Along with all the other New Year’s resolutions, we’ve all heard about people going plant-based for January. So, what’s the deal?
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a non-profit organisation supporting people to try going vegan. Every year it challenges people to switch their diet for January, and maybe even beyond.
That’s all there is to it - you just skip animal-based products for 31 days, dairy and eggs included.
The Veganuary campaign has been running every year since 2014, so maybe 2024 is your turn to try.
If you’ve ever considered going vegan, Veganuary is a great place to start - it can be a good way to see if you’ll enjoy the diet change and figure out how it might fit into your lifestyle.
It can take a fair bit of planning to make sure you get all the nutrients you need, but many think it’s worthwhile since Veganuary benefits can include increased energy, improved mood and better skin, according to the organisation.
Why go vegan?
‘But why would you want to go vegan?’, you might ask. Well, there are a whole load of reasons people might choose a plant-based diet, and a lot of the time it can be very personal.
We’ve rounded up the top 5 that might help you decide whether to give the Veganuary challenge a go.
A balanced diet is the key to good health, and the fact that veganism encourages us to eat more fruits and vegetables is no bad thing.
Whatever you eat, it’s important to limit processed foods and focus on fresh, and this means a vegan diet can be rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Since vegan diets often include lots of healthy foods, research has linked it to lower BMI which can contribute to ‘lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes’.
However, because you’re cutting out certain food groups, it’s important to make sure you’re getting all those key nutrients. Keep reading for tips on how to get everything you need from a healthy vegan diet.
For the animals
There are lots of animal-lovers out there who don’t want to see them suffer.
Since animals are living beings like us, many believe that they also have a right to life and freedom, which are often taken away when they’re kept as livestock.
Going vegan reduces the demand for meat and dairy products which, according to The Vegan Society, “is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation everywhere”.
For the environment
At HeroGo, we’re all about protecting the planet, so of course the Veganuary environmental impact comes pretty high up the list.
To sum it up, the more animals we keep, the more crops are needed to feed them, and this contributes hugely to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and water pollution.
Not only that, but keeping livestock is a huge drain on resources. One study showed that producing 1kg of protein from beef needs around 18 x more land, 10 x more water, 9 x more fuel, 12 x more fertiliser and 10 x more pesticide than producing 1kg of protein from kidney beans.
For other people
That leads us on to the next point - going vegan can actually help others.
Many animals consume more calories than they produce. National Geographic notes that “for every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef”.
While 783 million people still go hungry, some may consider it inefficient to waste land and resources rearing animals knowing we won’t get the full potential calorific value.
If going vegan can help fight hunger, why not try it?
For the super tasty food!
Not everyone likes the taste of meat and the delicious fresh vegan food can be much more appealing.
A vegan will eat lots of whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds too, which can be used to create incredible dishes full of wonderful flavours.
Tips for eating vegan
Doing Veganuary doesn’t have to be difficult - get to know your foods, get to know what your body needs, and then it’s simply a case of getting creative with easy Veganuary recipes.
A vegan diet may be low in calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and omega-3, but with just a few substitutions, there’s no reason why you can’t get all these nutrients from vegan dishes.
Calcium is needed for healthy bones, but if you’re not eating dairy, you can get your dose from pulses, dried fruit and green, leafy veg like broccoli and cabbage.
Iron from plant-based food isn’t absorbed as easily as iron from meat, but it’s essential for producing red blood cells. Good vegan sources of iron include nuts, wholemeal bread and flour, and dark green, leafy veg like watercress and spring greens.
Vitamin B12, also found in meat, fish and dairy, is important for the blood and the nervous system. Vegan sources are limited but include yeast extract, breakfast cereals fortified with B12 and unsweetened soya drinks fortified vitamin B12.
Finally, omega-3 - found in oily fish, it helps to maintain a healthy heart. While plant sources might not reduce the risk of heart disease in the same way, it’s important to eat it to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Walnuts, chia seeds and rapeseed oil are vegan-friendly sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Check out our blog for the best Veganuary recipes that’ll help you make the most of your January 2024 challenge.