Veganuary is a movement. A movement that encourages people to try a vegan diet for January.
It has recently gained popularity, and thousands of people participate each year. What makes this event so exciting is that it has grown into something much more than just a short-term dietary change: many people who join this challenge end up sticking to their plant-based diets long after January ends.
When did it start?
The event was started in 2013 by two vegans, Jane Land and Matthew Glover, who felt that more people would go vegan if they only knew how easy it was. 
The goal of Veganuary is to help as many people as possible transition from eating animals to eating plants. This includes running media campaigns, organising events and encouraging restaurants to offer more vegan options.
What happens during Veganuary?
Veganuary participants must pledge to avoid all animal-based products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Examples of animal-based products include:
- Eggs – in cakes and desserts
- Butter – in biscuits and pastries
- Cheese – on pizzas or sandwiches
- Milk – in cereal or tea
Why should you take the challenge?
To make a compassionate decision to live healthier.
It’s a great way to detox if you’ve been overeating recently. In addition to eliminating foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, vegans enjoy abundant fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains.
Vegan diets (mainly plant-based whole foods) have been associated with lower rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. They can also help prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, cataracts, gout and gallstones.
To become more environmentally conscious.
You’ll help the planet. Animal agriculture is one cause of climate change. By going vegan, you’ll reduce your personal carbon footprint since the meat and dairy industries are two of the leading contributors to climate change.
You’ll save money
There are plenty of benefits to being vegan, but one of the biggest is saving money on food. To stay within your budget, you don’t want to spend more than you have to, and a vegan diet won’t cause that to happen. Many delicious and healthy foods are available for nothing or even free!
Being vegan means not paying for many kinds of meat. You’ll save tons on your grocery bill when you skip out on non-vegan meats like chicken; it’s also easy to find plant-based proteins like beans and lentils, or even whole grains, that will give your body all the protein it needs.
Is a Veganuary challenge difficult?
A common misconception about veganism is that it’s a tough challenge. Sure, it can be a bit tough at first, but you can make some substitutions, and it becomes as easy as any other lifestyle choice.
It can also be difficult because you’re making a profound change in your life. You have to ensure you are getting enough protein, iron and other necessary vitamins and find new sources of these nutrients. You have to plan meals in advance, which might seem stressful at first but will make your life much simpler in the long run.
Tips for going vegan
1. Plan ahead
Plan what you want to eat before you go shopping. You don’t have time to waste on bad recipes or ingredient substitutions that make a meal taste terrible. Instead, spend an evening poring over recipes online or flipping through cookbooks, looking for dishes that would be fun and easy to prepare.
You’ll want to pick convenient meals—think about how often you can take time out from work or school to cook dinner and what ingredients are easy for you to get at your local grocery store.
Look at your staple meals and snacks, and see if any are meat-based. If so, you’ll need to find alternatives.
Plan your meals so that they’re easy to make. Keep things interesting by trying new recipes and ingredients.
If you are going out, plan ahead by packing meals and snacks when you’re away from home. You can take advantage of ready-made vegan foods like salads or bring snacks made from nuts, seeds, dried fruit, whole grains (granola), and other dried foods (such as cereal).
2. Don’t feel like you have to eat out if you don’t want to
There are plenty of tasty vegan meals you can make at home. It can be as easy as marinating tofu in soy sauce and using it in place of meat in recipes like stir fries or curries. You could also try turning your favourite meat dish into a vegan one by replacing the meat with tempeh or seitan. Beans are another great option. Whether you’re making tacos, salads, chilli or just about anything else that sounds good to you, beans will make it taste great.
3. Find restaurants and cafes that cater for vegans
If you’re looking for vegan-friendly cafes and restaurants in your city, the internet can be your friend. A quick search engine query should tell you where to go for a bite before or after work with your new plant-based diet.
Once you’ve got a list of places with vegan options, scope out their menus online. This way, you can see what they offer and choose what best suits your tastes before dining there. Don’t forget that vegan doesn’t mean eating salad or tofu at every meal.
4. Buy vegan products
Vegan products are now easy to find in traditional supermarkets or online. The ingredients used in manufacturing these products are 100% vegan, without animal products or by-products. This means that there are no eggs or dairy products in any of them. It also means that they are free from animal testing and have no GMOs.
One of the problems some people have when thinking about veganism is the fear that they won’t be able to find foods that they like. However, many of your favourite traditional dishes already have vegan versions available.
5. Get involved in the community
While being vegan is a personal choice for many people, it’s also about community. Being involved in the vegan community and supporting vegan businesses, organisations, and other events is a great way to feel connected to like-minded people.
There are so many positive things that come from this sense of community. You will meet so many wonderful people through involvement, which can be invaluable for your health and mental well-being.
It’s also a great way to share information about veganism with others who aren’t as familiar with it and show them how easy it can be!
If you’re interested in exploring the vegan lifestyle, Veganuary is a great way to do so. It’s also fun to challenge yourself and learn more about compassionate eating.
 Veganuary, K. (2016). A Look Behind The Scenes At Veganuary. [online] Veganuary. Available at: https://veganuary.com/behind-the-scenes-at-veganuary/.
Photo by Jill Wellington: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-salad-in-plate-257816/
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-assorted-nuts-near-mug-4110191/
Photo by Markus Winkler: https://www.pexels.com/photo/vegetable-salad-on-white-plate-2862154/