If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Veganuary — and if not, don’t worry. That’s why we’re here.
Veganuary is an annual challenge inspiring plant-curious people all around the world to try veganism for the month of January. Put on by the UK non-profit of the same name, Veganuary’s campaign encourages individuals and corporations to make more compassionate choices through the first month of the year and beyond.
The organization offers free resources when you sign up for the challenge, but you can start your plant-based journey whenever, wherever and however.
Ready to give veganism a try? Here’s how to get started.
How to Succeed at Veganuary
“Vegan” can be a daunting term to many, but the truth is, it may be easier than you realize! Follow these tips to help you succeed and thrive on a plant-based diet year-round.
1. Adjust Your Habits
For many people, the most challenging part of making lifestyle changes is the adjustment to a new routine. Maybe you’re someone who grabs a Reuben from your favorite deli once a week or makes scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning. Whatever your habits, switching your routine can be intimidating.
Instead of quitting those habits, swap them for different ones. Order the seitan BLT or whip up a tofu scramble instead. You can keep the same traditions you’ve always had. Just make a few adjustments.
Related Article: Is It Vegan? 6 Ingredients to Watch Out For
2. Nail Your Meal Plan
Meal planning is an incredible tool that’ll make your Veganuary a breeze.
If you haven’t eaten many plant-based meals before, it can be natural to slide into old habits when you feel stuck. Prevent this by planning each meal of your week ahead of time, or at least each dinner, so you don’t get caught in the “What should we eat tonight?” oblivion.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be different every day! Know a recipe you love? Make enough for leftovers. Voila! Feed two birds with one scone.
3. Try New Things
Veganism is far from a restriction. There are tons of delicious ingredients and recipes to experiment with. You might end up introducing more foods to your diet than you’re eliminating! For instance, are you familiar with nutritional yeast? Tempeh? How about kala namak? All of these are staples of a vegan kitchen.
The plant-based world is truly astounding, so have fun exploring new flavors and dishes, and don’t forget your local vegan restaurants.
4. Start With What You Know
Let’s be honest: adopting a plant-based lifestyle can be overwhelming, even if it’s just for a month. The most daunting of all? Grocery shopping.
Good news: you don’t have to shop in the natural aisle or at Whole Foods exclusively. Tons of crackers, nut butter, pasta, cereals, canned foods and more are accidentally vegan (i.e., not intended to be vegan, but happily are). A glance at the ingredients list can confirm this, and you’ll be good to go.
Remember, you’ve eaten vegan foods throughout your entire life—you just didn’t realize it!
5. Track Your Nutrients
As long as you’re eating a diverse, plant-forward diet, there’s a good chance you’ll meet all your nutritional needs, but it’s not guaranteed. Vitamin B12, iron and protein are the primary nutrients vegans pay attention to, and some may use supplements to bridge the gaps. Apps like the nutrient-tracker Cronometer or food-focused Daily Dozen can be helpful tools to ensure you’re checking off those boxes.
Keep in mind that veganism is not a weight-loss diet, and we know that food tracking can be harmful or distressing for some people. Always consult a doctor, nutritionist or other health care practitioner before starting any supplements, or if you need help meeting nutritional needs.
Related Article: A Nutritionist’s Guide to Vegan Health During COVID-19
6. Find Some Friends
New challenges are always more fun when shared with others, so get a group of friends together and tackle Veganuary as a group! Other people can help you stay accountable, offer support and give you tips on how their journey is going.
Plus, there’s a good chance you already have some vegans and vegetarians in your life. Chat with them if you need advice, a pep-talk or even just a dinner date.
7. Be Gentle With Yourself
Some people go vegan overnight, while others need time to adjust before fully making the switch. Both are normal and totally okay! It’s fine if you forget to order oat milk in your coffee or have a craving you’re struggling to satisfy. This doesn’t mean you’re failing.
Each time you choose a plant-based meal, you’re doing something incredible for you, the planet and animal kingdom. Every step you make matters. Perfection isn’t the goal.
8. Set Some Goals
Whether you aim to continue your veg journey or make it an annual tradition, it’s good to set realistic goals. If full-on veganism is doable for you, that’s amazing. If eating vegan at home is what works for you, great. Having at least one plant-based meal a day? Perfect! Start where you can and see how it feels. Adjust your goals if necessary.
Even if you’re only in it for the month, consider what changes could be sustainable and work long-term for you. Then aim for that!
Related Article: Plant-Based vs. Vegan: What is the Difference?
Taking Veganuary Past January
The Veganuary campaign may target the month of January, but it certainly doesn’t have to end there. If you’re thriving in this new plant-based lifestyle, just continue!
The term “vegan” doesn’t have to ring true to you. You can define your labels, choices and reasoning however you wish. Don’t worry about the title. Instead, focus on leading a life that makes you feel good—physically and mentally.