Top Challenges of Veganuary and How to Avoid Them
Are you doing Veganuary or considering making the switch to a plant-based diet? First and foremost, kudos to you! Transitioning to a vegan diet is a great way to improve both your health and the health of the planet. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, while also reducing our carbon footprint and preserving natural resources.
Going vegan can often be a big lifestyle change, and like any major change, it comes with its own set of challenges. But, don't worry - we've identified seven common obstacles that people often face when starting Veganuary, and we're here to offer solutions to help you overcome them like a pro.
Missing Your Old Favourites
The thought of giving up your favourite foods can be tough. Tackling this is all about the mindset. Instead of focusing on what you're giving up, redirect your attention towards the plethora of plant-based alternatives that can hit the same sweet or savoury spots. Why not start by exploring vegan cookbooks and websites that offer recipes for plant-based versions of popular dishes? You can even experiment with new ingredients to create your own plant-based versions of your favourite meals.
However, it's important not to feel overwhelmed and replace all your preferred dishes at once. Instead, start by finding a few plant-based alternatives that you enjoy and gradually add more to your diet.
Let's say your favourite food is pizza. Instead of giving up pizza altogether, you can try making your own plant-based pizza using vegan cheese and toppings like mushrooms, onions, and peppers. You can also explore vegan pizza options at your local pizzeria or try making a cauliflower crust pizza for a healthier twist. If you love burgers, try swapping out the meat patty for a plant-based alternative like a black bean burger or a Beyond Burger. And for those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of vegan dessert options such as vegan ice cream, brownies, and cookies. You can even make your own vegan desserts using ingredients like coconut milk, almond flour, and agave syrup.
Remember to concentrate on the benefits of a plant-based diet, such as improved health and a positive impact on the planet, rather than focusing on what you're giving up. Switching to a plant-based diet is a process, and it may take time to find plant-based alternatives that you love, but with an open mind and a little creativity, you'll discover new foods that you'll enjoy.
Lack of Nutritional Knowledge
It's important to be in the know about the nutrients you need for a healthy, balanced diet. Doing some research on plant-based nutrition can be enlightening - plus, it'll help you to feel confident in your food choices.
Plant-based foods offer an impressive range of nutrients that can be hugely beneficial to your health. But depending on where you fall on the plant-based spectrum, there may be some nutrients that you should pay more attention to — particularly if you go vegan.
Research shows that vegans are more likely to be low in certain micronutrients. This includes vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D. While proper meal planning can prevent several nutrient deficiencies, some nutritional gaps may still exist in the most well-planned vegan diet. This is where supplements come in handy. With the help of a daily multivitamin or supplements tailored to specific nutrients, such as our Vegan Essential Multivitamin, you can ensure that your body is receiving all the essential vitamins and minerals it requires to flourish.
Dining out or eating at a friend's place can be tricky. However, most restaurants now offer vegan options, and you can always enquire before visiting. When meeting friends, communicate your dietary needs without embarrassment. If you're comfortable with your choice, chances are they will be too.
Finding Vegan Products
While finding vegan products might seem daunting, it's easier now more than ever. Many supermarkets and online stores have wide range of vegan options. It's all about knowing where to look and familiarising yourself with vegan-friendly brands.
If you're not sure where to start, a quick online search can help you find vegan products that meet your dietary needs. You can also join online vegan communities and forums to get recommendations from fellow vegans.
Feeling Hungry or Unsatisfied
When transitioning to a vegan diet, it's important to keep in mind that you may feel more hungry or unsatisfied at first, especially if you're used to consuming a lot of animal products. To avoid this, it's important to focus on getting enough fibre and protein in your meals. These nutrients are key for keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
To ensure you're getting enough fibre, try to incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals. Legumes such as lentils and beans are also high in fibre and make a great addition to vegan meals. These foods also provide a good source of protein along with other essential nutrients.
If you're struggling to come up with meal ideas, consider using a vegan meal planning service like allplants or cookbooks. These resources can provide you with a variety of delicious and satisfying meal options that are rich in fibre and protein.
Managing the Transition
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can be challenging and overwhelming, especially if you are used to eating animal-based products. While there are people who can make the switch to veganism overnight, for others, it may take more time. The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong pace when it comes to making this transition. It is essential to find your own pace that works best for you.
Staying motivated can be difficult, especially when trying to stick to a whole new diet. However, it's essential to keep in mind the reasons why you chose to participate in Veganuary, whether it's for health, environmental, or animal-related reasons. You can also find motivation by connecting with the vegan community online or in your local area, as they can offer encouragement and support. It's crucial to be kind to yourself and not be too hard if you slip up or struggle with the vegan diet. Instead, view these setbacks as learning opportunities and keep exploring new vegan recipes and food options. And, most importantly, enjoy the process! By maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated, you can successfully complete Veganuary and even adopt a more plant-based lifestyle beyond the month-long challenge.
Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.