January is a month of resolutions, fresh starts, and also veganism if you’ve decided to take part in Veganuary.
Veganuary is a charity that aims to help people go vegan for a month and raise money for animal and environmental welfare at the same time. They offer recipes, guides on supermarket food and where to eat out, and even a free starter kit to help you kick-start the month.
As someone who’s vegan, I love the concept of Veganuary and am always telling people how easy it can be if you’re willing to give it a go. So if you’re taking part this year or are just interested in trying it, I’ve got a few tips and tricks on how to succeed.
Try some of the vegan sweet treats on offer
During veganuary, you may not be able to eat the usual chocolate or fruity puds, but there are some wonderful vegan sweets available, and I’d highly recommend giving them a go while you’re eating alternatives.
Some of the best are Alpro soya chocolate desserts, dairy-free lemon cheesecake, and dairy-free vanilla ice cream. The Pudology range is also amazing, and dairy-free fudge is a winner. I’m also a huge fan of Lazy Days, as they do one of the best vegan millionaire’s shortbread around.
If you’re looking for chocolate, you have SO MANY options. Most supermarkets do their own brand of dairy-free chocs, but Moo Free are particularly tasty, Vivani do a large range of flavours, and Loving Earth have such creamy bars. If you want something a little more luxury, Booja Booja do a slightly pricey, but delicious set of truffles and other treats.
Look for alternatives rather than cutting things out
There seems to be a misconception that if you’re vegan you’re limited in what you can eat. Historically, this may have been true, but now, thanks to the growing demand for more vegetarian and vegan options, you can find alternatives for almost anything.
So instead of avoiding your favourite cheese or foregoing ice cream for the whole month (a crime, really), you can find plenty of alternatives in most mainstream supermarkets. There are plenty of meat substitutes, both branded and non-branded, and the dairy alternatives are increasing every day so make sure to check out the Free From and Meat Free sections next time you’re shopping.
Check the ingredients on the back of the label
Sadly, if something is labelled vegetarian, it doesn’t mean it’s always vegan. In fact, most products will contain some form of milk and egg, so it’s best to check the individual ingredients on the back if a product doesn’t specifically state it’s vegan.
Sometimes things you’d expect to be vegan, like guacamole or muesli, have extra ingredients like cream or skimmed milk power in that make them veggie but not vegan. So if you’re not sure, spend an extra few moments looking, just in case!
Don’t sweat it if you make a mistake
If you’re giving veganism a try for the first time and you accidentally eat something that’s not vegan, don’t worry. It’s difficult to check every single label for ingredients, and some foods like fresh bread won’t even have them, so if you slip up, in the infamous words of Elsa, let it go.
Accidentally eating something that’s not vegan doesn’t mean that you’ve ‘failed’ Veganuary, and it certainly doesn’t stop you from continuing with the rest of the month. There are plenty of people who’ve been vegan for years and still eat something by mistake. The best thing to do is just put it behind you and continue giving Veganuary your all.
Look out for ‘accidentally vegan’ foods
There are lots of foods that just ‘happen’ to be vegan without meaning to, but why not take advantage of them? Some of the more well-known examples of these are Oreos, Skittles, and Bourbons, but for more extensive lists have a look here and here.
Chat with other people in the community
When you’re trying something for the first time, sometimes the best thing to do is ask someone who’s been doing it a while. Most vegans will be more than happy to give you advice or help if you need it, so ask around on Twitter, join Facebook groups, or head to the Vegan society’s Youtube channel and drop them a comment; they’ll be able to answer any questions. Sometimes the most valuable tips and tricks come from off-the-cuff comments, rather than official how-to guides. You might get some of the best advice on events to attend or shops to try from people rather than websites! They’ll probably even offer you recipes too.
If you’re thinking of going vegan, or just curious about the lifestyle, I’m more than happy to discuss it in the comments and answer any queries or uncertainties. I certainly don’t know everything, but I’ll always try to help.
Finally, if you’re doing Veganuary or going vegan for the first time, well done for making a change that benefits animals and the planet. Keep it up!