Founded five years ago, Veganuary has seen the number of people pledging a vegan January doubling every year since. There are a range of reasons an individual might chose veganism – environmental factors, ethical concerns around animal welfare, health and nutrition. For some, Veganuary is simply an attempt at a January detox; a gift to oneself if you will.
Whilst some ethical and health claims over the benefits of a vegan diet may be contested, the positive environmental impact of shunning meat and dairy is now well documented. As the University of Oxford’s Joseph Poore says, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”. It’s never been easier to give veganism a go either. The Veganuary website is a great place to start and contains hundreds of recipes searchable by type or ethnic cuisine. Food blogger ‘Hummusapien’ has collated some great kid-friendly vegan recipes too.
However, even with all the help out there on the web, transitioning from omnivore to vegan can be tough. So if you need some extra support or all this talk of Veganuary is persuading you to give it a go, here are some of the things we’ve learnt so far.
It’s easy to make your own dairy-free milk
Cow-free milk is nicely nestled into everyday life these days. Buying these milks can be more expensive than cow’s milk though, so making your own not only saves money but, is also more environmentally friendly. The easiest and cheapest to make at home is oat milk – soak one cup of oats in four cups of water, blend and strain.
Coconut is your best friend
Not only is coconut oil good for cooking but also, you can spread it on toast as an alternative to butter. Coconut milk or cream makes lovely, creamy curries and desserts.
It’s a good idea to take B12 supplements
We need Vitamin B12 to stay healthy but it isn’t naturally found in plant-based foods; the main source of B12 is from meat and diary. Therefore it is recommended that vegans either regularly consume food fortified with B12 (like some cereals, and the vegan’s favourite, nutritional yeast flakes), or take a supplement.
You can still have a weekend fry-up
Love your Sunday brunch? Enjoy it vegan! Vegan sausages are widely available in supermarkets, egg can be replaced with scrambled tofu and you can make delicious homemade hash browns. BBC Food has a simple recipe guide.
You can still have chocolate (and cake, and ice-cream)
Yes you can still enjoy your Fairtrade chocolate, just make sure it’s dark, very dark. Vegan desserts have come a long way too; you could serve the “ice-cream” to anyone and they’d never guess it’s vegan. As a simple swap, vegan margarine and/or oil is often used to make baked goods from cookies to birthday cake.
Help is on hand when eating out
Again the Veganuary website comes to the rescue here with an extensive listing of mainstream eateries so you can plan ahead and still enjoy a meal out.
Not all wine is vegan
If you are a strict vegan you will quickly realise that there are a lot of hidden pitfalls when avoiding animal products. Wine and beer presents one such problem because many are processed with animal products such as gelatin or egg whites. Some of the online supermarkets allow you to filter for vegan wine, or you can try this website for more information.
And finally, although we at The Ethical Gift box don’t sell wine (sorry about that) we do have a range of other vegan gifts. So if you have a friend or relative sticking with Veganuary you can still buy them a present without the anxiety of buying the wrong thing.