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If you're wondering how to survive Veganuary, you've got good reason to be looking for support. Going vegan after being a frequent meat-eater isn't easy, but it's especially tough in the middle of winter. Fear not: countless people have successfully gone vegan for January, and so can you, whatever your reasons for taking on this challenge.*
The following tips will help you not just survive Veganuary, but, hopefully, thrive on the power of plants and quite possibly change your eating habits for good.
Find vegan recipes to inspire you in our roundup.
1. Make a plan
You just have to give up meat, eggs, and dairy, right? Sounds easy, but it's actually really hard, especially the eggs and dairy part, if you've never done it before. A successful vegan diet is a well planned diet, always. So, do plenty of research before starting: learn to understand the different nutrient profiles of different vegan foods and best ways to cook them; if you need to, buy a couple of vegan cookbooks to help with meal ideas.
Finally, make a meal plan and stock up on foods according to said plan. You want to make it as easy for yourself as possible – waking up to a fridge well stocked with vegetables, oils, and sauces you need to create nice vegan meals is much nicer than finding yourself hungry and exhausted after the first day.
2. Pay attention to the protein content of your meals
One of the biggest challenges of surviving Veganuary is getting enough protein from foods that tend to be low in it. A healthy diet is a balanced diet, with an approximately equal intake of protein, carbs, and dietary fibre. Fibre and carb are not a problem with vegan cooking, but if you don't get enough protein, you'll likely find yourself constantly hungry and craving more carbs.
Fortunately, there are vegetables and other vegan foods that have a high-protein profile – make sure you have plenty of them in rotation. Healthline have an invaluable list of vegan foods rich in protein: print it out if you need to.
3. Make friends with world cuisine
Another potential pitfall of Veganuary is that you'll have traumatic flashbacks about soy afterwards. Soy sauce, soy beans, tofu, more soy...it can get boring quite quickly, not to mention nutritionally imbalanced.
Often we don't know where to start with vegan cooking, because most Western diets are heavily meat based. The solution? Make friends with your local Indian restaurant! Indian cooking is renowned for yummy vegan options that taste great and are filling. We also recommend trying out Thai and Japanese – both cuisines have excellent vegan options.
4. Vegan doesn't mean raw
Vegan good doesn't have to mean salad all the time – and we all need nurturing, warming food at this time of year. Take full advantage of oven cooking with nice plant oils like olive oil – and be generous. That butternut squash and sweet potato bake really will taste better with a bit more oil added.
5. Be kind to yourself
A challenge should not become a form of punishment; if you begin to feel that Veganuary is really taking its toll on your wellbeing, just go and have an egg or a slice of cheese, if you need it. Small slips are much better than constantly giving up and then going cold turkey again. Think of it as a process rather than something you have to be great at and enjoy from day one, and it will get easier.
* A vegan diet isn't for everyone. If you have a health condition of any kind (including mental health), always consult with your GP before trying to go vegan.