If you've been thinking about starting a vegan diet, January is the month to do it. In fact, do this Veganuary - a word from the UK non-profit organization of the same name. Started in 2014, Veganuary works to encourage people to eat only plant foods for the month of January. Since then, participation has more than doubled every year, with around 1.3 million people signing up for Veganuary in 2019. Anyone can do Veganuary, and it's okay if you don't spend time at a plant meeting.
But if you don't eat any meat, or can't imagine how you can survive a month (or more) without eggs or milk, you may want to some advice. Here are expert answers to the most common questions about Veganuary, along with some tips for less plant power.
Can I get all the nutrients I need from a vegan diet?
First, a brief summary of foods that can be part of a vegan diet. "Vegetarians choose from a variety of vegetables, legumes, grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds to prepare their meals," explains the American Vegan Society website.
However, getting all the nutrients you need from these types of foods may not be easy. "The biggest nutritional deficiency in veganism is vitamin B12, which is found in animal foods," says Florida nutritionist and personal trainer McKenzie Flinchum, RD. Unless you're eating a solid vegan product to meet your nutritional needs, Flinchum recommends taking a supplement. "A lack of B12 can cause anemia," he said. "Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iodine, and iron are other nutrients to look out for if you're following a vegetarian diet. It's important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables foods, fruits, seeds and nuts. , vegetable oils, beans and legumes to meet micronutrient needs."
Will veganuary help me lose weight?
The goal of Veganuary is not to lose weight; the movement began "as a way to protect the environment, prevent animal suffering, and improve the health of millions of people," according to the Veganuary website.
But you may find yourself losing weight, whether you like it or not, if you don't watch your diet. "Instead of focusing on cutting out animal foods, focus on what to add to your diet," Flinchum suggests. And always keep nutrition at the forefront of your mind. "Make sure to replace animal foods with plant-based foods instead of eliminating them," she says. "It's a way to make sure caloric needs are met."
This mindset should come in if you are a carnivore; There is no doubt that following a vegan diet is more difficult if you eat meat all the time. As Flinchum says, think about what you're gaining (new flavors, new recipes, and tons of veggies you've probably never heard of before) rather than what you're losing.
How can I be sure I'm not eating animal meat?
According to the American Vegan Society, "Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, fowl, cow or goat milk, eggs, honey, or foods prepared from these products or other animal products such as gelatin, beef or chicken, lard or pork. long."
For a vegan beginner, this may seem like a daunting list, but there are many, if not more, foods you can eat: whole fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, tempeh, Nuts, seeds and whole grains, for starters. . .
It's likely to be confusing if you eat prepackaged foods, so make a habit of checking the ingredients list to make sure there are no animal products. "Vegetarian foods are labeled 'vegan-friendly' or 'vegan'," says Flinchum. "In addition, if the product contains milk, eggs, or seafood, it will be listed on the allergy list."
What should I do if I slip?
Don't blame yourself if you accidentally eat something with milk or accidentally eat your friend's hot dog. These things happen. (And don't let anyone else make you feel bad, your food is up to you.)
Veganuary is designed to be a challenge, so leave yourself with all the shortcuts necessary to make the diet work, Philadelphia-based vegan entrepreneur Nicole Marquis, founder and CEO of HipCityVeg, told Health. "Becoming a vegetarian can be overwhelming at first," she says. “Make it easy for yourself; for example, buy chopped vegetables if you need them, for easy meal preparation. »
Another good tip is to take vegetarian food with you when you travel, so you are always prepared with a wooden plate when you are hungry.
What if I can't cook?
Going vegan for a month doesn't mean you'll suddenly become the next Derek Sarno (vegan chef). You can find a vegan version of almost anything you eat in a meat-based diet: pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, tacos, pasta... you get the picture. Many restaurants and takeouts offer vegetarian options, and you'll find pre-packaged vegan meals in grocery stores.
It's also really easy to switch out foods that have meat-like flavors or textures, says New York-based vegetarian chef Anthony Spino. "For example, jackfruit - the largest fruit that grows on trees - has the same type of meat and gets the taste of everything you cook," he told Health. "Well, it's a great source of fiber, and it can be a great meat substitute in tacos or chili."
And if you want to try some simple recipes, start with a sweet potato curry or a creamy pasta filled with vegetables. You will quickly find out that there is no confusion in the vegan diet. They are a very tasty vegetable full of flavor and texture.
If your attempt to go vegan in January fails, or you decide you just don't have the motivation to continue, don't worry. Veganism is not for everyone, but you can always try again or follow a modified vegan diet that is generally acceptable.
But if Veganuary inspires you to stick to your regular vegan diet, you're in luck: February is Vegan Food Month, the perfect time to check out vegan options for local dining you.
Veganuary started in 2014 to encourage people to go Vegan for the month of January. Since then, participation has more than doubled every year.