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As we say our farewells to 2020 and welcome in the new year, many of us are likely looking ahead at how we can improve ourselves. Although new year's resolutions are slowly beginning to lose popularity (with more folks opting to make positive lifestyle changes all year round instead) that doesn't mean we can't set ourselves a few intentions for 2021.
One intention that you may have your eye on is veganism, which is certainly not losing popularity anytime soon. The number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019!
There are three main reasons people go vegan, for health, for the planet and the animals. It doesn't matter what reason you're doing it for; you're still vegan regardless of motivation. So, why should you go vegan this January?
Some of the world's top athletes have adopted a plant-based diet, such as Lewis Hamilton and Venus Williams. If it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me! Too many animal products often make people feel sluggish, bloated, and even tired, which is why people describe a boost in energy when switching to a vegan diet. Did you know that overindulging on animal products has been found to be equally as harmful as smoking?
As well as looking after your health, you'll also be helping the planet by reducing your carbon footprint. Industrial animal agriculture contributes to 14% of greenhouse gas emissions and is a massive global warming driver.
Discovering the meat, dairy, and egg industries' inhumane atrocities is the tipping point that makes many people go vegan. We have been sold the lie that farm animals live in rural landscapes and lead long, happy lives - that's what we see in the advertisements, anyway. Severe overcrowding, mistreatment, festering disease, and many more horrendous things actually happen behind closed doors in factory farms.
My top tip for treating yourself to a restaurant meal or takeaway is to broaden your horizons! If you stick with classic fish and chips every week, you're not going to leave yourself with many choices. Asian cuisines have many vegan-friendly dishes or that can be easily veganized, the same with Ethiopian dishes and sometimes even Italian. If you're looking for somewhere local to you that caters for vegans, download the Happy Cow app which will let you know about all the hidden gems in your area.
Cooking as a vegan could not be easier. You can whip up delicious vegan meals in a matter of minutes with a handful of plant-based ingredients, all it takes is a little bit of practice and research. You can also get plant-based meats, dairy, and egg products in almost every supermarket in the UK.
If you're a first-time vegan cook, I recommend that you take an open-minded approach and be experimental. Branch out into different cuisines, use new ingredients, and be prepared to try new (perhaps more advanced) vegan recipes! A lot of people discover a newfound appreciation for cooking when they go vegan, including myself.
As I mentioned before, almost every supermarket carries vegan options nowadays, particularly during Veganuary. You'll probably find that it's easier to shop for vegan products this month, as it's such a huge occasion. Supermarkets also tend to have handy filters on their online stores, allowing you to see their entire selection of vegan-friendly products.
You needn't limit yourself to just supermarket shopping, however. You might find it easier to shop somewhere that's entirely vegan so that there's no room for error. If you're fortunate enough to live in a place with a vegan shop, then take advantage of that. Or seek out an online vegan shop, like The Vegan Kind Supermarket, for example!
Everyone slips up, whether it's a diet, a fitness regime, or failing to stick to a new routine. But just because you slip up once doesn't mean you should quit forever, and that's the same for Veganuary. New vegans sometimes unintentionally eat something with animal products in it, through no fault of their own, simply because it can be tricky to be a vegan in a non-vegan world. New vegans also ‘slip up’ by eating animal products after losing motivation or giving into cravings. It's all normal. Remember that you're not a failure if you make a few mistakes throughout Veganuary, nobody's perfect, and you can always try again. Being vegan for a small part of January is better than not trying at all.
First things, first, you do not have to worry about getting enough protein! If you're consuming enough calories, then you should be getting a sufficient amount of protein. However, there are a few other vitamins and minerals to look out for such as vitamin D, iron, and vitamin B12. Chances are, you're unlikely to need supplements after only a month of veganism. B12 is the only supplement that's 100% necessary to take, as due to modern hygiene practices it's no longer found in plant foods.
If you find that you're struggling with cravings, or feel overwhelmed by the prospect of quitting animal products, don't be afraid to reach out to ask for help. There are forums and groups online dedicated to helping vegans and sharing advice, or you could chat with someone you know in person. More often than not, people are willing to help.
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