Veganuary is a global initiative to encourage people to turn vegan for the whole month of January.
The campaign first started in 2014 and since then has rapidly grown in popularity – 3,000 people initially took part, rising to 629,000 participants in January 2022.
The term Veganuary is a mishmash of the two words ‘Vegan’ and ‘January’.
During the month, many companies and restaurants offer new vegan dishes and products for everyone to try out, and will share recipes, tips and tricks on social media.
The initiative is for those who are veggie-curious or those who just want to try it out for fun.
Taking part in Veganuary is a great way to start off the New Year or your veggie/vegan journey without having the pressure of being judged by family and friends, since you can claim that it’s just a ‘challenge’.
I turned vegan five years ago, and had been a vegetarian two years prior to that – so I know some tricks of the trade. The longer you’re vegan, the easier it becomes.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you take part in Veganuary:
1. Don’t Be Picky
The truth is that your choice of food is limited (at least in Malta) and although recent years have seen a surge in vegan alternatives there are still many products vegans can’t consume.
If you try Veganuary, try embracing new foods which you would have otherwise never tried like olives or tofu. I am much more of an adventurous eater now than I was eight years ago, partially due to age, but turning vegan definitely pushed me into trying more foods.
2. Eat All The Carbs
Yes, you need to eat carbs. Being on a vegan diet means that you’re already cutting down on lots of junk food, oils, and cheeses which are all high in calories.
No more late-night McDonalds after a night out drinking. This is a good thing – there’ll be plenty of space for bread, pasta, and rice. Carbs are excellent brain food and will help keep your energy levels high throughout the day. Win, win, win.
This superfood is packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals, and will keep you in top-notch shape. It’s usually added in juices, the taste might be disgusting for some – I like adding a teaspoon of it into my meals (salads, pasta sauces etc…) you can barely taste it.
If you’re still not fully convinced, there are supplements you can take which have spirulina in them. Even if you’re not doing the Veganuary Challenge, I highly recommend introducing this blue-green algae to your diet.
4. Don’t Assume Just Because It’s Vegan It’s Healthy.
You can eat nachos with salsa, Oreos, and fries everyday and still be vegan. Is it healthy? No.
Although implementing these treats into your diet is completely okay and sometimes needed, it’s crucial to make vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins (beans, tofu, nuts etc..) the stars of most of your meals. This will prevent you from becoming nutrient-deficient.
5. Tackling Restaurants With No Vegan Options
Not being able to eat out at any given restaurant is arguably the hardest part of being vegan.
Luckily many restaurants in Malta have introduced vegan options, here are there. However, if you do end up going to a restaurant with no vegan options, ask the waiters or chef if there’s anything with no eggs, milk or butter – usually fries, focaccia, bruschetta, and pizzas (with no cheese) are vegan.
6. You Don’t Have To Answer Questions
As a vegan of five years I’ve been at the end of hundreds and hundreds of questions – positive and negative. Like, it’s 8am and I just woke up, sometimes I don’t feel like justifying why I’m having oat milk with my cereal and not cow milk.
Many vegans tend to fight for their lives trying to defend their food choices but you don’t have to. You have a right to enjoy your meal without everyone else questioning it, just like meat-eaters have the right to enjoy theirs.
7. There’s No Pressure
If you accidentally eat some dip with milk in it, or want to enjoy a slice of non-vegan pizza with your friends on a random Friday night – it’s okay.
It will not erase the countless other times you’ve stuck to the lifestyle/diet. I, for example, still consume honey, which is a grave sin for many vegans around the world, but it’s my choice to make. Eating is very personal, and your food journey is your own.
My main reason for going vegan is for ethical reasons – factory farming is incredibly inhumane.
I’m not against killing animals for food, but the way it’s done in modern society is totally heartless.
Factory farming is a form of intensive agriculture and done to cater to the masses.
A product labelled ‘’grass-fed’’ or “cage-free’’ means nothing – many of these terms have no legal definition, and so a farmer could for example put hundreds of chickens in very poor conditions in a small barn but not in a battery cage and label the eggs “cage-free”.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be vegetarian,’’ former Beatles band-member Paul McCartney once said.
Going vegan even for a month means that there will be a bigger demand for vegan food, and a slight decrease in demand for animal products – it’s all about supply and demand.
However, turning vegan has also positively affected my health: I lost 13 kilograms, and my skin is so much clearer.
Environmental and Ethical documentaries to watch:
Health documentaries to watch:
- What the health
- Game changers
- Forks over Knives
There is plenty of information and recipes to look at online to help you throughout the month of January. You don’t have to go fully plant-based, maybe do one day a week, or a few meals a week – any small thing makes a whole lot of difference.
Keep the conversation open – and do your own research. Sometimes just having a genuine discussion with someone about it is also more than enough.
Would you take on the Veganuary challenge?