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Our guide to Veganuary

We are encouraging everyone to take the month-long Veganuary pledge and try vegan this January. Sign up now and every day in January you’ll receive an email with all the support you need to make trying vegan easy:
- Daily hints and tips
- Meal plans and recipes
- Information about the benefits of a vegan diet for health, animals and the planet.

More than half a million people have previously taken part - trying a plant-based diet in January to reduce their environmental footprint, protect animals and improve their health.

No matter your reasons for going vegan this January, we at Jan de Vries are here to help. Many assume the campaign will be as simple as giving up meat and dairy for the month but going vegan can translate to your skincare and make-up choices as well as affecting the supplements that you should be taking.

Our guide to vegan food….

The biggest challenge for many going vegan in January is adjusting to their new dietary restriction. The Western diet is particularly saturated with meat dishes and dairy, with Sunday Roasts and Saturday night take-aways being ingrained into us at a cultural level. At first going vegan can seem like a daunting prospect – no pizza? No chocolate? No ice-cream? No thanks!

However, going vegan doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on your old favourites – nowadays there’s an astounding range of vegan alternatives available and I’m here to share a few of our personal favourites!

Chocolate

Despite its numerous disadvantages when it comes to our health, many of us still struggle to resist our chocolate cravings. If you’re vegan, however, what do you do when your sweet tooth starts itching? Well, despite rumours to the contrary, vegans enjoy a good bar of chocolate as much as the next person!

With brands ranging from Ombar to Almighty Foods, you’re bound to find a vegan-friendly chocolate that satisfies your cravings and, as discussed in our article ‘Vegan chocolate vs. Milk chocolate,’ vegan chocolate is often better for you than ordinary chocolate as it is often made  with low GI coconut sugar and flavonoid-rich cacao!

Some of our all-time favourite chocolate goodies are Booja-Booja’s Fine de Champaign truffles. Infused with champagne and creamy dark chocolate, these indulgent treats boast a silky-smooth gnanche that’s topped with a fine layer of cacao powder. Irresistible and definitely able to hold its own against other traditional high street brands!

However, if you prefer trying to whip up your own chocolate treats at home, we recommend using Lucy Bee's Cacao Powder. Rich and gorgeously chocolatey, it provides a great flavour without being too overpowering. We really enjoy using it in our baking and even included it in our recipes for Chocolate & Cherry Energy Bites, which you can check out in the video below.

Milk

Here in the UK, we are a nation of tea lovers and coffee connoisseurs. While we always advocate for cutting down on caffeine, there’s no doubting that many of us would be lost without our morning cuppa or our bowl of cereal. Yet many that are new to Veganuary seem to think that they may have to forego these staples when this simply isn’t true.

Non-dairy milks are everywhere these days and you have so much choice available, from almond milk to rice milk to the traditional soy milk.

You don’t have to be stuck in a rut or denied hot chocolate and, best of all, these milks are incredibly versatile. You can use them to make homemade ice cream or overnight oats.

When it comes to dairy-free milk, though, we generally favour Brown Rice Milk for my morning cups of coffee and lattes, and save sweeter milks, such as Coconut Milk, for my curries and ice cream. What we wouldn’t be without, however, is Rude Health’s Almond Drink. It’s light, wonderfully creamy and deliciously sweet and perfect for smoothies and other treats!

Snacks & spices

Herbs and spices will definitely be your new best friend over the next month. One thing we found trying Veganuary was how it forced us to get back in the kitchen after relying for so long on quick fixes. Until then, any containers of turmeric, cumin or cinnamon decorating our kitchen's had been relatively unused but once we started to experiment, it really broadened our horizons. Now we wouldn’t be without a jar of Meridian Dark Tahini or some of Lucy Bee’s Turmeric Powder. It also opened our eyes to simpler ingredients that we normally have lying around the house, like coconut oil and nut butter, which are both now key components of this Sticky Vegan Caramel Popcorn!

You’ll also need to make sure you’re getting a good balance of nutrients and one way of accomplishing this is to make sure you invest in the right snacks. We love whizzing up fruit smoothies  topped with chia seeds and goji berries or enriched with superfood powders such as energy-boosting Maca or antioxidant-rich Spirulina.

While it’s always nice to try and make your own snacks though, sometimes it just isn’t always possible. As we have detailed in our article ‘Our favourite snacks to beat that mid-afternoon slump’ there are plenty of quick and easy, vegan-friendly snacks available, from Squirrel Sisters’ nutty bars to Deliciously Ella’s energy balls!

Our guide to vegan supplements…

We recently wrote about the supplements you might want to consider taking if you’re going vegan so we really recommend checking out that article for a more in depth analysis. While ideally more experience vegans are able to get everything they need from a plant-based diet, those that are new to veganism might struggle to get all the nutrients that they need initially.

This is where supplements come into the picture and we would always recommend starting with an organic, high-quality protein powder. Although you may think of protein powders as being associated with body-builders and fitness fanatics, they can be a valuable tool for vegans, helping them to achieve their daily protein needs. Sunwarrior is one of our favourite brands as their protein is sourced from raw, wholegrain brown rice and contains all essential and non-essential amino acids, as well as being easy to digest!

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, you need to seriously consider your intake of iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. Iron is crucial for the formation of red blood cells and low levels of iron can trigger anaemia while vitamin B12 is important for your nervous system. Lacking in any of these valuable nutrients will lead to an array of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings and low immune function.

Our guide to vegan skincare & make-up

As we mentioned earlier, skincare and make-up aren’t always top of mind when you make the switch to a vegan diet, with food and supplements often coming first. However, veganism isn’t just about what you eat, what you put on your skin counts too and, unfortunately, many high-street brands utilise animal by-products in their skincare creams and make-up, with some even testing their goods first on animals.

If you’re unsure about which brands are cruelty-free and which brands are vegan-friendly, Peta do offer a comprehensive list here, however here at Jan de Vries we also offer a range of natural and affordable vegan skincare brands. Looking for a nourishing moisturiser? Why not try Sukin’s Facial Moisturiser? There’s so much to choose from to satisfy every skin type from oily skin to dry skin!

When it comes to make-up you can pick from our premiere and luxury make-up brands,including INIKA and even a few select products from Dr Hauschka! With everything from purple lipsticks to bronzers, to blushes and foundations, you’re bound to find something that catches your eye! Our shout-out would have to go to INIKA’s impressive range of vegan lipsticks, varying from pale pinks, to coral, to intense reds and violaceous purples!

Our helpful tips

So that’s our guide to food, supplements and beauty but what else should you know while doing Veganuary?

Expenses

Well first things first, a lot of potential vegans do worry about the cost of converting to a meat and dairy-free lifestyle, imagining that their grocery bills will skyrocket within the first couple of weeks. This isn’t untrue, at least until you have the essentials in place. Once you’ve picked your supplements, protein powders and have a full spice rack you should notice that your spending’s calm down considerably, especially since your diet will be now mostly based on fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. 

Eating out

What about social events and dinner with friends? How easy you find eating out while maintaining a vegan diet will, unfortunately, largely depend on where you live. Cities such as Glasgow, London and Manchester offer a great array of restaurants and cafes that cater to the vegan demographic but more rural areas can be tricky. Worry not though – Peta have accumulated a list of popular high-street eateries that now offer vegan options on their menus, from Subway to Weatherspoons!

Save your leftovers

If you are still worried about the expense of going vegan, a good tip is to try and save your leftovers. Popular ingredients such as potatoes, chickpeas and lentils can easily be used for multiple meals while leftover veg can be incorporated into soups, smoothies or curries. We normally make a big dhal at the beginning of the week and use any leftover veg for soups and risottos!

Quick fixes

Home cooking is great but as we said earlier, sometimes it just isn’t always feasible. When you’re in a rush the last thing you want to do is slave over a sweet potato curry or brew up a spiced lentil soup. Fortunately, many high-street supermarkets are now offering vegan options with Quorn now providing vegan chicken pieces and burgers while brands such as M&S offer vegan-friendly spring rolls, salads and falafels. Even Ben & Jerry’s are hopping on the bandwagon with their dairy-free take on popular flavours such as Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Fudge Brownie!

What are you waiting for? Sign up today to be a part of the worldwide Veganuary phenomenon. https://veganuary.com/register/