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7 Of The Best Tips For Making The Most Of Veganuary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Veganuary is a trend and challenge which encourages everyone to try out plant-based eating for a month. Similar to New Year’s resolutions, it can help people set goals and hold themselves accountable for changing their habits. Having made the leap to veganism myself six years ago, I’ve gathered some advice for anyone struggling with this year’s Veganuary. Transitioning to plant-based doesn’t have to be hard; there are plenty of ways to hack vegan eating! 

Don’t restrict additional food groups

Cutting out meat, dairy and eggs can be a huge leap, so don’t stress yourself out about restricting other categories of foods. Within the vegan community online, you’ll find lots of fat-free rhetoric and vegan influencers preaching to cut out all oil from your meals. Just because limiting certain kinds of fats works for some vegans doesn’t mean you need to feel pressured to further restrict yourself, too. I’ve found that embracing plant-based eating is a lot easier when I allow myself flexibility and don’t label any non-animal products as “off-limits.” So roast your veggies in olive oil, top your salads with avocado and add peanut butter to all your breakfasts! Your meals will be tastier, and your new diet will be less intimidating. 

Experiment with a wide variety of plant-based proteins

There are tons of amazing mock meats on the market nowadays, but relying on products like Beyond and Impossible meat can get really expensive. Instead of eating solely meat replacements, branch out and cook with naturally protein packed options like tofu, edamame, nuts and seeds, black beans, chickpeas and lentils. I’ve found these alternatives much more accessible over the years, and they tend to be easier to stock up on and store in your pantry. If you’re worried about reaching your protein needs with these ingredients, you can also add fortified foods like soy milk and protein pasta to your diet. I also just enjoy mixing up my protein sources as a way to keep my meals exciting. Especially in the beginning of your plant-based journey, replacing “I’m losing meat from my diet!” with “I’m adding new foods, like tempeh and seitan, to my diet!” makes veganism easier.

Consider Increasing your portion sizes

Everyone’s portion needs and hunger cues are different, but as a general rule, don’t shy away from eating a bit more than you’re used to. Your diet will probably incorporate a lot more fruits and veggies than prior to Veganuary, and many of these foods can be low in calories. Don’t feel bad if you find yourself having to eat larger portions to feel as satiated as you did when you ate meat and dairy. Ensuring that you’re eating enough is essential to making your veganism sustainable all month. If you don’t listen to your body and eat a little extra, then you might feel like veganism is leaving you deprived and hungry. In the case that you’re struggling with getting used to this change, search for vegan influencers who eat intuitively!

Don’t forget about B-12

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, and yes, it’s necessary for vegans to supplement vitamin B-12. It’s important to refer to medical professionals for guidance when it comes to your nutritional needs, but I know from experience that taking a daily B-12 supplement has been hugely important throughout my years as a vegan. B-12 deficiencies can occur on a vegan diet, so make sure you are staying safe while trying out plant-based eating. One additional tasty way I like to add extra B-12 to my diet is through nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a staple vegan ingredient known for its savory, slightly cheesy flavor, and most options on the market are packed with B-12. I like to mix it into my tofu scrambles, sprinkle it on my pasta dishes and even use it as a popcorn topping. It has a strong flavor and can be an acquired taste, but if you like salty, savory foods, it’s worth trying out!

Step up your seasoning skills

Eating animal products like meat and butter might have been easy ways to bring flavor to your cooking in the past, but there are plenty of plant-based options to make your meals just as tasty. Your Veganuary dishes definitely don’t have to be bland and boring! Spices and herbs are all vegan, so get adventurous and try different spice mixes and marinades. Many veggies and plant protein sources, like tofu, are the perfect blank canvases for creating any flavor profile you want, making Veganuary the ideal opportunity to get adventurous. Since going vegan, I’ve learned that adding spicy, aromatic and acidic components to my cooking really helps dishes feel like more complete meals. Plant-based entrees like lentil and chickpea curries and tofu stir-fries are great examples of vegan dinners you can pack with flavor.

Try out some vegan baking

When I first went vegan, I shied away from experimenting with baking because I didn’t trust that the results would be satisfactory. I’ve since discovered tons of amazing recipes for vegan baked goods from sites like Minimalist Baker. It’s important to break the stereotype that veganism is all salads and smoothies; let yourself eat delicious muffins, breads and cookies to make your diet feel more comforting and familiar. The most important hack when it comes to plant-based baking is figuring out which egg replacement works best for you. I never bother buying faux egg products and tend to use options like applesauce, peanut butter, mashed banana and chia seeds (soaked in water) depending on the recipe. These replacements are great because I usually already have them in my kitchen which makes baking super easy.

Focus on the overall goal instead of stressing the details

It’s important to be kind to yourself. Too often veganism is seen as an elitist club where you can’t make any mistakes. In reality, mistakes are a totally normal part of the process of going vegan. Never feel bad about accidentally misreading the ingredients on a label or not being able to resist a certain craving during your first plant-based month. One slip-up, or even two or three, does not erase all of your progress. If you just give Veganuary a shot, that’s already a wonderful step in the right direction! Veganism is all about taking what steps you can to help the animals and the environment; that’s what’s important.

Try to keep these tips in mind for the remainder of Veganuary. Remember not to lose sight of yourself in the process, as vegan eating should be fun and refreshing rather than stressful and negative. Have fun experimenting with plant-based eating!

Kate is a third-year English major at UCLA, hailing from San Francisco. When she's not editing articles for Her Campus at UCLA, she enjoys getting lost in a good book and experimenting with vegan recipes.