If you've ever considered giving veganism a go, now's the time to be thinking about switching to a plant-based diet. Veganuary has become very much a thing over the past few years – in 2022, over 629,000 people joined in – and it's the ideal opportunity for anyone thinking about switching to a vegan lifestyle to take the plunge.
That said, it's one thing to dive into Veganuary with the best intentions, but it's a whole other matter to get to the end of it – and potentially carry on afterwards – successfully. Changing over to a completely meat-free life overnight, or even just levelling up from vegetarianism to veganism, is a big step, and if you go into it blind, you could be setting yourself up for failure.
Preparation is key to making it through Veganuary and feeling the full benefits of a meat-free diet (to learn what those might be, see our article on 5 things that happen to your body if you go vegan for a month), so to help you get ready, we've put together some helpful tips that'll make things less of an ordeal and, who knows, maybe even a pleasurable experience. Read on to discover the best ways to make Veganuary a success for you.
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1. Sign up at the Veganuary website
For the most straightforward way to set yourself on course for a successful Veganuary, head to the official Veganuary website and sign up there. Signing up means getting pretty much all the resources you're going to need sent straight to your inbox, including Veganuary's own celebrity cookbook, a one-pot meal plan, vital nutritional advice and a series of coaching emails to help you keep going throughout the month and potentially beyond. Realistically that should be all you need, but best to keep on reading these tips to be on the safe side!
2. Start stocking up now
If you decide to do Veganuary at the last minute, you're almost certain to run up against a brick wall sooner rather than later, simply because your kitchen isn't stocked with all the basic pantry items you'll need to prepare vegan meals (not to mention vegan snacks to keep you going between meals).
You don't want to have to fall back on the non-vegan ingredients in your cupboards, so to do things properly you'll need to clear them out and restock. Here's a really useful guide to stocking a vegan pantry; you're unlikely to need everything on the list, but once you've checked out some vegan recipes (we'll come to that in a bit) you'll have a clearer idea of what you should shop for.
3. Get to grips with nutrition
Bad news: just because your diet is vegan doesn't automatically mean it's healthy. That means you need to get a handle on nutrition to ensure your body's getting everything it needs as you head in to Veganuary. With the right vegan foods, you can ensure you'll be getting all the protein, calcium, iron and essential fatty acids you need, however the one thing that's harder to get through a vegan diet is vitamin B12, so stock up on supplements. For more info on nutrition, see the tips on the Veganuary site.
4. Find some vegan apps
While Veganuary's own emails should provide you with plenty of help in transitioning to a meat-free life, there are plenty more resources you can call upon including useful vegan apps. One really useful app is VeganScan, which will make shopping for food a lot less of a minefield: simply scan barcodes on food items and it'll tell you whether they're vegan-friendly or not.
If you're looking for somewhere to eat out in Veganuary, HappyCow is a must-have as it'll point you at all the best vegan restaurants near you; remember that January's traditionally a quiet time for restaurants after Christmas festivities, so by going out for a vegan meal, you'll not only be saving yourself some cooking, you'll also be supporting a local vegan-friendly business. For more essential vegan apps, see Veganuary's comprehensive list.
5. ...and some vegan recipes
Once you've stocked your pantry, the real work for Veganuary begins when it comes to actually preparing your vegan meals. This is one area where you really can't wing it by simply substituting beans for beef, for example; if you want Veganuary to be an enjoyable experience you're going to need tried and tested recipes, and it definitely helps to think ahead and plan your meals in advance.
As ever, Veganuary itself rides to the rescue with a huge selection of vegan recipes from all around the world and for all tastes, from breakfast to dinner as well as snacks and sweet treats. There are even themed sections for particular dietary requirements, including gluten-free options and meals to help with weight loss.
6. Be prepared to slip
Even with the best-laid plans, you're likely to find it a struggle at times to get through Veganuary without slipping back into non-vegan ways, whether you're tempted by a cheese board, find yourself munching on a vegan-looking snack that turns out to be not quite so wholesome, or simply snap and order yourself a late-night burger.
These things happen, and while with decent preparation you should be able to avoid most slips, if you do stray from the vegan path in January, it's not the end of the world. Nobody said going vegan was going to be easy, so simply take it on the chin, learn from your mistakes and start afresh the next day. Good luck!