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Veganism beyond Veganuary

Over half a million people signed up for Veganuary in 2022 in the UK (and it’s estimated that this number will be even higher in 2023 and 2024)

Over half a million people signed up for Veganuary in 2022 in the UK (and it’s estimated that this number will be even higher in 2023 and 2024) – making the pledge to go vegan for a month. Perhaps you were one of them? If you have tried veganism for a month and have decided to keep going afterwards, what do you need to consider? How easy is it to go fully vegan and what can you do to make the transition to a plant-based lifestyle easier?

Becoming a vegan has never been more straightforward – if you have tried it for a month you’ll already know that supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways menus now all commonly offer vegan options. To help those of you making the change to vegan living, here are five tips for adopting these principles into your everyday lifestyle.

1. Tell your friends and family

The conversation with loved ones about going vegan can vary depending on whether you have vegan relatives, or if you’re the first in your family or friendship group. Also knowledge is key to understanding; if your family and friends don’t know much about plant-based living they may have concerns about dietary needs and more commonly may just not understand your choice.

Why is it important to tell your friends and family about your decision to go vegan?

  • They can help keep you on track – there’s nothing like other people to help keep you accountable for your new way of living.
  • They can be prepared for special events – whether it’s a family Christmas meal or a friend’s birthday, letting your loved ones know you’ve gone vegan gives them the heads-up to choose vegan friendly restaurants and dishes.
  • They might want to join you – when you explain why you’ve made this choice, whether that’s because of health, environmental reasons or animal cruelty, your loved ones might not have heard that information before. You may find people wanting to join you in your new lifestyle choice!

The vast majority of people you tell will be happy with the news. For those that aren’t, here’s a few ways how you can help family and friends to adjust:

  • Reassure them about the health concerns – parents in particular can worry about whether you will get all of the nutrients you need. You could direct them towards websites like the Vegan Society and explain how you have thought through this choice.
  • Be ready to explain, not argue – if things do get heated, suggest that you talk about it another time. Often seeing you living out your choice to be vegan will help people to understand plant-based living.
  • Be a considerate vegan – offer to cook a plant-based meal or to bring a vegan main course for yourself, and make enough for others to try!
Veganuary People 09

2. Speak to your GP or Doctor before you start

A vegan diet can be really healthy and great for getting plenty of plant-based goodness. However, like any diet, it can also be unhealthy; vegan ‘junk food’ also exists! It’s about getting the right balance and ensuring that you are plugging any nutritional gaps from a plant-based diet. The first step is to see your GP or Doctor. You can get a general health check-up, speak about any specific issues related to your personal health needs and also get some general advice about potential nutritional gaps.

Vegans and vegetarians are often recommended to consider a dietary supplement. Vitamin B12, for example, which is vital for your metabolism, immune system and energy levels, just isn’t present in a plant-based diet. So vegans and vegetarians are often directed towards supplements with B12 and other essential vitamins, like Vitamin D3 and Omega 3 DHA and EPA. It’s important that you understand not just the vitamins you need but also the ideal form to be most effective for your overall health. Your GP or Doctor can advise you about this before you get started.

3. Prepare your kitchen

A great way to embrace going vegan is to have a spring clean of your kitchen cupboards. If you have lots of tinned and packet foods that are not plant-based, you could consider making a box of goodies for a family member or friend who is a meat-eater, or alternatively you could donate any leftover products to the local Foodbank.

Once you have made room in the cupboard, it’s a good idea to stock up on some vegan cupboard staples. Here’s a few to add to your shopping list:

  • Vegan stock and seasoning – to add to many dishes for a good dose of flavour
  • Tinned beans, vegetables and chickpeas – it’s always handy to have a tin in the cupboard to add to recipes
  • Dried pulses and lentils – ideal for soup and vegetable bakes
  • Dairy-free milk

Buying a good vegan cookbook can open up a whole world of recipes and tasty treats. There are lots of options in bookshops. There are also lots of free recipes online for everything from vegan breakfast options to cakes and treats.

4. Get to know your local vegan restaurants

The good news is that there has never been a better time to eat out as a vegan. Many larger chains (for example Wagamama) and many independent restaurants now offer a vegan menu, with a range of choices for those eating plant-based. Find your favourite restaurants and do a bit of searching online before you head out to make sure you will have lots of choice. You can also get vegan takeaway – whether that’s curry or pizza, getting to know your local options will help you to stay on track with your lifestyle.

Is It Really as Healthy as People Say?

The final thing to say is that going vegan is a lifestyle change. For some going fully vegan straight away is the right option, for others making smaller changes over a longer period of time is a better option. Choose the right way for you to make the switch and be aware that whether it takes a day, a week or a period of months, making that change will have a long term positive impact on the environment and its ecosystems. Don’t feel guilty if you slip up or have the occasional cheat meal at the start. Just get back on track and use the mountain of resources online, like the Vegan Society, to help inspire and motivate you in Veganuary.