What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a month-long challenge that has taken place every January since 2014. The goal of the challenge is to encourage people to eat a plant-based diet. In 2020, approximately 350,000 people worldwide signed up, committing to go vegan for the month of January.
When we became vegetarians in January of 2013 we had no idea how our lives were going to change! We were very naïve and thought, “We’ll just stop eating meat…it’s as easy as that!”
We soon found out that it wasn’t quite that easy. After we started feeling sick (from overdoing it on processed foods) and realizing we had no clue what we were doing, we started documenting what was working and wasn’t when it came to being vegetarians. From that we created this site and podcast, so something good definitely came from our struggles.
If you’re new to vegetarianism or veganism (perhaps you tried participating in Veganuary) and are trying to figure this stuff out, we’re here to help! You can listen to us discuss our top 7 tips for a successful Veganuary and beyond by listening or read on for a quick summary of everything we discuss.
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7 Tips for a Successful Veganuary
Let’s get into our top 7 tips for a successful Veganuary and beyond!
1. Connect To Your “Why”
When Larissa and I became vegetarians in 2013, we did it for the animals. We watched a couple of documentaries (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and Vegucated) that laid the foundation for our big life change. We were so disgusted by animal cruelty that the thought of eating meat really disturbed us.
Some people are inspired by the health benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet while others are motivated by our current climate crisis.
Although Veganuary isn’t necessarily a permanent “life change” for everyone (some folks simply want to see if they can do it), connecting to your “why” is still important. Whatever your reason for participating, keep reminders of why it’s important to you nearby.
Revisiting your “why” throughout the month can help keep you motivated.
2. Plan and Prep!
Planning is a critical part of any successful lifestyle change. Without meal plans in place, it’s easy to go back to non-vegan meals that you already know how to make.
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3. Find Simple Recipes You Will Actually Eat
When we first became vegetarians in 2013, one of our biggest chores was finding recipes we would actually eat. Larissa is a VERY picky eater and I was a BIG meat eater, so we faced two challenges right out of the gate.
The easiest way to start finding great recipes you’ll actually eat is to make a list of some of your favorite go-to meals and implement simple tweaks to make them without animal products.
These days it’s SUPER easy to make a meat-free meal with just a few small changes. For example, how about trying a veggie patty on a but for a meat-free burger or using vegan cheese on your next pizza?
Yeah, ok…burgers and pizza aren’t all that healthy, BUT if you’re new to veganism you won’t want to bite off more than you can chew (pun intended) in the beginning. Easing into it by making small tweaks to familiar recipes will help you stay the course (yup, another pun!).
If you’re looking for some inspiring recipes, check out some of our favorite go-to foodie websites:
And, of course, don’t forget to check out our own recipes here at Vegetarian Zen!
4. Work On Changing Your Mindset
Many people (especially in the United States) grew up with meat at the center of their plates. It definitely takes an intentional mindset shift to change your eating style to plant-based foods. When meat isn’t on your plate, you may feel you’re missing out on something.
One way I’ve found to shift my mindset is to start with a recipe I already love (for example, enchiladas–one of my absolute favorite meals) and simply remove the animal products.
Rather than feeling like I had to give up enchiladas completely, I substituted vegan cheese for the dairy version and swapped out roasted or sauteed veggies for meat in the filling…and, presto! I still get to enjoy delicious enchiladas…minus the added cholesterol and saturated fat and without feeling deprived of anything.
There are also plenty of meat substitutes on the market these days that can help you create your own vegan recipes.
5. Connect With Others for Support
A great supportive group (even online) can keep you motivated and help you through challenges and obstacles. If no one in your immediate friends/family group is plant-based, try finding a friendly group online like our closed Facebook group, The Peas and Carrots Society.
The Peas and Carrots Society is a group of friendly and supportive folks who are helping each live a more compassionate plant-based lifestyle. We call this a “no-bully” zone and EVERYONE is welcome, no matter where they are on their plant-based journey.
I LOVE to journal and do so several times a week. If you’re not much into journaling, think of it simply as taking notes about your experience of following a vegan diet for a month.
Besides recording what you’re eating, also capture any challenges you encounter and successes you experience. Which things were surprisingly easier than you expected? Which were harder?
Capturing your thoughts might help you stay motivated, and may also help you later down the road if you decide to continue a plant-based lifestyle.
7. Don’t Try To Be Perfect!
One of the very first things we mentioned way back in episode one of our podcast is that a sure-fire way to kill ANY personal goal is to think you have to be perfect.
This “all or nothing” mindset can definitely stop you dead in your tracks.
If you have a slip-up, don’t give up. Try journaling about what circumstances caused you to stray from your goal, then pick yourself up and keep on going!
We hope you’ve found these 7 tips for a successful Veganuary helpful. For some extra motivation, accountability, and daily emails to help you along the way, be sure to sign up at Veganuary.com.
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa