Veganuary: A New Journey Into the Vegan Lifestyle

Veganuary refers to vegan January. It's the movement to introduce and promote vegan eating to the public. Veganuary encourages everyone to go vegan for January to contribute to the environment, health, and animal welfare. The movement is brought to life by a non-profit organization that provides meal plans, celebrity cookbooks, recipes, and coaching emails for people who want to try vegan eating. In this article, you'll learn about the movement and how to participate.

5 Easy steps for a Veganuary

Eating vegan can be challenging if you usually consume lots of animal-based foods. However, you can certainly make it easier by taking these steps:

1. Start with shopping vegan

Being prepared is the first step to taking a journey for a vegan month. Habits majorly define how you eat if you're not prepared. The organization helps by providing meal plans so you can choose the meals you like and prepare a shopping list.

Veganuary includes a list to make vegan eating easier for first-timers. Here is the list of items you can buy for your first vegan shopping:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Replacements for vegan cooking and baking — agar-agar (substitute for gelatin), nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor and B12 support), vegetable stock (for flavor), miso, maple syrup (honey replacement), and so on.

Plant-based foods are generally less expensive than animal foods. Choosing naturally vegan foods can lower the cost even more.

2. Increase vegan foods gradually

Eliminating all animal foods at once can be challenging. Replacing some meals of the day with vegan alternatives can be a good starting point.

3. Vegan meals can be fun, too

The internet is full of vegan versions of popular meals. You can make almost every meal vegan. It can massively help if you incorporate a vegan version of food that you frequently eat.

Luckily, you can easily veganize meals. For example, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, and lentils are commonly used to mimic meat through proper cooking techniques, herbs, and sauces.

4. Natural, vegan foods are already in your fridge

You don't have to eat imitation animal foods, such as vegan meat. There are many options for naturally vegan foods, such as whole grains, oatmeal, legumes, beans, hummus, pasta, rice, nuts, seeds, nut butter, fruits, and vegetables. You can also create vegan milk, tofu, and tempeh with those fresh foods at home.

5. Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge

According to a study report, for 42% of the participants, the lack of knowledge is the main barrier to plant-based eating. Eating vegan is easier if you have basic nutritional knowledge to find alternatives to animal foods to create satisfying, nutritious, and balanced vegan meals.

As with most diets, it's possible to make a vegan diet healthy or unhealthy. If you eat highly processed vegan foods, you can encounter health problems, such as nutrient deficiencies and increased risk of chronic diseases.

Reasons to go vegan

People go vegan for various reasons, including but not limited to environmental, ethical, and health-related concerns.

Protection of environment

The livestock industry uses most of the agricultural land. It aggravates global warming and climate change. The production of meat requires over six times the amount of land, four times the water, and three times the fossil fuels compared to soy protein production.

Therefore, a vegan diet can be a more sustainable choice for the environment, unless environmentally unfriendly practices, such as long-distance air transport and deep-freezing, are used to prepare and transport some vegan foods and products.

Animal rights ethics

Animal rights and welfare are the apparent reasons behind veganism. Industrialized farming involves confining animals in small spaces, painful procedures without anesthesia, antibiotic and hormone overuse, selective breeding, etc. Veganism aims to live cruelty-free by avoiding consuming animal products.

Potential health benefits of vegan eating

A well-planned vegan diet may provide health benefits. However, carefully considering individual needs is necessary to avoid health hazards that nutrient deficiencies may cause.

Vegan and vegetarian people are shown to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Vegan and vegetarian diets tend to contain more fiber because of the higher consumption of whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Enough fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and bowel cancer.

Eating vegan and vegetarian is associated with lower body mass index, possibly because a vegan diet contains fewer bioavailable calories. Restricting calories has been shown to favor metabolic biomarkers, such as insulin sensitivity, for vegans and vegetarians compared to a Western diet, which is generally energy-dense.

A vegan diet is also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, preventing cell damage that otherwise causes health problems.

Be aware of nutrient deficiencies that may arise

Nutrient deficiencies may arise following diets that restrict certain food groups. A vegan diet has been reported to cause a lower intake of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, zinc, and selenium (higher quantities in animal foods).

To maximize the benefits of plant-based eating, try unprocessed foods for most of the diet. For example, you can make plant-based milk at home so it won't contain artificial sweeteners and additives, probably present in store-bought plant-based milk. Also, it's fresh and cost-effective.

Individuals have different nutritional needs. While eating vegan may favor one's health, it can hinder others. It's essential to consult your doctor before making significant changes in your diet.

Key takeaways:

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