Ah, January – or rather, Veganuary 2024 – the month where curious newcomers try to commit to a plant-based lifestyle.
On the surface, it probably seems like another modern food trend done by people trying to be ‘trendy’ and ‘conscientious’ – and to be fair, it is a trend (even in 2024), however there is much more to it.
Much can be said about the practical benefits of Veganuary, and this is by far the most important thing, right? Beyond the culinary adventure and dietary exploration, embracing veganism carries significant environmental benefits, making it a fantastic choice to reduce your carbon footprint.
As you’ve probably figured from the name, Veganuary involves people – typically vegetarians or even meat eaters – voluntarily trying a vegan diet for the month.
Aside from the benefits of going vegan for the environment, we will give some food tips to ensure your transition from a normal diet to a vegan one is as smooth and healthy as possible.
The environmental impacts of going vegan
Embracing a vegan lifestyle is a powerful step towards reducing one’s environmental impact.
One of the primary environmental benefits lies in the significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal agriculture – livestock farming, particularly the production of beef and dairy, is a major contributor to emissions.
As it turns out, steak does much more damage than just to your wallet and there’s no way of ‘greenwashing’ it.
Moreover, the environmental toll of deforestation is closely linked to the expansion of grazing lands and the cultivation of crops for animal feed.
Increased numbers of vegans reduce the demand for meat and as such, the need for animal feed and the fields that are used for growing it.
Water scarcity is another issue. Animal agriculture consumes vast amounts of water for both the animals themselves and the cultivation of feed crops. Transitioning to a plant-based diet significantly reduces the water footprint associated with food production.
There are many more benefits out there environmentally speaking, but perhaps the most obvious one is that, you know, animals don’t get killed.
If you go vegan, you no longer have to adhere to the double standard most people have of smiling at animal videos online, whilst simultaneously contributing to countless animal deaths through their diet.
Either you like looking at cute animals doing things, or you like eating them. It’s one or the other, surely not both? Well anyway, going vegan can save as many as 200 animals per year, per vegan, so that’s worth considering.
Is a vegan diet healthy?
Like with any other diet, it depends on how you manage it. Eat too much or too little or certain foods, and things can go south pretty quickly, but a healthy diet is possible.
Whilst a healthy vegan diet is achievable, you need to ensure that the nutrients lost from animal products are made up for elsewhere.
It does require more effort to maintain a healthy vegan diet compared to a meat-eating or even vegetarian one, however, many people have seen (health) benefits after going vegan. Not just in Veganuary!
Vitamin B12, iron and Omega-3 are among the nutrients that are susceptible to becoming deficient. One way to counteract this is through the use of fortified foods but some natural sources like seaweed also contain B12.
Calcium and vitamin D are also more easily lacking in a vegan diet, however there are some greens that contains these.
Don’t let this scare you – a healthy vegan diet is easier once you know your foods and what you require from supplements, and can be rewarding in other ways. For example, your food may end up being more creative or experimental due to the different nature of what you are cooking!
Veganuary Tips – transitioning to a vegan diet
Tofu as a versatile protein source
Tofu, often considered a blank canvas, can adapt to various culinary roles. From scrambles to stir-fries and even as a meat substitute in traditional dishes, mastering the art of preparing tofu is key to a diverse and satisfying vegan menu. It tastes of nothing on its own, but when combined with a larger dish and flavours, it can be the star of the show.
Exploring Plant-Based Proteins
Lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are rich sources of protein that can replace meat in numerous recipes. These plant-based proteins not only offer nutritional benefits but also bring diverse textures and flavors to dishes. They’re the backbone of hearty stews, filling salads, and protein-packed bowls.
Elevate veggie burgers beyond the bun
Veggie burgers have evolved beyond bland imitations, becoming culinary delights in their own right. Experiment with black bean, quinoa, or sweet potato-based patties to discover a world of flavours and textures. Dress them up with condiments, toppings, and side dishes to create a satisfying and nutritionally balanced meal.
One thing that can elevate a burger immediately is an avocado. Avocado isn’t just a trendy toast topper; it’s a nutrient-rich, versatile ingredient. Beyond its creamy texture and distinct flavor, avocados offer healthy fats and a range of nutrients. Incorporate them into salads, wraps, sandwiches, or desserts to add richness and nutritional value to your meals.
Veganuary represents an opportunity to really make an impact on the planet – and who knows, you might even make it a permanent lifestyle afterwards.
There is more to Veganuary than you might think, swap your supermarket – overpriced – not-eco friendly products for sustainable ones to use at home or in gifts like the Zofu which is the featured image on this guide, find more on our website. Or, have a look at our list with everyday eco-friendly swaps here.