You may have tried "dry January," but have you tried "Veganuary?"

Lainey Younkin, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
December 31, 2019

Every January people come up with New Year's resolutions. Maybe in past years you've vowed to exercise more, lose weight or do Dry January, where you give up drinking for the month of January. But have you ever tried Veganuary? Here's an explainer on what Veganuary is all about and how to get started following this month-long diet challenge.

Related: 5 Health Resolutions Dietitians Won't Make—Plus 7 They Will

What Is Veganuary?

If you're bored of your same old resolutions to lose weight and get to the gym, you can switch things up and try Veganuary this year. Veganuary is a movement to eat a vegan diet for the month of January. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Some vegans also don't eat honey, while others eliminate foods such as table sugar, which is often processed in bone char.

Motivations for going vegan range from health to protecting animals and the environment. According to Veganuary.com, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit that inspires people to try vegan for the month of January, 46% of people try Veganuary for health reasons, 34% for animals, 12% for environmental reasons and 8% for other reasons.

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry

Some people are vegan year-round, of course. But following a vegan diet requires planning and it can at times be difficult to find vegan options at restaurants or social gatherings.

Enter Veganuary: trying a vegan diet for one month. Whether your goal is to get more vegetables into your diet or to help take care of the planet (raising livestock takes a bigger toll on the environment than growing plants), we show you how to eat vegan, including what to buy at the store and some tasty recipes to get you started.

Related: A Month of Vegan Dinner Ideas

How to Start Eating Vegan

The "Healthy Plate" visual is a good guide as you build your lunches and dinners: make half your plate vegetables, a fourth of your plate whole grains and a fourth of your plate protein. At breakfast aim for fiber, protein and healthy fat like oatmeal with peanut butter and berries.

All fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains are vegan. It can be hard to get enough protein on a vegan diet since meat, cheese, eggs and yogurt are off-limits. But it's completely doable. Stock up on whole grains like quinoa, barley, farro, wheat berries and bulgur, which not only contain a lot of fiber but also more protein than brown rice. Whole-wheat pasta also has protein, but try chickpea, lentil and black bean pastas for almost twice the protein of regular pasta.

Canned beans, including black beanschickpeaswhite beans and kidney beans, are also an easy protein source. Other vegan proteins include edamame (soybeans), tofu (made from soy), tempeh (made from fermented soybeans), seitan (wheat gluten), nuts and seeds and nut and seed butters.

If it's tough to get enough protein, consider buying a vegan protein powder to mix into oatmeal or smoothies. Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds pack protein too, while also delivering healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Related: 9 Healthy Tips to Help You Start Eating a Vegan Diet

Vegan Grocery List

Pictured recipe: Citrus Lime Tofu Salad

Here are some vegan staples to put on your shopping list for this Veganuary.

Produce

Any fruits or vegetables

Whole Grains

Quinoa

Barley

Farro

Wheat berries

Bulgur

Oats

Whole-wheat bread

Whole-wheat tortillas

Pasta: whole-wheat or bean-based pastas like Banza, Tolerant, Explore Cuisine or Pow

Protein

Edamame

Tofu

Tempeh

Seitan

Nuts

Seeds

Peanut, almond or cashew butter

Sunflower seed butter

Hummus

Sauces

Olive oil

Avocado oil

Vinegars: balsamic, apple-cider vinegar, white-wine, red-wine

Mustard

Hot sauce

Tahini

Maple syrup

Related: Vegan Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

Vegan Food Swaps

Replace some of these common animal products with vegan foods this Veganuary and beyond.

Instead of butter, use:

  • Olive oil or avocado oil (for cooking)
  • Buttery spread made from oil (for toast or baking)
  • Coconut oil

Instead of eggs, use:

  • Flax egg (made from flaxseed and water)
  • Applesauce
  • Aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas; best used in recipes where eggs need to be whipped or in place of egg white in cocktails)
  • Tofu (in place of scrambled eggs)

Instead of cheese, use:

  • Nutritional yeast (commonly sprinkled on popcorn)
  • Cashews

Instead of milk, use:

  • Plant-based milks such as oat, almond, cashew, coconut or soy

Vegan Recipes to Get Started

Pictured recipe: Vegan Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Try out some of these healthy vegan recipes during Veganuary for breakfast through dinner.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes

Pear-Spiced Oatmeal

Tropical Overnight Oats

Vegan Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Avocado Pancakes

Strawberry-Blueberry-Banana Smoothie

See More: Vegan Breakfast Recipes

Vegan Lunch Recipes

Teriyaki Tofu Rice Bowls

Lemon-Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas

Beefless Vegan Tacos

See More: Vegan Lunch Recipes

Vegan Dinner Recipes

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Edamame Lettuce Wrap Burgers with Peanut Sauce

Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Stew

Vegan Jambalaya

See More: Vegan Dinner Recipes

Vegan Snack Recipes

Savory Date & Pistachio Bites

Everything Bagel Microwave Popcorn

Curried Chickpeas

Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

Hummus-Stuffed Mini Bells

See More: Vegan Snack Recipes

Bottom Line

Mix up your health resolutions this January by going vegan for the month. You're bound to eat more fruits and vegetables, which means more fiber to fill you up, stabilize your blood sugar and maintain or even lose weight. While you benefit your health, you'll simultaneously have a positive impact on the environment.

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