We're all familiar with that post-Christmas feeling when we swear we'll never eat another mince pie or Quality Street again. Half-eaten boxes of chocolates haunt the cupboards and the fridge is home to a handful of lone Brussel sprouts. It's time to get back into everyday life, but the thought of regular food shopping (that's shopping without copious amounts of festive cheese) feels uninspiring.
So what can we do to bring some foodie flare into the new year? The answer is simple, Veganuary. What started as a small UK trend quickly exploded into an annual international event, with thousands of people participating in a plant-based pledge throughout January (and beyond).
But going cold turkey on meat and animal products can seem daunting to anyone new to the vegan lifestyle, so we're here with our handy guide to help you prepare and enjoy Veganaury 2023.
The Veganuary challenge, founded by a non-profit organisation, originated in the UK in 2014. The idea? To challenge as many people as possible to become vegan for the first 31 days of the year. That means missing the meat and ditching the dairy for a whole month. The aim is to get more people to try a vegan lifestyle and debunk myths surrounding plant-based diets.
So, how popular is Veganuary? In short, very. Veganuary has grown in popularity year on year, with 170,000 signing up in 2017 to 250,000 in 2018. 2020 saw a significant boom after the Golden Globes announced an all vegan menu for the event in association with Veganuary. A staggering 629,000 people from 228 countries and territories participated in Veganuary 2022, with another record-breaking Veganuary expected in 2023.
So if you're planning on a plant-based January, rest assured, you won't be alone.
There are so many reasons why people partake in Veganuary. For some, it's rising to a New Year's challenge, others enjoy the health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet and for many, it's the environmental factor that drives their Veganuary journey.
There's no right or wrong reason for taking part in Veganuary. You don't even need a reason. If it sounds like something you'd like to try, just do it.
Still unsure if Veganuary is for you? After you read on about the benefits of Veganuary, we're sure you'll change your mind.
January can be a turbulent time for a lot of people. With so much pressure to become a 'new you' or change something about your lifestyle, it can be easy to slip into an unhealthy mindset or feel defeated against unrealistically high expectations.
Veganuary offers a positive challenge over a set amount of days that brings a heap of benefits to you and the planet. We'd say that's a win-win.
Let's dive into a handful of Veganuary benefits:
After the Christmas whirlwind, it’s not uncommon for us to feel sluggish. It’s often a time of over-indulgence, where we eat and drink more than we should. While there’s nothing wrong with a little extravagance over the festive period, this diet disruption can impact our physical and mental wellbeing if prolonged.
Cutting back or completely removing meat and dairy products from our diets makes room for all the delicious fresh fruits and fibres that our body needs and often craves. Eating less meat, especially red meat, is often the first step in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke. Avoiding dairy products such as butter can also lower cholesterol.
Don’t worry, Veganuary isn’t about taking away from your diet. If anything, it’s about adding colour and flavours to your meals with fresh, plant-based ingredients. Once you start researching plant-based meals, you’ll quickly discover how versatile vegetables are, and maybe you’ll find something new down the veggie aisle that will become a firm favourite. Before long, kale and courgettes will become cupboard staples.
We’re all aware of climate change and the devastation it’s already causing worldwide. With images of rising sea levels, forest fires and the loss of habitats flooding the news, it’s easy to feel helpless against a crisis so significant.
While it is crucial for big companies to pledge and act upon improving their environmental impact, we must never underestimate the importance of the individual when it comes to saving our home.
By removing meat from our diets, even just for Veganuary, we can positively contribute towards decreasing greenhouse gasses, deforestation and soil degradation, which are all linked to meat production.
Even if Veganuary isn’t for you, why not try meatless Mondays, where you dedicate one day to a vegetarian or plant-based diet? Or perhaps you’ll become a flexitarian? Every little helps, and remember, it’s always better to be an imperfect vegan than to not try at all.
Any meat lover will know the often eye-watering cost of meat, and now more than ever, while we’re all feeling the pinch, it can feel almost impossible to justify the cost. Veganuary offers the perfect opportunity to miss the meat aisle and fill up on vegetables and grains, both great for bulking out meals with energy and flavour. Try a lentil chilli or bean bake for an easy yet delicious Veganuary recipe.
If you really can’t go without meat, there has been a recent surge in meat substitutes hitting our shelves, but be careful, these are often filled with artificial chemicals and preservatives, which are bad for both body and planet. They’re rarely budget-friendly either.
When starting your Veganuary journey, stock up on the basics. Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes will become life savers. The best thing? They’re kind to the planet and your wallet and have a long shelf life which helps to reduce waste. Once you build your confidence during Veganuary, you’ll wonder how you got by with such a reliance on meat.
Whether it’s a local community, a community of friends or an online community, it’s in our nature to find like-minded people who understand and support us. Participiating in Veganuary is no different.
Depending on your Veganuary journey, you may want to discuss your vegan choices with your partner, family or friends to see if they’ll join you for Veganuary. If they do, great, you’ll find having a community of Veganuary friends a great help when it comes to dinner ideas, difficulties and experiences throughout the challenge.
Should you find yourself facing Veganuary alone, remember that 629,000 signed up for Vegannaury 2022, meaning there’s a whole vegan community out there waiting to welcome you. Try searching for local vegan groups on Facebook, or follow Veganuary dinner inspiration hashtags on Instagram and TikTok.
Finding a supportive vegan community can help with providing resources and knowledge throughout Veganuary. This can include offering information about vegan nutrition, tips and advice on how to transition to a vegan lifestyle, recipes and meal ideas, and general support and encouragement. Vegan communities often host events and activities to celebrate Veganuary and help participants stay motivated throughout the month.
Nothing brings strangers together like one common goal, and if you’re finding a particular aspect of Veganuary challenging, chances are someone else is too, and together you can work through it for an enjoyable and successful Veganuary.
There are so many ways you can find like-minded people during Veganuary 2023. You can join local vegan meetup groups or specific vegan Facebook groups in your area, attend vegan-friendly events in your local areas or search for vegan-friendly restaurants to meet other vegans.
Never underestimate the power of social media. Search for online vegan forums and communities to chat with other vegans from around the world.
Whether you’re a first-time vegan or a seasoned pro, there’s a whole host of people who can come to the rescue with your plant-based questions and equally as many people who you can help with your Veganuary experiences and knowledge.
There are plenty of in-person meetings and community activities during Veganuary too. Just search for local events or even set one up yourself. Perhaps a Veganuary coffee morning or walk?
One place that’ll meet all your Veganuary needs is the Glass House Retreat just outside of Essex. As a vegan retreat, we know a thing or two about Veganuary and can help you on your journey with delicious plant-based meals, cooking classes, recipe demonstrations and more. With a communal dining area and lounge, it’s the perfect place to come together with a vegan community.
We all have our favourite meals and go-to snacks that get us through busy weeks and chilly evenings. When starting Veganuary, the first thing you may wonder is how you’re going to survive without that comforting mac and cheese or your delightfully naughty bar of chocolate over the weekend.
It’s easy to think about what you may miss out during Veganuary instead of all the fantastic food you’re about to enjoy. But the thing is, you don’t have to miss out at all!
You may be surprised at how many of your favourite dishes can easily be made vegan. You can make vegan pizzas, burgers and tacos, as well as a variety of vegan desserts. There are also lots of vegan snacks and treats available, so you won't feel like you're missing out during Veganuary.
From kitchen basics, such as butter, cheese and milk, to the more obscure including eggs, waffles and pesto, there’s a vegan alternative for almost every ingredient, meal and snack.
There’s never been an easier or better time to enjoy Veganuary.
Glass House top tip: where possible, always opt for fresh vegan alternatives rather than frozen or processed. Read our blog here for great vegan alternatives to try this Veganuary.
Veganuary isn’t a competition. You don’t get scored on your vegan journey, and there certainly isn’t a prize come the end of the month for the ‘best vegan’. Veganuary is about challenging yourself, experiencing the benefits of a plant-based diet and doing something amazing to help the planet.
The world won’t implode and no one will come knocking on your door should you slip up once, twice or as many times as you do along your Veganuary journey. It’s better to be an imperfect vegan than to simply not try at all.
If you are worried about accidentally putting cow's milk into your tea or slipping a slice of ham into your sandwich, below are some ways to keep you on track during Veganuary.
It’s cliché, but it works. Removing all those pesky temptations throughout Veganuary will help you stick to your plant-based diet without constantly battling with what’s in your fridge.
To avoid waste, remove these temptations now and cut back on buying animal products. Then, once January hits, you don’t have to worry about cupboards full of distractions.
If you have unopened and in-date animal products in the house come Veganuary, consider donating them to a local food bank, or move them to a designated cupboard that you dare not venture into during your plant-based month. Perhaps a post-it note on the cupboard door will remind you of the potential Veganuary distractions that lurk inside?
For a first-time vegan, there are so many vegan-friendly alternatives around it can seem overwhelming. So before January, connect with vegans on Facebook groups or follow #vegan hashtags on Instagram to get some inspo into the best vegan alternatives. These alternatives can include vegan butter, milk, cheese and any other alternatives you may need during Veganuary.
Should cravings hit, you’ll have vegan options to tuck into rather than grabbing something quick that may break your Veganaury pledge. Think vegan chocolate, savoury snacks and, of course, plenty of fruit for when you fancy something sweet.
Veganuary offers a great opportunity to try new things, so trust your gut and sample a selection of Veganuary alternatives and treats.
Your love for great food certainly doesn’t have to take a backseat during Veganuary, and while you’ll enjoy creating new favourites in the kitchen, it’s always nice to have the option for eating out. Whether it’s a date night or catching up with friends at lunch, everyone likes a treat every now and again.
Researching vegan-friendly restaurants in your area helps ensure that you have access to a variety of vegan-friendly options should your colleagues invite you for a work lunch or if you really don’t fancy cooking after a long week.
You may find a vegan-friendly or plant-based restaurant in your local area that you never considered visiting before. Extra points if you visit an independent vegan restaurant, you’ll not only be helping the planet, but your local community too.
It can be difficult to keep up with a vegan lifestyle, especially when trying a vegan diet for the first time during Veganuary. Taking each day as it comes is a great way to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Spend time preparing meals and researching vegan-friendly recipes. Start small - choose one vegan meal each day to try or incorporate more plant-based proteins into your favourite meals.
Be prepared to have conversations with family and friends when it comes to eating out – this is where your knowledge on local vegan-friendly restaurants will come in handy, so you know you’ll get more than a simple side salad.
You may have to politely decline a tea or two if there’s no milk substitute (we’d recommend carrying emergency Twist Teas for such occasions), and you’ll have your answer to ‘why are you doing Veganuary’ memorised come the end of the month. But the benefits of Veganaury will make this all worth it.
If you find that you're struggling, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that Veganuary is about trying something new take it one day at a time. Come day 31, we’re sure you’ll wonder where the month went.
Where better to experience Veganuary than at a vegan wellness retreat? At Glass House, from the day you check in, our vegan menus will inspire and delight, and you’ll quickly realise there’s a whole new side to plant-based eating that you’re about to discover.
From breakfast to dinner, and everything in between, you’ll enjoy pancakes, waffles, burgers, smoothies, tacos, desserts and more made with 100% fresh and, where possible, organic, vegan ingredients. With Glass House’s cooking classes and demonstrations, you’ll be able to recreate these delicious vegan meals at home.
As a wellness retreat, we understand a well-balanced plant-based diet is crucial when it comes to positive wellbeing. We are what we eat, after all.
Our plant-based menus and juices are rich in vitamins and minerals, high in fibre and are all-around deliciously healthy. They contain all that your body craves. And the best part? All meals, smoothies and juices are freshly prepared each day, so all you have to do is decide what you fancy and our expert chefs will do the rest.
Whether you’re just trying out the vegan lifestyle for your stay, pledging to plant-based for Veganuary or you’re a veteran vegan, our dishes will satisfy and inspire every time. There really is no better place to stay during Veganuary than at the Glass House Retreat.