Along with New Year’s resolutions, Dry January and Movember, Veganuary has gradually made its way into the mainstream seasonal trends of the western world, during which we attempt to make a difference to ourselves inside and out. The idea of Veganism has essentially been around for over 2,000 years but has become much more mainstream in recent years.
Incredible statistics show that the number of vegans in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and 2019 and more than 1,200 new vegan products and menus were launched for Veganuary 2020. Vegans and vegetarians are also set to make up a quarter of the British population by 2025, and Veganuary has had a record-breaking year this year not only by having more people signed up than ever before — a whopping half a million — but for reaching their target for sign-ups in record time! It has certainly come a long way.
So, do I just make sure I don’t eat anything derived from an animal? Well, basically yes… However, starting out could seem a little daunting with the overwhelming options now available. Here at Maple & Co, we’ve teamed up with the experts to put together our Top 5 Do’s and Don'ts. If you’re keen to give this month or even the next a go, take a quick read below.
Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts
1. Don’t just go for the junk food
I think it’s safe to say, just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s ‘healthy.’ With the rise in demand for vegan products, companies have strived to create alternatives to look and taste similar to meat and dairy. However, in order to do this it usually means that numerous chemicals, stabilisers and artificial sweeteners are needed to achieve this. I mean fake meat burgers and vegan chicken nuggets are great but you wouldn’t want to have them for every meal, would you?
2. Start simple. It’s all about the whole foods
Don’t over-complicate things! All the wonderful recipes and foods we know originate from whole foods and that hasn’t changed. What are whole foods? Foods in their most natural forms with as little processing as possible. The beautiful thing about trying to go vegan is that you’re forced to eat more fruit, vegetables and legumes. And, why is that good? Because you’ll be absorbing all the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre without the excess calories to keep your gut healthy. So don’t worry if you see all these fancy vegan alternative recipes, simple and easy is always a good way to start.
3. You can veganise anything
One thing a lot of people say when they convert is that they’re afraid they’ll miss their favourite meat or dairy dish. Fear not! You can actually veganise ANYTHING. There are now a wealth of ways that you can make vegan alternatives of recipes, from pulled jackfruit (instead of pulled pork) and brownies to burgers and spaghetti bolognese. It’s a great chance to be creative with cooking.
4. There’s protein in everything. The key is variety
Another thing people worry about — especially athletes or fitness enthusiasts — is achieving their protein goals. Sources such as soy beans (tofu, tempeh, edamame) and quinoa are complete protein sources, which mean they contain all the essential 9 amino acids that the body does not create themselves but must obtain from food; whilst sources such as lentils, rice, chickpeas and nuts are incomplete and simply need to be mixed and eaten together. The key is variety… Which really applies to all foods.
5. Eating out (when we actually can, of course)? Call ahead to double check
It’s pretty rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer vegan options on its menu these days. Saying that, although more and more restaurants are incorporating vegan options in their menus before you can say veg, there are still some here and there who might only go as far as offering veggie options. For these restaurants, there’s never any harm in calling up and double checking before dinner plans. There may not be vegan options on their website but many restaurants are more than happy to create special dishes if you call ahead and give them a little warning. Now everyone’s a winner.