I meant to write this a while back, but here I am, one day before the new year and the beginning of Veganuary. Urgh. If you’re going vegan this January, for a month or forever, I promise to try and do things ahead of time and manage my time better. Not that it matters to anyone but me.
If you’re reading this, I guess you’re already familiar with what Veganuary is. I’m also assuming you’re here for some advice on how to make your vegan month a success or at least make it more bearable. Nervous, already feeling like giving up? Stahp. Research shows that it takes 21 days to pick up a new habit (healthy or otherwise…) so give it a try, it may end up changing your life, such as it did for me almost 10 years ago now.
Here are some tips I’ve gathered. Please get in touch on Instagram where I am most active and let me know how you get on + ask as many questions as you want. There’s little in life I feel more strongly about other than veganism. So congrats on reading this in the first place and let’s get cracking!
Find a Veganuary Buddy
Doing anything alone is always harder, so why not partner up with someone? This may be difficult if you live with a partner or flatmate who isn’t doing the challenge, so perhaps there’s an incentive for them to humor you in this? It’s only a month long, what could you do in return for them the next month? Why, sexual favors, of course.
I originally went vegetarian and then vegan with my then partner and, admittedly, had it not been for him, I don’t think I would have been able to do this on my own.
So find a pal or an accountability buddy, and if you can’t, reach out to me!
Find your one Meaningful Reason to do the Switch
There are dozens of reasons why going vegan is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and the planet, but finding the one thing that strikes a chord with you the most is essential. Document yourself and find what you’re most passionate about.
Fitness is what did it for me.
As I said, I went vegetarian before going vegan (and here’s a very old article about it) and the appeal of sports performance was the biggest lure. After several years of smoking, eating crap and being a couch potato, I had a moment of panic before entering my 30s and decided that I did not want to age into a gross old flapjack (?). I first started working out at the gym, then I started running, and quickly signed up for a first half-marathon. Inspired by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier and his book “The Thrive Diet”, as well as Matt Frazier known as No Meat Athlete, I found something I was passionate about that would make these new habits stick. And they really did!
Subscribe to Veganuary
Veganuary isn’t just a name, it’s a full non-profit organization that’s there to promote veganism and support people in their transition by offering tips and advice. Lazy? Take the pledge and sign up to their newsletter to receive daily recipes, tips and more right to your mailbox. Reading this and it’s not January? No problem! You can start Veganuary — and sign up to take the pledge — at any time of year.
Knowledge is power, and I would have never been able to transition to a vegan lifestyle had it not been for documentaries. I so happened to be in university studying design while I transitioned, so I used veganism as my research topic for a lot of my work. Here’s a fun website I did as part of a jquery class, haha.
Below is a list of my favorite documentaries:
Clean up Your Kitchen
Increase your chances of a successful Veganuary by making a few adjustments to your kitchen pantry. First, by getting rid of animal products – this includes gravy, stock, butter, and all non-vegan baking supply. But please don’t throw them away! Give them to someone. Someone you don’t like, preferably.
Second, get a few vegan pantry staples. This includes nutritional yeast to make everything taste cheesy, tempeh for a great meat replacement, chia or flax for egg replacement, a good butter replacement (Earth Balance was my favorite in North America and now I swear by Naturli in Europe) and milk replacement (Oatly Barista Edition is my fave of all time). Also, something salty for those cheese cravings — olives and roasted smoked almonds do it for me.
Processed vegan products such as sausages, burger patties of veggie ground meat are good for transition periods but don’t rely on them in the long run unless it’s for an occasional treat. If you live in Europe, the fake dairy products are heaven (well perhaps they’ve evolved since I lived in Canada and the vegan yogurt tasted like wallpaper glue). Just give new things a try! You may be surprised — pleasantly or otherwise. Just be curious.
Easy Vegan Recipes
Finding vegan recipes that are both easy to make and delicious is key. I’m a very lazy cook and I often only eat steamed veggies, crunchy oven-baked tempeh in some sort of dressing, or lentil dahl, but this works well for me. Find a few good websites and be ready to have your mind blown at the amazing array of tastes you can get from vegan cooking.
Below are some tried and tested recipes that I keep making over and over again. You can also follow my vegan cookbook Pinterest board.
- Black Pepper and Thyme Crusted Tofu
- Green Goddess Burgers
- 10-Minute Raw Vegan Taco “Meat”
- Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri & Baby Spinach
- Corn Chowder
- Creamy Vegan Polenta with Mushrooms and Spinach
- Vegan Butter Chicken
- More quick and easy vegan recipes!
Don’t panic, shit will happen. It always does. When you go out, when you travel, when you’re invited over. Shit happens to me still. We’re all human, and we’re trying our best. Having a slip doesn’t mean we failed, that’s something important to remember. Make sure you download the Happy Cow app for when you go out, and always offer to bring something when you get invited for dinner.
Repeat after me: shit happens. Easy does it. You got this.