A guide to going vegan in January
I used to believe January was a bad month to start anything other than a West Wing box set. But having turned vegan myself in January 2012, it seems it's POSSIBLE, even if it's not the easiest time of year to think about anything but MORE WHISKEY SOURS.
So here are some tips and links to recipes for everyone trying out being vegan for January with Veganuary tomorrow. It's something I get asked a lot about but is pretty difficult to set out, but I'm gonna give it my best shot! Woman cannot live on vegan chocolate coins alone, so here you have it...
Practical things to get sorted in your first week:
- You will be spending zero money on meat or dairy, which will mean your shopping will generally be cheaper, but it might surprise you how much you need to spend on vegetables and fruit to fill your plate. So I would find a great greengrocer or vegetable box scheme to sign up to. It sounds simple but if you focus on the seasonal produce, it will generally be cheaper as there is a surplus amount, and taste the best. Remember you can make soups, curries and stews and freeze them all in portion-size sandwich bags, so if it's just you going vegan it can still be worth buying in bulk if you've got time to cook up a large amount of food to store away. I've written about my infatuation with London veg box scheme Growing Communities before, but if you're outside of London, you might have better access to local farmers' markets, so have a think about what suits you best.
- If you're used to eating out for breakfast or lunch then you're gonna have to do some research. I keep muesli and porridge in my desk at work so I can always have breakfast, and this is a great way to eat the nuts and seeds that will provide you with some of the protein you need. Things like Sainsbury's Golden Syrup porridge are vegan, as are a lot of mueslis and plain cereals like Rice Crispies. It sounds obvious but makes it much easier than trying to work out what's vegan in Starbucks, because there isn't much.
- ALTHOUGH: Out of all of the take-out chain places, Pret is the best for vegan food. They have a few vegan sandwiches and salads, and usually a vegan soup. For supermarkets, Sainsbury's has the clearest labelling, so it's much easier to work out if a crumpet/crisps/bread roll is vegan, but I've also heard Tesco have a good Free-From range, and a lot of my vegan friends get their vegan cheese from there.
- For meat replacements: Quorn isn't vegan. You'd think it would make sense, but no, it's got egg in it. However, Linda McCartney sausages are vegan, and so are some of their pies, which are great to have in the freezer for an easy dinner. Morrisons' soy mince is vegan, so can be used for spaghetti bolognese, lasagne etc.
Recipes you might wanna eat in January that are super easy to do vegan:
-Fry ups are the ultimate in veganising action. Most bread is vegan (steer away from the posh stuff which might have egg or butter added), beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, a lot of supermarket hash browns, potato smilies, potato croquettes, wilted spinach, brown sauce, ketchup... your hangovers wont suffer from being vegan, that is for sure.
If you're stuck for ideas try:
-Leftovers like the homemade pizza above are really easy to take to work the next day, or try an extra portion of homemade curry or soups- if you want to buy them from a supermarket, ones like tomato and basil and clear vegetable soups are usually vegan.
- You can also just buy up a load of salad components like couscous, lettuce, hummus, olives, red peppers, olive oil and cucumber and make a salad over five days which keeps it pretty cheap. Most supermarkets also sell stir fry vegetables which you can microwave with a little water and add some pre-cooked tofu for protein.
For more ideas try:
I don't get to take very many photos of dinners in winter as I hate using flash photography on food, but for some ideas, roast dinner-based meals are easy to veganise- roast potatoes are great with olive oil and mash potatoes work well with olive oil and a little vegetable stock to add flavour. You could make your own sausages like I have in the photo above, or use Jus-roll pastry to make pies and flans, which is all vegan apart from the butter shortcrust type. Atora vegetable suet is also vegan, and perfect on top of stews once made in to dumplings, or you can try a mashed potato topping with shepherds pie made with vegan soy mince. Obviously there's also a lot of dishes from Indian and Thai cuisine that are already vegan, and sauces like sweet and sour and and Thai peanut-based sauces are usually vegan.
Final bit of advice: Haters are gonna hate! As long as you're not driving everyone nuts preaching about how great veganism is, it's unlikely you're going to offend anyone by trying it out for a few weeks. I was really worried about what my friends and family would do and how they would deal with it, but two years later and now my Mum knows more about vegan baking than me, can whip up a vegan meal for eight people in a flash and still manages to make sure it tastes amazing. My best mates all have their fav things they like to cook when I come over (cheers everyone!) and my boyfriend turns out to be the best vegan stir-fry maker I've ever met.
I could go on and on, but if you want any more practical advice, head over to the Vegan IRL section of this website, and you can also see all the Guac recipes to read through over at the Guac and Roll Index.
Have fun and I'd love to hear how you get on! Tweet me @guacandrolluk and follow me @avainlondon on Instagram for more vegan updates throughout VEGANUARY!