2020 has definitely been the year of the vegan and veganism seems to have been everywhere - from sausage rolls at Gregs to the launch of amazing vegan and plant-based ranges in all the major supermarkets. 2021 looks set to be even bigger and there is no better time of year than Veganuary.
There will be new product launches, lots of news articles and press stories about veganism and hundreds of thousands of people will try a vegan diet for the first time.
If you're one of the many people deciding to go vegan or to try Veganuary in 2021 here are ten of our top tips for a successful transition to veganism or a hassle-free Veganuary.
1. Find the accidentally vegan foods
It's amazing how many foods are out there that are accidentally vegan and these can make those early days of veganism so much easier. I'd never even eaten an Oreo before going vegan but they became my go-to biscuit at the beginning. Discovering that chilli flavoured Dorito's, Jus Roll pastry, Skittles and Starburst and Cadbury's Bourneville chocolate were all vegan was a revelation. Follow Accidentally Vegan on Instagram for lots of other tips.
2. Veganise your favourite dishes
If there are particular foods that you love that you think you won't be able to live without then a good tip is to try and veganise these early on so you can reach for them if you are feeling like it's getting difficult.
Whether that's swapping out milk for a plant-based type (we love oat) to make your favourite porridge, finding a great vegan mince to be able to make your go-to chilli or finding a great brand of vegan ice-cream so you can indulge your sweet-tooth after dinner - if you can do these for your favourites then it will make everything else a bit easier. My nirvana moment was discovering One Arab Vegan's tofu Halloumi. Some of our favourite recipes can be found here.
3. Allow your tastebuds time to adapt
One thing we would advise though is that it can take a bit of time for your tastebuds to adapt and if you try something at the beginning and find you don't like it, don't be afraid to try it again later on as you might find that you suddenly enjoy it. I'll never forget the first time I tried vegan cheese - I called it Vile Life (instead of Violife) but now years-in a slice of the vegan cheddar with a bit of pickle is just delicious).
It also took some time and a lot of trial and error for me to perfect a delicious tofu scramble in place of scrambled eggs. Now I can't get enough of it. So persevere if you don't like the taste of something, or try another brand.
4. Connect with other vegans
Have you heard the joke "how do you know if someone is vegan?" "Don't worry they'll tell you!" I have to say this is certainly true of myself. Once you mention you're gong vegan you'll have every nearby vegan rushing over to give you advice. Yo can gain so many tips and hacks this way. Alternatively there are some great vegan forums out there and lots of vegan pages on places like Instagram and Facebook where you can go to connect and get advice.
5. Use apps and websites
There are lots of great websites and apps out there, some hyper local and others covering a wider geographical area, recipes, advice even vegan dating if that's something you're looking for. First things first check out the Veganuary website as it has a wealth of advice on there for getting started.
The other two we would recommend looking at is the Happy Cow app - which provides really helpful info on where you can find vegan food nearby and the Barnivore website - for when you're standing in the alcohol aisle not knowing whether a bottle of wine is vegan or not. Wine labelling is definitely behind the curve and it's often impossible to tell if something is vegan or not.
6. Read and understand food labelling
Any good vegan will tell you that you're about to spend a lot of time carefully squinting over the ingredients list in the supermarket. Food labelling is improving and many products that are vegan do clear state this making it easier for you to see but there are still many things that are not clear and many ingredients that are definitely not vegan lurking in many foods.
Depending on which brand you choose salt and vinegar crisps may or may not contain milk powder. Why we don't know but remember to check which brand you're eating before you reach for a handful.
Our biggest tip is to remember that 'may contain' does not mean it does contain. There are many things that are labelled may contain milk but this is more do to with the factory it is produced in. Look out for the E numbers as many of these are not vegan. E120 (cochineal/carmine), E542 edible bone phosphate, E901 beeswax and E904 shellac are all some to look out for.
7. Prep in advance
I definitely found it easier at the beginning when I prepped what I was eating in advance. This was a bit of a shift as I often shopped as I went along and threw things together last minute but this was more difficult once I'd gone vegan and I found I was often staring into the fridge not sure what I would be cooking. Luckily for me there were an abundance of on demand vegan food deliveries in my area but neither my wallet or my waistline thanked me. So plan out what you're going to eat and then get all the ingredients you need in advance.
8. Think about nutrition
If you eat the right foods you can pretty much get all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need but knowing what to eat can take time. So my advice early on would be to pop a vegan multivitamin to ensure you're covering the basics and then adjust once you are sure you're getting what you need from food. I'd highly recommend The Vegan Kitchen by vegan nutritionist Rose Glover and Laura Nickoll - it has a wealth of useful info in it.
Going vegan can feel quite overwhelming at times. The very fact that people feel the need to write how to and top tips lists are a testament that it can be a bit of a minefield to begin with but don't feel that you have to be the perfect vegan. We all make mistakes and everyone has probably eaten or drank something non vegan at some point by mistake or in a moment of 'weakness' - if that happens just acknowledge it and move on. Veganism is a journey and we're learning all the time.
10. Think about non food products
And finally, we wouldn't be a very good vegan lifestyle marketplace if we didn't mention that being vegan isn't just about the food. Vegan food gets all the attention but there are animal-derived ingredients in many of the things people use and wear each day - such as clothes, shoes and skincare as well as the little things we enjoy such as a scented candle or snuggling up with a comfy throw.
The good news is there are vegan versions of pretty much everything you need and some really amazing innovations such as vegan leather made from apples or pineapples that can be fashioned into beautiful shoes or bags; candles made from soy or rapeseed to replace beeswax; skincare and make-up that are vegan and cruelty-free, which means they are not tested on animals; and homewares such as vegan wools for comfy throws and blankets.
We'll be showcasing these wonderful things here at Vegue shortly, once our store opens, so do sign up for our newsletter and check back here to see some of the amazing things we will be featuring.
Our advice is not to rush and throw everything out that isn't vegan. We're totally about sustainability, so replace things as you need to, one thing at a time - a new cushion here, a belt there and be sure to let your friends and family know to buy you vegan gifts in future.
So there you have it our top 10 tips for going vegan. Good luck!