Nutrition

Veganuary 2022: What to know about the one-month vegan challenge

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January is the perfect time to try something new. The non-profit Veganuary believes that it’s an especially good time to try out a new diet — a vegan one, to be exact. 

A vegan diet excludes all meat, fish, dairy, eggs and other animal products. Veganuary challenges you to follow this plant-based diet for the whole month of January and enter the New Year with a fresh mindset.

Veganuary may be trendy, but your new vegan diet could turn into a full-time lifestyle. Learn more about the potential benefits of going vegan, how to make the switch and how to join Veganuary in 2022.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary (yes, a combination of “vegan” and “January”) is a UK-based non-profit organization that values the Earth and all its inhabitants. Each year, the organization challenges people to eat only vegan foods for the entire month of January in an effort to promote health, protect the environment and end animal farming.

Since 2014, millions of participants have taken part in the Veganuary pledge. In addition to the January challenge, Veganuary supports vegan businesses and restaurants year-round. In the process, they get the word out about vegan diets in the media. 

According to the organization, over 500,000 people from 200 countries participated in Veganuary by starting a new vegan diet in 2021. With hopes of increasing that number in 2022, Veganuary invites you to take the 31-day pledge this January. 

The benefits of a vegan diet

Vegan diets aren’t for everyone. But there are benefits of a well-balanced vegan diet, especially one that consists of plenty of whole, minimally processed plant foods.

Good for the environment: A vegan diet is “probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth,” according to Joseph Poore, lead author of a 2018 study in Science that analyzed the impact of almost 40,000 farms worldwide. Not only do vegan diets produce fewer greenhouse gases, but they also conserve essential resources like water and land.  

Lowers your sugar intake: Heavily processed foods tend to have a higher sugar content than fruits, vegetables and other whole plant-based foods. Eliminating these foods from your diet reduces your sugar intake. High amounts of sugar have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and other diseases.  

Healthier heart: Saturated fats are a leading cause of high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. The amount of saturated fats is drastically decreased in diets free of meat and dairy. Consuming less saturated fat also reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke.

A healthy way to lose weight: Some animal products, like red meat and dairy, are high in calories and fat. Eating less of these foods can translate to weight loss, if that’s your goal. Various studies have shown that vegan diets are the most effective at maintaining weight loss, compared to vegetarian or omnivorous diets.

Read more: Everything you need to know about a vegan diet, explained

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Is Veganuary right for you?

You should pledge to go vegan for all of January if you think a plant-based diet is right for you, whether you’re looking to be kinder to the Earth or improve your health.

Still, if you’re new to a vegan diet and participate in Veganuary, you’ll need to quit meat, cheese, fish and other animal-based food staples cold turkey. That isn’t for everyone. Instead, consider trying a vegetarian diet first, then slowly wean yourself off other animal products. Similarly, if cutting out foods doesn’t sound feasible or healthy for you, know that you can always try boosting the amount of plant foods that you eat on a daily basis without going vegan.

But for some, an abrupt withdrawal might be the push you’re looking for. If this sounds like your mindset, then the 31-day challenge is for you.

How to join Veganuary 2022

If you decide to take on the Veganuary challenge, you can visit the company’s website. Once prompted, sign up with your email address (it’s free, and you can unsubscribe at any time). 

You can also participate in Veganuary independently without signing up on the website. If you decide to sign up, you’ll receive free resources in your inbox, such as an e-cookbook with delicious recipes, nutritional tips, daily emails that offer encouragement and support, shopping advice and restaurant recommendations — everything you need to succeed.

Then, for 31 days, attempt an all-plant diet. 

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7 tips and tricks for new vegans

If you’re new to veganism, you’re right on time — these days it’s more convenient than ever to steer clear of animal products. But you still have to do some planning to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

1. Plan your days

Map out your meals for the entire week and prepare your groceries beforehand. If this is an entirely new diet for you, consider how much your daily routine might have to change. Make sure to have a few vegan snacks on hand, too.      

2. Use technology to your advantage

One of the benefits of becoming a vegan today is that there are many apps out there to ease the transition. Check out HappyCow, Oh She Glows, Vegan Amino and Veg Menu in the App Store and Google Play for tasty recipes and vegan-friendly restaurants near you.

3. Take it one step at a time

Don’t feel pressured to become vegan overnight. Wean yourself off your favorite animal products one by one. Start with the simple changes first, then ease yourself into more of the plant-based diet. 

4. Check your pantry 

Starting a vegan diet doesn’t mean you have to start at zero. You might even have vegan-friendly options in your fridge and pantry. Some common household food items you might have include nuts, beans, lentils, fruit, rice and pasta.  

5. Find your favorite protein

With meat out of the question, you will need to find a substitute for your protein. Some common proteins vegans lean to are tofu, rice, grains and beans. There’s plenty of imitation meat for sale, as well. 

6. Vitamin B-12 is a must

In plant-based diets, vitamin B-12 is often hard to come by. It is recommended that vegans try especially hard to meet a daily requirement of B-12 (found in nutritional yeast and some cereals). If not, you can opt for a B-12 vitamin supplement.  

7. Milk isn’t the only way to obtain calcium

Don’t worry about missing out on calcium if you are a huge milk drinker. There are other calcium-rich foods that do the same job. Foods with high levels of calcium include tofu, white beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes and plant-based yogurt. 

Easy vegan meal ideas

Veganuary has a lot of helpful tips and information for those just starting a vegan diet. One of the best resources it offers are the easy-to-follow recipes for all meals of the day.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snacks

Dessert

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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