Veganuary is upon us and, for beginners, the prospect can be slightly overwhelming.
So Veganuary virgins, here are some tips from someone who is not a perfect vegan but tries their best.
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Get the basic vegan items in your kitchen
Before you lunge for the vegan chicken nuggets, it’s important to have the basics taken care of.
This might sound obvious, but it’s often easy to forget to have everyday food items available during Veganuary.
Use this month to try different plant milks – there’s soya, almond, oat, rice, coconut, and more.
I personally have found oat milk goes best with tea, and is the closest milk substitute there is.
It’s so good, after my first Veganuary I stopped drinking cow’s milk altogether.
Make sure you’ve also got a good vegan spread – a lot of margerines actually have milk in them. There are many great alternatives on the market.
How to navigate a supermarket during Veganuary
Thanks to the growing popularity of the plant based diet, it’s easier than ever to find vegan food.
Most major supermarkets have a designated section for vegan items, and there are so many vegan alternatives you might find hard to tell the difference. Vegan mayo, for example, is fantastic.
When you’re shopping for foods, be careful to check the label. Most things will say “suitable for vegans” but others you just have to check whether there is milk, eggs, or meat in the ingredients list – these will be in bold.
You might be surprised by how many things are naturally vegan, but watch out for random dairy items in foods you wouldn’t expect.
Fill your fridge and cupboards with vegan meal ideas
For some, the concept of eating no meat or dairy is staggering. They imagine we live off just air or lettuce leaves all month.
They couldn’t be more wrong. Vegan food is varied and delicious.
There is sometimes a temptation to rely on meat alternatives. Fake mince, sausages, and burgers can be a great substitute if you have a craving or can’t think of what to make for dinner.
But don't forget there’s a world of fruit and veg out there which doesn’t always need fake meat to be an incredible balanced meal.
Here are some meal ideas to get you started:
Stir fry – add tofu or use mushrooms for protein Chilli con carne – use mushrooms and beans instead of meat Curry – use your favourite veg Pasta – try a classic tomato sauce, or pesto and roasted vegetables Vegan shepherd’s pie – use vegetables and mushrooms Fajitas – most kits you can buy are vegan, just add vegetables and mushrooms
Don’t despair if you make a mistake
There’s a lot of judgement when you decide to try going plant based.
Some people delight in the idea of vegans having a weak moment and ordering a chicken burger on a night out.
But, if you slip up, that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Just keep going for it with the knowledge you’re doing a nice thing for animals and the planet.