1. Check out your cupboards
The chances are your cupboards are already full of plant-based items, even without you knowing it. Peanut butter, yeast extracts, jams and marmalades, baked beans, dried pasta, rice, almost all bread, many types of gravy granules, vegetable stock cubes, chopped tomatoes, oven chips and hash browns, coconut milk, lots of curry pastes, many breakfast cereals, herbs, spices, tomato ketchup and HP sauce, mustard and pickles, olive oil and vegetable oils, soy sauce, fruit juice, tea and coffee, lots of cookies, crackers, crispbreads and crisps, and of course fruit and vegetables – fresh, dried, tinned and frozen. You’re halfway to being vegan before you even try!
2. Veganise the foods you love
The best way to ease into veganism is to cook the same meals you already love but simply adapt them to be vegan. Pizzas, curries, casseroles, chilli, spag bol, bangers and mash, and many other family favourites can be made vegan with minor tweaks. Just switch out the meat for soya mince or lentils, and the dairy products for their dairy-free versions. Keep it simple. There will be plenty of time to don an apron and create avocado gazpacho with dukka dust but for now, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to what you know.
3. Break the addiction
We need to talk about cheese. There’s no under-estimating how important cheese is to many people – particularly vegetarians. We’ve been there. We want to go vegan, but gorgonzola. Our advice is to try a variety of vegan cheeses. You’ll find some you love, and probably some you don’t. We’re firm believers that there’s a vegan cheese for everyone. And as you find the ones that work for you, you’ll slowly come to find that dairy cheese doesn’t quite do it for you like it used to. Even smells a bit sweaty sock-ish. Team Veganuary is particularly keen on Violife and Vegusto but check out the supermarkets’ own brands and you’ll find feta, blue cheese and cream cheeses, too.
4. Eating out is easy
Please don’t think that being vegan means having to stay home. It’s never been easier to get a great meal in pubs, cafes and restaurants. There are websites that help you find your nearest vegan-friendly restaurant, wherever you are in the world. You’ll also find vegan options or full vegan menus in all your high-street favourites from Zizzi, Ask and Carluccio’s to Wagamama, Las Iguanas and YO! Sushi. Even Wetherspoon and Toby Carvery have got vegan meals. Check out Veganuary’s chain restaurant blog for more info.
5. Join a community
If you’re embarking solo on your plant-based adventure, it can feel a little lonely but there are more than half a million in the UK alone now, and there is no need to feel like the odd one out. Find your local vegan group and meet up for meals and chat with like-minded people, or join one of the many Facebook groups where you can swap recipes, tips and moan about the state of the world.
6. Cuddle a rescued farm animal
We really can’t recommend this highly enough: visit an animal rescue sanctuary. Preferably a vegan, farmed animal rescue sanctuary. If ever your motivation to go vegan is flagging, or you want to remind yourself of the impact you can make with every single compassionate bite, visit an animal sanctuary. We love cow-cuddling at The Retreat Animal Rescue in Kent but there are many other excellent sanctuaries, too, where you can connect with the animals who - but for a stroke of fortune - would have ended up on someone’s plate. A powerful, positive and heartwarming experience.
7. Cut yourself a little slack
Mistakes can happen, and they happen to all of us. Forgive yourself! If you’re keen to try veganism but you fall off the wagon, don’t assume that veganism isn’t for you. You’re just a vegan who made a mistake. That’s OK, we’re all human. Just start again. Every day you eat plant-based is a wonderful thing, so don’t worry too much about the odd hiccup.
Lastly, Not everyone who takes part in Veganuary remembers to sign up at Veganuary.com! Without doing so, you’ll miss out on the free celebrity e-cookbook, the special offers and competitions, and the daily emails which give info, advice and amazing recipes. By signing up, you’ll also be able to join our supportive and super-friendly Facebook group where thousands of others are also taking their first plant-based steps.