The Veganuary challenge is a great way to start your sustainability journey. For those of you who are new to Veganuary, it is a challenge run by a charity veganuary.com that usually runs through January and encourages people to try vegan food. Last year, a record number of people subscribed to Veganuary. Estimates suggest around 4.7% of the UK population gave up animal products in January. Interestingly, 87% of those taking part were women. No doubt, lots of people will be signing up for Veganuary this year, perhaps in response to Covid and wanting to have a healthier lifestyle.
You can actually complete the challenge at any point in the year but it has been tied into new year resolutions, as this is the time when most people think about making some kind of lifestyle change.
Veganuary is becoming so popular that many businesses are creating new vegan products to meet demand (remember the Greggs vegan sausage roll?). Celebrities such as Joaquin Phoenix, Paul McCartney, Chris Packham and many others follow a vegan diet and are encouraging people to make the change too.
Table of Contents
What is allowed in a vegan diet?
Following a vegan diet means excluding all animal products, including meat, dairy and eggs. By being meat and dairy-free for a month, you’ll be able to see how easy it is to eat this way and you’ll also be able to see the benefits that it brings.
Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change and environmental degradation. By eating vegan, you can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save resources such as water and land for future generations. There are so many benefits to a plant-based diet, including reducing your carbon footprint. In fact, according to one study, if everyone went vegan, it would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 70%.
Eating a vegan diet is also great for your health and can help you lose weight (if that’s what you’re looking to do!) Vegan diets are higher in magnesium, folic acid and phytochemicals than other types of vegetarian or omnivorous diets. This makes it easier to meet the recommended daily values of vitamins and minerals. A plant-based diet is also high in fibre and antioxidants, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Most supermarkets have a vegan range so you will be spoilt for choice and new products are added on a regular basis. You can try anything from vegan cheese to apple pie, even Krisp Kreme are joining in this year!
If you fancy eating out, there are vegan restaurants popping up around the country. Additionally, there are lots of apps that make it easier to find vegan options.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you make the switch to veganism. Veganuary has a wealth of information on the website, including an extensive list of recipes and meal ideas. Veganuary also has an app with tons of helpful resources, such as a food diary and a guide to vegan-friendly products. There are also many books and websites devoted to veganism, as well as online communities of people who can offer support.
Micro habits work best
If you don’t want to try plant-based meals for a full month, then try changing one food item at a time. Psychologically, you are more likely to be successful if you make changes to micro habits. Starting new micro habits like changing cow’s milk to oat milk will make a big difference in the long run.
Habit trackers for maintaining diet change
In preparation for changing eating habits, you could create a habit tracker to help maintain your new diet. Habit trackers are a great way to start and maintain better habits. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits provides a pretty comprehensive explanation of habit trackers and why they are so useful.
Food list changes:
A good way of preparing to change your diet is by making small changes to your food shopping list. For example, you could change milk to a plant-based alternative like Soy milk. Or you can make changes to food items on your shopping list such as opting for vegan cheese or by substituting meat for the vegan version alternative.
You can also try reducing your meat intake by opting for meat-free Mondays.
5 Top Veganuary Tips for Habit Changes:
Here are our five quick tips for changing your food habits if you want to start living an eco-friendly life. These tips work for changing to a plant-based diet and any other habits you want to change:
1. Why? Understand why you are changing your habits. Everyone is different – you may want to feel healthier (and be more eco-friendly too) but your motivation might be different.
2. What? Prepare yourself – decide on one micro-habit you want to start. It could be using plant-based milk instead of cows milk.
3. How? Try a habit tracker which helps you see what you are achieving each day. If you decide to use something to track your habits, pick no more than 3 habits that you want to change. at any one time.
4. When? Hack the triggers you already have to create a new habit.
5. Where? Choose where it will be easier to change your habits. We all use environmental cues all the time. For example, if you associate your living room with relaxing, avoid sitting down in the room until you have completed your new activity (e.g. exercising).
If this is the first time you are considering vegan food you might be looking for vegan recipes? Veganuary.com has an extensive range of recipes and meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, if you need more inspiration, you can check out these sites below:
Of course, Veganuary isn’t for everybody and there may be reasons why trying a meat-free diet isn’t an option even though a vegan diet can be cheaper. However, there are questions as to whether some foods are actually sustainable (e.g. almond milk). Diet changes even minimal changes can have a significant impact on saving money. In fact, a survey found that British people saved £2.8bn by cutting down on meat.
You may decide to adopt the vegan lifestyle completely and do more than eat alternatives to meat. Veganism is more than just eating vegan food. According to the Vegan Society, Veganism is:
“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”The Vegan Society
So, if you’re looking for a new challenge, why not give Veganuary a go? You may find that eating a vegan diet is the start of something more. You can find more information about the challenge on their website: Veganuary.com. And be sure to let us know how it goes! We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.