The New Year has arrived, and with that comes another push for Veganuary, the European-based social media phenomenon that has millions of people pledging to take on a vegan diet throughout the first month of the year.
I’ve written and posted about my plant-based recipes, restaurant reviews, and philosophies before, always in the name of trying to inform and educate, rather than change any minds or force any beliefs upon readers. I ended up going vegan by learning from friends (and books, podcasts, and documentaries), but only ever appreciated the resources that were informative without being judgmental, pressuring, or condescending. So I try and follow the “here’s what worked for me” mentality, and if it resonates with more than zero folks, that’s awesome!
I’ve heard from lots of friends this year that they want to try “eating less meat” for a variety of reasons - some want to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce animal suffering, improve their health, become more energized, or they just want a new food challenge. If you’re looking to join the Veganuary movement (I highly encourage signing up - it’s free), or would like to eat less animal products, or simply want to understand your crazy friend/brother/son/nephew Mike a little more, I’ve compiled 5 suggestions to help make this seemingly daunting task much more manageable:
Don’t Go Vegan
This seems counterintuitive, but I truly believe that perfection gets in the way of improvement when it comes to plant-based eating. Everyone was once not vegan before they went vegan, so why do we care so much when someone who eats 98% vegan accidentally, or on purpose consumes a bit of dairy? It’s ridiculous. So if you’re trying to make a change, do your best. If you’re half-way through a recipe, and realize the salad dressing you’re using has traces of cream, don’t beat yourself up. If you NEED a piece of bacon, have one. Just try and reduce animal products where you can.
Gamify The Challenge
Make it fun, rather than a burden, to try new recipes or new food. Challenge a friend or family member to go vegan with and see who can make the coolest dishes. Have a favourite dish that isn’t vegan? I bet the Internet has you covered with a delicious plant-based spin on it. So challenge yourself to try a new ingredient (there are now hundreds of meat alternatives in every grocery store), or veganize your go-to meals.
Smash that “Subscribe” button, but be selective
The infinite library of vegan blogs, recipes, YouTube channels, Instagram feeds, and cookbooks is absolutely incredible, but can also cripple someone looking to start small and simple. My advice would be to follow 1 or 2 accounts that fit your eye, then pick a recipe, and get started away from your screens. A couple of my favourites: Minimalist Baker, Bosh!, VegRunRest (biased)
Find Your “Why” and Watch Documentaries for Reminders
Figure out why you’re taking the challenge, and consume a piece of content that can keep you on track if cravings (or boredom) come knocking:
Health: maybe you want to lower your risk of developing chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease or cancer)? If so, watch Forks Over Knives or What the Health on Netflix. These are very powerful and include the best plant-based doctors who break down the scientific benefits of choosing plants over animal proteins.
Cruelty: we all know there’s an incredible amount of animal suffering that occurs to provide that ground beef, nicely packaged, in your grocery store fridge, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Watch Food Inc. or Earthlings or simply Google “inside a slaughterhouse” - those images will make it easy to say no to the sirloin you once craved.
Environment: Watch Cowspiracy on Netflix which examines how animal agriculture contributes to climate change more than all transportation methods combined.
Brag About Your Progress
Swapping out just one hamburger for a veggie burger is totally awesome - especially if the veggie burger is tasty! Don’t succeed in silence; tell a friend, your family, the Internet, or email me! Comment below with any cool recipes or changes you’ve been able to make (or challenges you’re experiencing!) I’d love to hear how your January is going!
Thanks for reading,