Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Why go vegan this January?
Veganuary is growing in popularity over the years with thousands of people taking part in going vegan for the month of January. Vegan means cutting out of your diet all animal -based products such as eggs, fish, meat, dairy and replacing with either vegan alternatives or whole-foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses.
Veganism is currently on the rise with currently 700,000 people adopting a vegan diet in the UK. Studies and polls suggest that over the next couple of years the number of vegans will increase to around 2.2million people. In 2018 168,500 participants signed up for the Veganuary campaign.
For the last couple of years, I have taken part and signed up for Veganuary for health-related reasons. Some people sign up for environmental reasons, for the love of animals, to help protect the planet and to start the year with good intentions. I would never recommend my clients to detox in January but I have at times really felt the need to feed myself delicious nourishing, healthy meals post-Christmas. I love the challenge and it helps fuel me for the dark, winter months of January and February. A vegan diet although restrictive can be incredibly abundant and delicious if you know how and what to eat. Here are my tips to help get you started!
What to eat on a Vegan Diet?
I would always encourage people to start and to focus on whole foods, this means foods in their natural state that haven’t been processed. All fresh fruits and vegetables are whole foods. A variety of vegetables that I like to base my vegan dishes around are as follows:
Aubergines, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Cauliflower, Beetroots, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage, Sprouts, Courgettes.
Legumes and Pulses are great additions to add to your vegetables, here are some of my favourites that add some bulk as well as delicious sources of plant-based proteins:
Chickpeas, Lentils, Haricot Beans, Black Beans, Butter Beans, Quinoa, Pearled Barley, Yellow Split Lentils, red lentils, Kidney Beans.
All of these legumes and pulses are full of plant-based fibre which is great for improving and supporting digestive health if you have slightly over indulged at Christmas!
I would then add to my dish once I have a vegetable source and a legume either some nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, oils and vinegars. Some off my favourite additions are:
Walnuts, Flaxseeds, Hemp Seeds, Chilis, Fennel seeds, Chia Seeds, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pine Nuts, Cashew Nuts, Olive Oil, Tarragon, Dill, Basil, Apple Cider Vinegar and Coconut Oil.
There are plenty of dairy free alternatives now such as almond milk, oat milk, pea and hemp which are great for making sauces with, to have in coffees and tea and to use in vegan desserts. I also like to add the following additions to my meals:
Hummus, Avocados, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Olives, Nut Butters, Sourdough Bread, Tahini and Coconut Yoghurt and Coconut Milk.
There are plenty of additional fruits and vegetables that you can eat on a Vegan diet these are just some of my personal favourites to get you started. In supermarkets you can now also purchase plentiful vegan granolas, cereals, oats, crackers and snacks.
All of these ingredients are delicious as hearty stews, buddha bowls, salads, soups or curries. There is plenty you can do and the perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen!
What to avoid on a Vegan Diet?
Although we have so many more options when it comes to plant-based, vegan eating and we can pretty much guarantee to find a vegan option on most restaurant menus, the free from market is also full of unhealthy ingredients and processed foods. Faux meat trends will continue into 2020 with vegan options for duck, fish, chicken and even goose hitting supermarket shelves. Previously faux meat alternatives would have been made from ingredients such as tofu, chickpeas, beetroot, mushrooms and are now being replaced with processed ingredients. You may get the feeling you are eating something meaty but it won’t necessarily be any better for your health.
Vegan processed foods are full of additives such as canola oil, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavours, sunflower oils and corn starch. A vegan diet is made out to be naturally healthier which can be true if you are following a plant-based whole food diet. Processed, vegan options full of additives should be avoided for those with sensitive digestive disorders. Faux meat options can leave you feeling bloated, lethargic and in terrible pain.
Some vegan alternatives contain natural ingredients, always make sure to read the packet and not fall for the ‘healthy branding’.
Tips for staying healthy this January
If you are looking to improve your health whilst taking part in Veganuary I would also recommend the following!
Try Replacing alcohol with non-alcoholic alternatives such as Kombucha. Kombucha is full of gut-friendly bacteria which will boost your digestive health!
Get plenty of sleep in January. Sleep will help with seasonal affectionate disorder, the January blues and help you reset for the year ahead!
Get Moving! Try and get outdoors in some daylight, go for a daily walk, a gentle jog or take up a new exercise class. Exercise is great for your mental health and will help you feel refreshed on the longer, darker days.
Finally get cooking and into the kitchen! Most people tend to avoid restaurants in January so it is the perfect time to get creative.
For more vegan recipes visit the recipe section on my website for plenty of inspiration!
Here is the link to sign up for Veganuary https://veganuary.com