By Freya Rawlins
Veganuary is upon us! For those that aren’t sure what that means, there is a campaign each year to try going vegan for January. Vegan + January = Veganuary. We thought it would be useful to share some tips for Veganuary, and how to get through it, as it isn’t always easy, first time!
What follows are some tips for Veganuary – this is how I went plant-based, and how my partner joined in on the journey, since prior to Veganuary both my partner and I were eating meat once or twice a day.
Swap like for like
The simplest thing to do is to swap like for like. If you like to eat sausages, swap meat sausages for vegan sausages. My all-time favourites are Linda McCartney rosemary sausages, but Beyond Meat also do great substitutes, and in all honesty it’s hard to find a bad vegan version these days! Here in Catalonia, there are many brands, in most supermarkets, like Heura Foods, VioLife, VeggiDeli and Kaukala. In fact, if you’re in the neighbourhood, you can have a delicious Beyond Meat burger or the tasty Coca Primavera right next to La Bruguera, at Bar l’Escola in the square in front of the church in La Pera, or grab a craft beer at our neighbours Dos Kiwis Brewing, and try their veggie burger or their veggie open toastie (both of which are available in vegan versions). And of course if you’ve asked for catering during your stay at La Bruguera, you can be sure to be in safe hands, with Chef Roger’s veggie or vegan retreat menus.
It’s not all beans, falafel and tofu
You don’t have to opt for the bean/falafel/tofu version of your meaty favourite. Many vegans I know prefer to opt for these substitutes because the “fake” meats can be too realistic, but if you, like me, didn’t give up beef burgers because you didn’t enjoy the taste, you can opt for those meat-like substitutes. But of course, try all the foods! There are so many vegan options that are different takes on the meat classics I would definitely encourage you to branch out and try new things. Going vegan doesn’t need to mean buying processed burger replacements, there is protein in so many plant-based foods.
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To be honest, this doesn’t last forever (unless you’re a planner – I am not). But while you adjust your diet from meat eating to vegan eating it might be useful to plan what you’ll eat for the week ahead. This way you’ll be able to shop for foods beforehand, you might need to go to a bigger supermarket to find what you need (I know in the UK that Sainsburys, Morrison’s, M&S, the Co-op, and Waitrose all have really good vegan ranges). Here in Catalonia there is a huge range at LIDL, and BonPreu, whilst Condis and Mercadona are not on the bandwagon much yet. In Girona and La Bisbal there are great health food stores where you can not only find lots of vegan options, but also shop in Zero Waste style, in bulk. L’Estuca, Bio Brots, and A La Menuda in Girona all have great selections of vegan foods. Molsa, in La Bisbal is stocked the rafters.
Be ready for body changes
Be aware that you might bloat. It’s likely you’ll bloat for a few days – don’t stress about it – it doesn’t last and it’s just because you’re eating more fibre. You might find some foods cause bloating too, for me its lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans, so make sure you wash them properly. You will likely also notice some pleasant bodily phenomena as the month goes on!
Find vegan content
Look for recipes, food bloggers (try Max La Manna (UK), or Marta Verges (Catalonia)) or , vegan activists (Ed Winters is fab), clothing, and makeup bloggers / social media users to help you navigate the vegan scene. Many things you use to use are not vegan, for me I didn’t realise most nail polish wasn’t vegan, and that many sweets which are vegetarian aren’t vegan because they use bees’ wax and honey. Even wine!! I found that by searching out those who had been doing this vegan thing for a while helped me learn what to look out for. You certainly won’t have missed that even the big fast food chains are releasing vegan alternatives. Whilst I’d never suggest heading to a major corporate behemoth like Starbucks’, it is heartening to see that they are ringing in 2022 by releasing a vegan “Tu’Nah” sandwich. And for those of us with access to Greg’s, you are in for a treat with the vegan sausage roll (and many others that they stock!).
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Think about what you like
Identify foods you like and look for vegan alternatives, I promise they’re out there! And if they aren’t, a recipe to make them will be. It is simply astonishing how many vegan alternatives there are out there – you simply hadn’t seen them until now because you weren’t looking for them.
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You’ll make mistakes. Don’t stress, this isn’t about perfectionism, it’s about trying something new.
Find your “why”
This for me was the biggest thing to help me keep it up after Veganuary. I chose to try Veganuary because I wanted to lower my impact on the planet, and it was something I could do immediately. Removing meat and dairy from my diet was the single biggest thing I could do to lower my impact, according to recent research, and I could do it straight away. I was in a privileged position to do so, I was healthy, lived in an area with many different shops and one which had an entire section dedicated to vegan foods. So, I made the choice to go vegan for the planet, this eventually grew to animal ethics too, and now I refer to myself as “plant-based”, over being a “vegan” because of many reasons which I’ll dig into on another day. But for now, ask yourself why you’re doing this, find this why, and remind yourself of this when you feel like you’re slipping, or you just need some hope.
If you would like to read more about Veganuary, head to https://veganuary.com/ . You can sign up any time of year, and once you do you’ll get tips, recipes, links, blogs and more, to help you through this journey. You can find them on Instagram too, here: https://www.instagram.com/weareveganuary/
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