
- Calcium, for strong teeth and bones: We love kale, broccoli, fortified plant milks & fortified soya yoghurts
- Iron, for a strong, healthy body: Dark leafy veg, dark chocolate and sweet potato are all fab sources!
Veganuary.com have even shared a fantastic tick-list of their ‘Daily Dozen’, check it out! It shows how many portions of each yummy thing you need each day, all you need to do is tick them off.
Shopping for vegan essentials
It might surprise you to learn that you already eat many vegan foods. From bread to beans to biscuits, these accidentally vegan foods can make the rest of the month whizz by (especially since they're scrumptious!). They’re readily available in supermarkets and don’t need any special know-how. In fact, you probably have some in your cupboard already.
Vegan food on the go
Most of us don’t have time to make fancy porridge or salads every day, sometimes we just need to grab something quick. Don’t worry we’re here to help!
- Tea & Coffee: Most coffee shops and chains can provide plant milk for hot drinks, just ask! But don’t forget your reusable coffee cup when you go.
- Sandwiches: look out for vegan sandwiches, wraps and salads that contain things like roasted veggies, falafel, avocado and mushroom. Subway’s a good bet, they have vegan options and you can choose your topping and dressing.
- Greggs: In 2019, Greggs’ vegan sausage roll took the nation by storm. They’ve also launched their vegan steak bake with rave reviews! The new alternative to the baked classic includes Quorn, diced onions and vegan pastry.
- McDonalds: Even McDonalds can be veganised! Ask for their Vegetable Deluxe or Spicy Vegetable Deluxe Burgers without mayo. They’ve also launched their veggie dippers which are approved by the Vegetarian Society and are vegan compliant too!
- The Happy Cow: Download the Happy Cow app and find vegan & vegetarian restaurants in over 180 countries! Perfect if you need to find options on the move.
How do you know if something’s vegan?
Luckily, lots of products now say whether they're vegan. But there are many vegan products that don’t display this. It can make it tricky to figure out what is what - so here are our top tips to finding your vegan goodies:
- Allergens are listed in bold. This will show up some common animal products like eggs and milk
- Lactose-free and dairy-free are not the same as vegan, always check the label!
- There are lots of common non-vegan ingredients you might not have heard of: collagen, elastin, keratin, gelatine, isinglass
- Anything listed under ‘may contain’ is not an ingredient but may be present in the same factory. This doesn’t necessarily make the product non-vegan. Always best to double check!
Join the vegan community
There are loads of Facebook groups (official and unofficial) where you can share your experience, ask for advice and find great ideas. Here are some of our favourites: Veganuary, Vegan Recipes for Beginners, What Broke Vegans Eat.
Don’t try to do everything at once!
The transition to veganism can be a gradual process. It’s totally okay if your shoes and clothes are still made from leather or wool, or if your cleaning products still contain ingredients like beeswax. You’ve already made an important step on your journey, but if you are looking to make changes to your other lifestyle purchases, why not check out EcoVibe’s vegan collection here.
You don't have to have it together all at once with veganism - take the time to explore the lifestyle and learn to enjoy the process. Try to be kind to yourself - as long as you're trying to live in a way that causes the least amount of harm, you're still being vegan.
Got any of your own tips for going vegan? Share your knowledge and experience in the comments below. We're always excited to learn from our vegan community!