So yet another year has come and gone, the holiday season is fading into memory, and you are most probably considering getting back on track with a new health kick. January is the month in which we stop gorging ourselves on unhealthy foods, and start to think about what we are putting into our bodies. For some, January will take the form of a month away from alcohol. For others, it will be a month of intense exercise. But for a good many of you out there, this January will be one in which you forgo meat and other animal products, in something that has been labelled, Veganuary!
As tenuously linked as the name ‘Veganuary’ may be, going vegan for a month is actually not a bad idea at all. Veganuary has actually been running since 2014, although this year it seems to have hit new heights of notoriety, with plenty of TV segments devoted to it, and an equally plentiful amount of celebrities getting involved in it too. So why exactly is a vegan January worth a try? As it turns out, there are a few good reasons.
Meat-free January follows a meat-heavy December
Firstly, the chances are, that in December you ate more than your fair share of meat. Turkey, ham, ‘pigs in blankets’, prawns, and roast beef all feature prominently over the Christmas holidays, and if you are on the edge about trying a vegan diet, the overeating of meat in December will mean that you are probably in the best position to try out a new diet that doesn’t contain any at all! If there is ever going to be a time of the year that you may find yourself feeling a little sick of meat, January is going to be the most likely. Similar to the way many people give up alcohol for January, use that feeling of overindulging in the previous month to your advantage, and start the new year in the right frame of mind for a meat (and animal product) free diet.
The ethical argument
The next (quite obvious) point, is in regards to animal welfare. As mentioned before, we don’t judge your diets at Igluu (in fact our company is made up of meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans too), but if you are what some people refer to as a ‘reluctant meat-eater’, then taking even one month off from your usually carnivorous lifestyle will definitely make a difference. If you find that the diet and lifestyle isn’t as difficult as you first anticipated, you could even find yourself extending ‘Veganuary’ into...well, February and perhaps beyond.
Veganism for weight loss
If you happen to have added a few pounds on over Christmas (let’s face it, many of us have), going vegan for a month can help you trim down, and get back into shape before the year starts in earnest. This isn’t to say that lean, good quality meat is necessarily to blame for weight gain over the holidays, but processed and fatty meats are no friend of those looking to trim down. A month away from the bacon sandwiches, sausages, butter, full-fat milk, and chocolates, will help you keep the pounds off. And along with a decent exercise regime, you can find that excess holiday weight melting away quicker than expected.
Easier on the wallet, easier on the environment
It is also worth pointing out that avoiding meat and animal products is not only good for your health, it can also be good for your bank balance. After what is generally thought of as the most expensive time of year for the average family, avoiding expensive meats and cheeses will be a welcome change. Not only that, if you are someone that is quite environmentally conscious, the United Nations has recently been trying to push the idea that plant-based diets can help make a huge difference in a world where the overconsumption of meat is directly linked to some rather worrying global trends. So yes, veganism can be as good for your finances as it is for the world in which you live!
If at first you don’t succeed..
So you have your reasons to give the vegan diet a go, but are unsure how best to put your intentions into action? Well, there are a few pieces of advice that can pay dividends. Firstly, playing a little loose with the rules is not the end of the world. If you don’t manage to cut out meat or animal products completely, don’t give yourself a hard time about it. If you manage to cut 75% of animal products out of your diet, it is still a great effort, and one that you can improve upon if you so wish at a later date. Equally, if you manage to go vegan for a few weeks, then ‘fall off the wagon’, so to speak, there is no need to berate yourself or your effort. There are no Veganuary police as far as we are aware, and the occasional slip up should be looked at as a blip, and not a catastrophic failure.
Research, ask for help, and prep in advance!
If you feel a little lost at the idea of cooking vegan meals, look for help online. Ask vegan friends about recipes, and seek out vegan groups on social media to listen and interact with others who are living the vegan life. It can be daunting to completely change a diet to one that you have little knowledge of. Those who have lived the vegan life for years can let you in on the secrets that making mealtimes easier, what foods can take the place of your favourite meats, and how best to use new ingredients that will mask the void left by going meat-free.
Lastly (and you have probably guessed this one already), meal prepping is a great way to help you transition into your new meatless lifestyle. Once you find a recipe or two, it is much easier to simply pre-cook a few days worth of food, and know that there is something tasty and filling in the fridge waiting for you. If you are forced to cook from scratch every day, you run the risk of developing the culinary equivalent of writer’s block (especially when you aren’t as well versed in cooking vegan meals), which can lead you to reach for some of your meat-containing staples. Get your meal prep containers out of the cupboard, find a few recipes, and get prepping!
To get you started, here are 54 vegan recipes that are as tasty as they are varied. It is important to remember when moving to a vegan diet that you need to make sure your body is well-fueled with all the right vitamins and nutrients, and that simply cutting out animal products is not the answer to being a healthy, well-balanced individual. But with a little research, a few tasty recipes, and a will to change your habits, Veganuary may not be as tough as you first imagined. Who knows, it could even lead to a lifestyle change that lasts far longer than a month! You will only find out if you give it a try.