Going vegan this January?

Whether you’re a meat-lover up for a challenge, feeling ready for a health-conscious change to start your year, or wanting to play your part in helping the environment, there are a whole host of reasons to take the pledge and try Veganuary this 2018.

A simple change in diet and routine – like substituting your mid-morning milky cappuccino for a green tea – may seem arduous, but dropping all trace of animal products for 31 days to go green may just be the most impressive change of all, especially if you’re an avid meat eater.

Over 500,000 people in Great Britain follow a totally vegan diet, free of all animal products [1]. Which poses the question: surely going vegan for a month can’t be too burdensome? After our experiences going vegan last January here at Team BOL, we’ve trouble-shooted all worries, and compiled a list of answers to 5 burning questions to help you smoothly transition into a completely vegan-friendly lifestyle.

1. Substitutes for your staple animal products

Soy, almond, cashew, rice, oat, tiger nut, sweetened, unsweetened… The plant-based ‘milk’ aisle may seem confusing and baffling for someone used to pouring cow’s milk on their cornflakes their whole life. When opting for a plant-based ‘milk’, it really comes down to personal preference. Veganuary is a perfect time to try a range of milk substitutes and experiment the different flavors within your daily routine of tea, coffee and cereal. Our favorites at Studio BOL include Rice Dream’s Rice Milk, Alpro Soy Milk, and Oatly’s Chocolate Milk Drink.

Meat substitutes are equally as abundant as milk alternatives. Again, experimenting with alternatives to your favourite is a good strategy – whether it be Linda McCartney’s sausages to replace your usual pork ones, or Cauldron Tofu pieces to put into your mid-week stir fry – there are a vast range of vegan-friendly options available from supermarkets. Veganuary is also a great opportunity to try replacing meat with more novel ingredients you may not be used to eating, such as falafels and tempeh. We particularly enjoy Great Foods array of falafel, and Vivera plant-based burgers.

2. Vitamin B12 explained: what is it and why do I need it?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin and one of the eight members of the B Vitamin family. The role of Vitamin B12 within the body is to contribute to the following functions:

  • Normal functioning of the nervous system
  • Normal red blood cell formation
  • Normal functioning of the immune system
  • Reduction in tiredness and fatigue

The NHS recommends adults should aim for a daily intake of 1.5mcg of Vitamin B12 [2]. Very low intakes of Vitamin B12 within the body can lead to health defects such as:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems with memory
  • Anemia

In order to ensure you get enough Vitamin B12 within your diet when trying veganism, you can:

Take B12 Vitamin supplements, widely available to purchase online and in health stores such as Holland & Barrett.
Eat 3 sources of B12- fortified food a day, which includes cereals, soy products, energy bars and nutritional yeast such as Marmite.
Keep hydrated, with at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
Speak to your GP if you think you’re deficient.

Some vegans also struggle with low levels of Vitamin D and Calcium in the body, which are commonly consumed in the diet as dairy. Good plant-based alternatives include pulses (lentils, beans and peas), soy, sesame seeds, and dried fruits.

3. Preparation is key

After a long day’s work, maybe followed by the gym and a dark, dreary trip home you may be stood in Tesco Express with little energy to imagine up a vegan recipe, and little time to prepare a hearty meal. This might be a likely time to aptly forget you’re mid-Veganaury, or worse, feel dissatisfied with a bag of nuts and hummus for dinner. This is why one of our top and most important tips for Veganuary is to prepare meals ahead.

We advocate the weekend batch-cooking of a few of your favorite vegan recipes to store in the freezer, perfect for winter evenings. Soups are ideal for both lunchtime and dinner. Blitz together your favorite vegetables and spices up for a quick office meal, which can be usually stored in your fridge for up to a week. Here’s some inspiration from Martha Stewart. We also have a weakness for wraps and pita’s at Studio BOL, loaded with our favorite salad, hummus, dips, falafel and seeds. These are guaranteed to provide a filling lunch you’ll be excited to tuck into.

Alas, if all your pre-planning does happen to fail, we’ve got you covered.  Pick up a BOL by finding your nearest stockist.

4. Top Tips for Eating Out

Eating out may seem daunting, especially if you’re out with a group of meat-eating friends or family. But don’t worry, we’ve found a huge number of restaurants are extremely accommodating to vegans, with waiters and waitresses happy to guide and answer any questions or queries you may have. Chain Restaurants that deserve a special mention for their exclusive vegan friendly options include Zizzi, Pizza Express, Carluccio’s, Yo Sushi, Las Iguanas, Leon, Giraffe, Pret, Starbucks and All Bar One. However, a particular shot-out goes to Wagamama for their new Vegan Menu, which features 12 delicious dishes. Our friends at BOSH reviewed all 12 dishes, and have the complete low-down.

If you’ve been invited out to a restaurant that doesn’t seem to boast a plethora of vegan dishes, it’s a great idea to email ahead of the date. Small restaurants are likely to make a special dish for you ahead of eating, especially if they understand your dietary requirements and have time to prepare ahead of service. This way disappointment will be avoided when having to order a side of vegetables and chips for dinner.

5. What to have as a treat?

There’s bound to be a few darker days in January, when all you fancy is a creamy chocolate treat, or when something indulgent takes your fancy during the weekly supermarket shop. If you’re feeling low in spirit and on the verge of making a dent into the Christmas Celebration tin, fear not! There are a whole host of snacks that are (surprisingly!) vegan to curb your cravings and keep you on track:

  • Bourbon biscuits (most brands)
  • Kipling Treacle tarts
  • Pringles
  • Bird’s custard
  • Lotus Biscoff Spread
  • Co-op Jam doughnuts
  • Fox’s Dark Chocolate Chunkie Cookies
  • Skittles
  • Oreo Cookies

We can’t wait to hear your Veganuary stories and top tips, and whether you’ve been inspired to make some long-term changes to your diet.

Till next time!

Sofia

[1] https://www.vegansociety.com/a...

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/...