2020 is the year you learn how to SLAY Veganuary and go plant-based like an absolute boss! Ready?
So you've decided to do Veganuary, but your plan is to survive on instant ramen for 31 days. Does that sound like full plant-potential to you? HECK 👏🏻 NO 👏🏼 IT 👏🏽 DOES 👏🏾 NOT 👏🏿
There's a huge difference between clawing your way through a hellish month of plant-based food and knowing how to slay Veganuary. And when I say slay, I mean S-L-A-Y! That's the opposite of surviving on dehydrated noodles and MSG.
That's why I'm here. I'm here to guide your mind, body and fridge through the most joyful initiation to this sexy-ass vegetable cult. Regardless of why you've decided to do Veganuary, here are my seven steps to making sure this year is your most successful yet!
1. Get yourself a mantra, dude!
This was one of the most important things I did when I first went vegan. Yeah, it sounds like classic vegan hippy nonsense, but bear with me! In my first week of eating plant-based I was accidentally served a beyond burger topped with real cheese. I came this close 👌 to turning a blind eye and tucking in anyway. But I couldn't - in part because of my mantra, circling round in my head.
My mantra was (and still is) the simple, catchy phrase "Don't be a dick". It works for me because it cuts to the core of why I chose to go vegan; because it's the right thing to do! Your mantra should be something that does the same for you - so spend some time getting it right - then write it down, take a picture of it and save it as your phone wallpaper. BINGO!
2. Prepare and stock up!
Veganuary, at it's crux, is just a really drawn out eating challenge. So it makes sense to focus on what you're ACTUALLY GONNA EAT! Make sure you've always got enough bits and pieces in your fridge or pantry to be able to whip up a bangin' vegan din din!
Head over to my instagram and check out my highlight called "Veganuary" for a list of my top vegan stock cupboard ingredients. You'll never be tempted to just order in a pizza - I promise!
3. Be realistic!
Before I knew how to slay Veganuary, I made a few pretty classic errors. I assumed I could go from eating a kilo of cheddar each week to eating a kilo of massaged kale for each meal. Gurl, please.
You're much more likely to succeed if you aim for "realistic vegan" rather than "peak vegan". Sure, you're gonna need to fill the fridge with a bunch of veggies but don't feel shame about filling your freezer with some plant-based ready meals too (or even just frozen potato products)! Chances are you're not going to want to cook a raw spirulina lasagna fro scratch for every meal (or any meal) and it's important you prepare for that.
If you're in the UK, my pals over at Wicked Kitchen make some stunning ready meals for TESCO which you can find in all of their big stores.
4. Don't self-isolate!
As a 98% introvert (no, seriously!) I tend to deal with challenges by self-imposing a few weeks in solitary, despite knowing that this is the worst thing you can do!
Thankfully though, I've come to learn (mostly through School Night Vegan) that my favourite thing about being plant-based is the community I get to access. It's like a crazy friendly private members club and there are WAY fewer white dreadlocks than I expected to find! You're also much more likely to succeed if you're surrounded by people with similar ethics who support what you're doing and why you're doing it.
Whether it's IRL or online, talk to people about what you're doing and share your experience! It actually feels really nice (says my extrovert 2%).
5. Research restaurants!
If you're really going to learn how to slay Veganuary, you'll have to master the art of EATING OUT! My gold-star vegan pals assure me this is much easier than it used to be back in the lentil ages, but it can still be a challenge depending on your location.
My tip is to use the google maps app and drop stars on any vegan friendly restaurants or cafes you'd like to try. That way, when you're caught out at lunch time, you won't panic and eat a pork pie!
If you're struggling to find vegan spots on your own, I like to use the apps by A Billion Veg and Happy Cow for easy, location-based advice on where to eat vegan.
6. Collect recipes!
If you're new to vegan cooking, the idea of whipping up a meal using only plants can be spooky as all hell. Where do I start?? Is this healthy? Is pasta water vegan???
First off, just chill! You're gonna be cool! Start things off with a recipe or two and you'll soon realise how simple the process is. I like to browse through instagram and save all the recipes I fancy to a little folder (hold the little bookmark symbol to the bottom right of any post).
After a long day at work, it can be tricky to be inspired about cooking, but if you've got a nice little folder of din din ideas, you won't struggle quite so much! Oh and make sure you keep them quick and comforting, like this Beyond Burger Lasagna or this Vegan Shepherd's Pie.
7. Track and reward!
Last, but not least - the only way you're gonna slay Veganuary is by keeping track of your progress and rewarding yourself! The first few successful days of Veganuary are borderline euphoric, but as time goes by, you can lose track of how far you've come and what a struggle it's been.
I'd highly recommend either journaling or pinning up a month calendar and ticking off each day. Writing stuff down has a way of making it feel more real and when you treat yourself for nailing each week of vegan food, you'll look forward to the next week.
Why not bake a batch of my Vegan Millionaires Shortbread, slice them into four, freeze them and have a slab at the end of each week!
As always, I'll be updating my instagram with a bunch of new recipes over the month of January, so make sure you follow me if you're not already. It'll hopefully be a CONSTANT source of plant-spiration.
Oh and remember, you've got this, welcome to the sexy-ass vegetable cult, and don't be a dick!
I think the best thing I did when going vegan was to recognize how many of the foods I already ate were vegan: pasta and marinara, hummus and pita, pb&j sandwiches, bean chili...etc. From there, it's easy to think about how to make foods you love vegan with a simple "nut milk" or "veggie broth" swap: soups, cereal, mashed potatoes... Before you know it, you have a list of easy-prep meals! Obviously you won't eat the same things every day, but when you see how often you already eat vegan without trying, it transforms the mountain into a hill.
Also, the easiest type of restaurants to eat vegan at in the US seem to be Tex-Mex and Thai. If you go to one of those, you're usually guaranteed to get a whole meal 🙂