A Beginners Guide to Veganuary

Your go-to guide this Veganuary, with all the steps and info you’ll need to love every meal during this awesome month!

It’s Veganuary folks which means some of you may be trying to opt for a plant-based diet for the whole of January. We are completely behind this idea and for those of you who are new to the whole concept of eating plants instead of animal-based products we’ve created this accessible guide to support you through the wonderful world of veganism. From what to eat and what to look out for we’ve got all the info you need to know to get you started on the road to a cruelty-free month.

Here at Veggie Vagabonds, we support any steps towards a lifestyle free from animal products. If you are trying to go vegan for January we want to say congratulations and on behalf of the planet, thank you! By making this simple change to your lifestyle the effects are greater than you could ever imagine.

What to Eat for Veganuary?

As a vegan, there are a whole host of foods you can eat from fruits and veggies to grains and pulses which can be combined in a variety of ways to create delicious dishes. It seems so many people I meet think that us vegan just eat raw spinach. Some don’t realise that a lot of foods that most people eat daily are in fact vegan! Sure you may have to be a bit creative swapping out the meat and for a vegan alternative, but this is actually easier than you think.

  • Protein

One question we, especially Josh, get asked so often is “Where do you get your protein from?” Honestly, since turning vegan we’ve never had so many people worried about our nutritional intake and they find it hard to believe we can be so active whilst having a vegan diet. Here are a few vegan protein sources to incorporate into your diet:

Tofu – Can be added to vegetable dishes or served as a dish in itself.
Tempeh – Similar to tofu and in our opinion the better of the two. More flavoursome but harder to cook with compared to tofu.
Beans – Dried or canned these are a great source of protein.
Chickpeas and lentils – Can be cooked in a variety of ways and added to dishes.
Seeds – Eat raw or sprinkle on cereal or salads.
Nuts – Almonds, cashews, walnuts there’s a whole world of nuts out there.
Nut butters – Much like the above there is a variety of nut butter available to buy or you can make your own.
Seitan – a meat replacement with a “meaty” texture.
Linda McCartney products (available in the UK) – A whole host of Linda’s products are vegan. Just be sure to check the label as some contain egg or milk.
Fry’s products (available in the UK) – No need to check the label here as all their products are vegan.
Quorn (available in the UK) – Have started a vegan range which we’re really happy about. Again just be sure to check the label as some products contain egg or dairy.
Pulsin (available in the UK) – Have a load of protein bars and powders and the majority are vegan.

  • Dairy Replacements

In the past going vegan meant that the world of dairy was a no go zone. In today’s world though there’s a whole host of dairy replacements out there and here’s some of them:

Plant based spreads – An alternative to butter plant-based spreads and margarine are in abundance these days.
Dairy-free cheese – There are so many vegan cheese products to choose from these days we can’t keep up and believe us we have tried.
Plant milk – Soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp, coconut and many more. Get sampling and see which is your favourite.
Yoghurts – Made from soy or coconut.
Ice-cream – Much like cheese this market is really growing. So much so that big brands like Magnum, Cornetto and Ben & Jerry’s have jumped on the vegan bandwagon which makes up very happy chappies.

  • Baking

This used to be an intricate realm to navigate as a vegan. Nowadays baking as a vegan is a piece of cake!

Egg replacements – Flax seeds or chia seeds are a great alternative to eggs to help things bind.
Agave nectar or maple syrup – Are a great replacement for honey.
Coconut oil – Is good for replacing butter in recipes.
Dairy-free spreads – Also are great for replacing butter.

  • Cooking

As with baking there’s a range of vegan cooking alternatives out there that are easily sourced and easy to use.

Vegetable stock – As a vegan meaty alternative.
Nutritional yeast – This stuff is amazing and can be added to sauces for a cheesy nutty taste.
Agar agar – is a vegan alternative to gelatin.
Oils – Instead of using fat or lard (yuck) plant-based oils are a healthier alternative. Choose from; olive, coconut, sesame, avocado and vegetable plus more.

  • Condiments and sauces

Some of these are accidentally vegan and there’s also a whole range of vegan alternative products available:

Egg-free mayo – From supermarket own brands to big names, there’s no need to miss out on mayo.
Mustard – Most mustard is vegan so tuck-in.
Tomato sauce and ketchup – Again most is accidentally vegan.
Hot sauce – Be sure to check the label but you’ll be surprised at home many brands are vegan. Even sauces like Nandos which are made to traditionally accompany meat.
HP Sauce – You guessed it, vegan.

  • Grains

Grains are naturally vegan so you can keep enjoying these as you have and enjoy incorporating new ingredients and getting creative in the kitchen. Grains to try include;

Brown, wild or white rice
Whole grains – In breads or tortillas

  • Fruits and Vegetables

Again all these are vegan to fill your boots to your hearts content! Filling up on fruits and veggies will not only benefit your own health but it will have a positive impact on the environment and save animals lives. A win-win all round if you ask me. Some of our favourites include:

And so much more!

Vegan and like the outdoors? Check out our Vegan Adventures section. These vegan shoes also might be right up your street!

Sustainable female camper eating porridge
It’s always important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients!

Vegan Nutrition for Veganuary

As with any lifestyle and diet getting the right nutrients is vital for your health. With a vegan diet this is no different and eating a balanced diet is easily achievable. This seems to be the area people are most wary of when transitioning to veganism so here’s a quick guide on how to get those vital nutrients.

  • Protein

Protein is an essential part of our diet but it doesn’t need to come from animals. You can find protein in almost every food but it’s more prevalent in some compared to others. Good protein sources include;

Legumes and pulses – beans, lentils, soy like tofu or tempeh.
Grains – Rice, oats, bread, couscous, buckwheat.
Nuts – Brazils, cashews, peanuts, almonds.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for our bodies to be in tip-top shape and it doesn’t naturally occur in plants that we consume. For this reason, vegans have to look for other sources of B12 such as;

Marmite – You either love it or hate it and this stuff is a great way to up your daily dose of B12.
Nutritional yeast – Also known as nooch in the vegan world we could eat this stuff all day long. It’s fortified with a range of nutrients so you too can sprinkle this stuff all over your grub to your heart’s content.
Fortified cereals – You can find many own brands and big brand names that are fortified with B12.
Fortified milks – Similar to the above, choose which your favourite to up your B12 intake.
Vitamin supplements – For a quick and easy way to get your daily dose you can take a vitamin supplement.

If you want to find out more about B12 and what vegan foods you can find it in, click here to read more

  • Omega 3 and 6 plus Fatty Acids

Our bodies don’t naturally produce these fats so they’re therefore crucial in our diet.

Flax seeds
Chia seeds

Sunflower oil
Soya oil
Most nuts and seeds

  • Calcium 

Debunking that myth that calcium only exists in dairy there are so many plant-based sources:

Kale, collard greens and watercress
Soy yoghurt 
Fortified plant milks
Fortified Cereals

Not sure what to add to your first vegan shopping list? Here’s an awesome guide!

A Beginners Guide to Veganuary
Getting the right stuff in your diet is easy this Veganuary

Where to Eat Out for Veganuary

It seems to be a lot of new vegans fear this with thoughts of everyone in the restaurant staring at you thinking you’re some bunny rabbit hugging extremist who hates food. Trust us this isn’t the case. Collectively J and I have eaten out all over the globe and enjoyed a whole host of cuisines. Whether it’s in countries where veganism is understood and catered for or in lands where they can’t quite understand why you would want to not eat meat. We have conquered cuisines and are living proof that a vegan diet is possible across the globe. Here’s our condensed guide to eating out vegan:

  • Oriental and Asian cuisines 

Although meat plays a dominant part at the dinner table in oriental cuisines it can actually be a very good option for vegans when dining out. From Chinese to Thai, to Vietnamese and Japanese there are so many dishes you can indulge on as a vegan. In most of these cultures abstaining from eating animals on an ethical basis is understood and catered for. For this reason you can find an array of vegan dishes to enjoy:

Tofu – Served on its own or with vegetables as a great alternative to meat.
Vegetable dishes – Broccoli, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, green beans, pak choi, lotus root, jack fruit and so much more. Discover vegetables you never knew existed prepared in various sauces and spices.
Spring rolls and dumplings – Just check what they’re filled with when ordering.
Vegetable curries – Contain just veggies so are a great choice.
Noodles and rice – These can be served plain or stir-fried with veggies.

When ordering just be mindful to check that the dishes don’t include oyster sauce or fish sauce as in some restaurants these might be added during the cooking process.

  • Indian, Sri Lankan or Pakistani Food

We think one of the best cuisines to dine on as a vegan. There are so many vegetable dishes and traditionally the parts of the world where these cuisines hail from really understand abstaining from eating animals and the importance of doing so. What to eat:

Curry – Scoff your face with vegetable curries to your heart’s content.
Chapatti – Just make sure it’s plain and not brushed with butter.
Chutneys – Just watch out for ones that contain yoghurt.

One thing to look out for with Indian food it to check that it’s cooked in oil, not ghee as this is made with dairy. Other than that we have found that Indian food and curries is a delicious realm to explore as a vegan. We’re not at all biased because of our love of curry!

  • Italian

You can find lots of restaurants these days including many chains that offer a whole vegan menu. Places like Zizzi’s and Pizza express have a whole section just for us vegans. If you go somewhere where they don’t have a vegan menu just ask for no cheese on your pizza or pasta dish. Things to try as a vegan:

Arabiata pasta – A tomato-based sauce with olives and chilli.
Panzanelle – A traditional Italian salad that is great as a lighter bite.
Bruschetta – This starter or side can be topped with tomatoes. Just make sure there’s no cheese to keep it vegan.
Pizza – Hold the cheese and meat then, presto you’ve got yourself a veganised pizza.

When ordering just check the pasta isn’t made with eggs and ask for no cheese like parmesan on top then you’re on to a vegan winner!

  • Mexican

This cuisine although predominately meaty and cheesy can be easily veganised. Choose vegetable burritos and dishes and you’re good to go. Things to try:

Guacamole – A great alternative to cheese or sour cream we love this stuff. Just ask ahead to make sure it has no dairy as some chain restaurants bulk it out with cream rather than making it the traditional way.
Tomato salsa – Again a great alternative to cheese or sour cream.
Refried beans – Make sure they’re not made with butter and this is a great side or filler when dining Mexican

When eating out this Veganuary it’s good practice to call ahead and check that places can offer vegan options or that dishes can be veganised. You’d be surprised that most places are quite accommodating and may in fact already offer vegan dishes. Be mindful to not always assume, although you are a customer places don’t have to accommodate your dietary requirements and it may not always be possible.

Whether you’re travelling to the UK, Sri Lanka or Malaysia we have created a vegan guide with all you need to know when exploring new lands and eating vegan. 

A Beginners Guide to Veganuary
Eating out as a vegan is easier than you may think

Vegan Label Checker Guide

With veganism on the rise, more and more products are being labelled as vegan however just because they aren’t doesn’t mean they’re not. A large variety of products are actually vegan but just aren’t labelled so. This doesn’t mean your weekly shop is limited to just fruits and vegetables. Instead, you just have to know what you’re looking for and we’re here to offer a helping hand with this go-to guide of what to look out for this Veganuary when label checking.

You’re more likely to find products labelled as vegetarian than vegan and if you do you’re halfway there. Legally in the UK and some other parts of the world companies have to state what allergens a product contains which is helpful for us vegans. Look out for: eggs, milk, whey and casein as these are vegetarian but aren’t vegan as their derived from animals.  

Other things to look out for include:

Casein – A protein from animal milk.
Lactose – Sugar from animal milk.
Whey – From animal milk.
Gelatin – Used in jelly and sweets this is derived from the skin and bones of pigs or cows. 
Aspic – Similar to gelatin.
Collagen – Often used in cosmetics is sourced from the skin and bones of cows, pigs, fish and chickens. 
Elastin – Similar to collagen it’s found in the neck ligaments of animals. 
Keratin – From the skin, bone and connective tissue of cows, pigs, chickens and fish. 
Pepsin – Derived from pigs stomach.
Lard/tallow – Animal fat.
Honey – Food for bees, made by bees.
Propolis – Used by bees to make their hives.
Royal jelly – secretion of the throat gland of honey bees. (How do they even come up with this stuff?!)
Shellac – Derived from insects.
Vitamin D3 – Usually found in cosmetics is obtained from fish livers. 
Albumen – Typically from eggs.
Isinglass – Derived from fish bladders.
Cod liver oil – Pretty much is what it says on the tin, oil from the liver of codfish.

As well as the above E numbers are something to be mindful of as a vegan. These aren’t so easy to remember so this Veganuary be sure to refer to this list when label checking. E number to watch out for:

E120 Carmine
E441 Gelatin 
E542 Bone phosphate
E901 Beeswax
E904 Shellac 
E910, E920, E921 L-cysteine – Made from animal hair and feathers used in some bread.
E913 Lanolin – Derived from woolly animals such as sheep often used in cosmetics and to make vitamin D3.
E966 Lactitol – A sweetener derived from animal milk. 

If this Veganuary is your first time dining vegan don’t panic about remembering all these ingredients and numbers. Use this list as a handy guide when doing your shopping and you’ll be throwing your things into your trolley with ease.  

Vegan adventurer? Check out these vegan sleeping bags and vegan insulated jackets

A Beginners Guide to Veganuary
Check those ingredients and you’re good to go this Veganuary

Don’t be so Hard on Yourself

This one is so important for us! Veganism isn’t an exclusive club and any steps you can take to lead a lifestyle consuming fewer animal products is a step in the right direction. If you slip up the odd time don’t throw in the towel, we’re all human and it’s about making those small changes that have a bigger impact on the globe.

People choose veganism for different reasons: the environment, animal welfare, their health. Whatever your motivation it has a positive impact on the planet and yourself so focusing on that positive impact is what’s important rather than the odd slip-up. So give Veganuary a go this month! If you decide you like the plant-based life you can make the transition permanent and in that case, welcome to the wonderful world of veganism!

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and if you are attempting Veganuary or are transitioning and want some advice get in touch! We always love hearing from you guys and if we can offer and vegan-based support then we are always happy to help.

A Beginners Guide to Veganuary
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A Whole Bunch of Reasons a Vegan Diet Sucks 

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2 Responses

  • Aw guys this is absolutely fantastic and so full of information! For the past year we have been transitioning towards eating a lot more veggie and vegan meals. We weren’t quite prepared enough for veganuary this year as we hadn’t done enough research into where we were getting some nutrients and vitamins from. So we decided to start off with a veggie month and try to move forward to a vegan month. This guide has given us so much of the information we needed to read to help our journey so thank you for sharing ?

    • Hey guys, so glad you liked the article. We really want to help make veganism more accessible so it’s great to hear that you found it helpful. Trying a month veggie then vegan definitely sounds like a good plan. Our own journey involved us being veggies before transitioning to veganism completely so we can vouch for it. If you ever have any questions about vegan nutrition or eating a more plant based diet hit us up as we’d love help in any way possible? How the veggie month going? 🙂

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