Welcome to the start of the rest of your life.
Veganuary is the world's largest vegan movement which, so far, has inspired over half a million people to try a plant-based diet. It is a pledge to go vegan for the 31 days of January (and hopefully continue after) - This means no meat, no dairy, no eggs, or any other products of animal origin. There are so many reasons why this is important including...
Preventing animal suffering Every year more than 56 billion land animals (and many more sea creatures) are slaughtered for human consumption and many more suffer at the hands of the dairy industry.
Protecting the environment Animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental destruction including greenhouse gas emission, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and rainforest deforestation.
Improving your health Animal products have been linked to diseases such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and some Cancers. Plant-based diets have been shown to improve control and even reverse some diseases.
Here is my guide to starting a plant-based diet that will hopefully make your transition a little smoother.
Vegan foods do not contain any of the following:
Meat, poultry or fish
Any products derived from slaughtered animals (e.g. lecithin, rennet)
Animal carcass fats (e.g. suet, lard)
Eggs or egg derivatives
Milk or dairy products (e.g. butter, yoghurt, cream)
You may be worried that going vegan for Veganuary means you will spend a month eating nothing but fruits and vegetables. Whilst it is important to include lots of whole foods in your diet, going vegan definitely doesn't mean that you will miss out on all the foods you love!
There are so many great alternatives readily available, here are some of my favourite simple swaps for common food items.
Some foods only contain plant-based ingredients and no animal products, so are therefore accidentally vegan. These products were not specifically developed as vegan products, but are definitely enjoyed in the vegan community. These items can often be found in local supermarkets and you probably eat some of them regularly without even realising.
Check out some of my favourite 'accidentally vegan' items - You might be surprised by some of them!
Many new vegans are often caught out by foods which you would assume are vegan but unfortunately contain animal products so therefore are not vegan. These are often products which may be suitable for vegetarians or items which you just wouldn't expect animal products to be in.
I have included a small list of some products which are not always vegan - to be safe always check the labels and, if in doubt, Google usually knows the answer.
Do not be fooled by 'may contain' on labels. This is a cross contamination warning for people who suffer from allergies as they are made in a factory that handles these items. These foods are safe for vegan consumption, so long as they do not actively contain any animal products in the ingredients.
When entering a supermarket at the start of your vegan journey you may feel a little overwhelmed (I know I certainly did). There are the obvious fresh produce like fruit and vegetables you know will be safe but aside from that you may be totally clueless on what else to buy. Vegan products often have logos (such as these) to let you know that you're in safe hands. However some products which are suitable for vegans might not have these logos so it can be tricky.
There are some common brands, either fully vegan or produce well known vegan products, that you may notice in a variety of different stores. These include:
Many supermarkets have introduced their own vegan ranges or stock ranges that you may not find very often elsewhere. Here are some of my favourite brands and items you can commonly find in each of the major UK supermarkets.
When first going vegan, eating out was definitely the aspect I was most worried about. As I student living in a city, I love to go out and eat with my friends. Thankfully most large chain restaurants offer vegan options, which seem to grow every year. Here are some of the best chain establishments offering great selections for vegans.
Depending on which city you live in, you may also be lucky enough to have local vegan eateries. Some of my recommended places to visit across the country which are great for vegans include:
Doncaster - The Greenhouse Eatery
Norwich - The Tipsy Vegan
Nottingham - No. Twelve
Sheffield - Make No Bones
Get involved in the vegan community. Join Facebook groups such as Vegan Food UK and your local groups, this will allow you to interact with other like-minded people, share tasty recipes and find out about vegan events.
Try simple recipes. Throughout January I will be posting beginner recipes to introduce you to the world of plant-based food both on my blog and on Instagram @Josiewalshaw.
Watch some plant-based documentaries. There are documentaries aimed at all the different aspects of veganism; for animal cruelty (Dominion, The Land of Hope and Glory), the environment (Cowspiracy), and health (Forks over Knives, Game Changers, What the Health).
Learn about the other aspects of veganism. Being vegan isn't just about the food, it also involves avoiding materials which have been derived from animals (such as leather) and products which have been tested on animals (such as cosmetics).
Remember why you started. A few weeks in you may get a little frustrated and forget why you are doing it in the first place. Think back to what inspired you to go vegan to help you focus and motivate yourself to continue the change.
Don't worry if you slip up. None of us are perfect, it takes time to change the habits you have formed over your life. My advice is to learn from your mistakes and move on.
So are you ready to take the Veganuary pledge? Sign up here.