Happy Veganuary! If you’ve never heard of Veganuary before, let me give you some insight. The Veganuary Challenge is an invitation to go vegan for the entire month of January.
There are all sorts of reasons to contemplate becoming a vegan. Some of us are vegan-curious because we’ve read the press coverage of how good it makes you feel, others are horrified by the cruelty creeping into the meat industry or accept that plant-based eating is a first step towards saving our environment.
Whatever your reasons for accepting the Veganuary Challenge, it’s an excellent way to explore becoming a vegan. 31 days is doable. If you’re currently a dedicated meat-eater, changing your diet for just a month doesn’t sound so bad – does it?
At the end of 31 days, you can revert to your old eating ways knowing you’ve given your body (and the planet) a little reset. Or a month can be long enough to make a permanent change. You may find you love the results so much that you become a plant-based eater for life!
What Is The Difference Between Vegan And Plant-Based?
A vegan lifestyle taken to its logical conclusion avoids not only consuming meat, dairy products, and eggs but avoids the use of any animal products. Many vegans for example refrain from wearing down jackets or leather shoes.
Following a plant-based diet is more flexible. Some people are 100% plant-based, basically following a vegan diet. Others will try to keep the animal products they eat to a minimum, making vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruits the stars of their dishes.
My Own Plant-Based Story
Four years ago I followed a 21-day vegan weight loss challenge. It wasn’t just that I wanted to lose a few pounds. I was disenchanted with farming practices where I lived in Northumberland near the Scottish border.
Herd sizes had doubled in the 20 years I lived there, distressed cows were rammed into massive sheds in the heat of summer and over-grazing was turning moorlands into upland desserts. Large-scale meat production was out of step with the local environment and ultimately our planet.
I found the first 2 weeks of following a vegan diet difficult. There was a lot of reading food labels and searching for easy vegan recipes. But I persisted and by the end of 21 days, loved the results. A convert to a vegan way of life. I lost 7 pounds in 3 weeks, loved the tasty vegan meals, and felt full of energy.
My 21-day challenge became a 2-year-long love affair with all things vegan. I’d probably still be vegan today except my animal-free diet ended 30 miles into an ultra race when I grabbed an egg-mayo sandwich at a checkpoint by mistake. I bit into the sandwich and thought that’s just what I’m craving.
These days I’m mainly plant-based and it suits me. I can go days or weeks eating vegan food but if I suddenly crave a certain food type I don’t deny my body. Strict vegans may disagree with my choices, but for me being mainly plant-based is enough. If everyone followed my approach to diet, the world would be in a better state.
Following A Vegan Diet
Going vegan can be intimidating at first but some of the delicious recipes on this site will convince you that eating vegan isn’t about deprivation.
Plant-based food is rich in variety with many different flavors, textures, and colors. With some careful planning, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit will provide almost all the nutrients you need. The main exception is vitamin B12. Most vegans take a supplement.
Meal planning will make the challenge easier and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. Start by researching vegan alternatives to your favorite dishes or experiment with new foods and flavors. Don’t be afraid to try different recipes and cuisines, as there is a whole world of delicious vegan food out there waiting for you to discover.
Veganuary has changed attitudes towards vegans. Eat out and most restaurants will have vegan options on the menu and during January, supermarkets are competing with each other to have the best range of vegan products.
Just be aware that not all vegan food is healthy – try and limit your intake of processed foods. Whole foods cooked fresh are your best vegan choices.
Protein Content Of Vegan Food
In a family of athletic meat-eaters, I’m slowly winning the argument that a vegan diet can have sufficient protein. That a bowl of chili beans and rice will hit protein needs after a long run – just as much as the beef chili version and will be a much healthier option for your body in the long term.
But protein content is something you need to keep an eye on. It’s alarming how many local restaurants will serve up vegan options with very little protein.
I try to eat complete protein combinations for all my meals. A complete protein contains all the 9 amino acids your body needs from the foods you eat.
Foods such as soybeans, quinoa, and hempseed are complete proteins in their own right but you can easily combine foods. For example, rice and beans together provide all your essential amino acids.
Vegan foods with high protein content include:
These foods have the added bonus of being high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Thoughts From Love Life Be Fit
Embrace the Veganuary challenge and I’m convinced you’ll love the results. Follow these Veganuary tips and find delicious recipes to entice your taste buds. You’ll soon notice the positive changes to your body.
Going vegan could just be for the month of January or it could inspire you to eat a plant-based diet permanently. Whatever the result enjoy the challenge – Happy Veganuary!