Yes, your most annoying Facebook friend keeps harping on about it – no, they aren't lying. Veganuary really can prove hugely rewarding. Here are some expert-approved tips to keep in mind when transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Words by Chantel Pereira
The first month of the new year is here, and you know what that means: countless smug social media posts from old school friends doing Veganuary. But making the switch to a more sustainable diet needn’t be the restrictive minefield it’s so often made out to be.
If you’re keen to accommodate more plant-based eating and organic nutrition within your diet, be prepared to reap the countless health benefits that come with the lifestyle. Not to mention that eating sustainably does wonders for the environment, too – as it reduces food waste, the amount of plastic that ends up being dumped in rivers and other (completely avoidable) environmental calamities.
If you’re not sure quite where to begin when it comes to sustainable eating, then never fear, as Joanna Saad, Head of Nutrition at Jimmy Joy, a plant-based meal provider, is here to provide a few simple steps that’ll help you achieve nutritional fulfilment when eating clean.
Whether you’re just going plant-based for January, or you’re looking for a longer-term solution to help the planet, here are Joanna’s expert tips on trying your hand (and stomach) at a more sustainable diet.
How to Veganuary your way to a more sustainable diet
1. Start with small changes
Transitioning into a more sustainable diet can be intense for the regular meat-eater, so start by trying one plant-based meal a day instead of making unrealistic changes, drastically. This will help you stick to the diet as slower transitions with smaller changes will be better for your body and make it easier for you to become more accustomed rather than making larger, quick changes.
For example, you could still eat most cereals for a plant-based breakfast, you would just need to change your diet with non-dairy milk.
2. Change your mindset
Instead of beginning your transition into a more sustainable diet with an ‘I can’t eat approach’, focus on the positive aspects of the change you’re taking on.
For example, think of how beneficial the wonderful things that you’re eating are for your health and the planet. Educating yourself around the topic of plant-based foods is important as you would be surprised at how many alternative, yet delicious options are out there. Equipping yourself with this knowledge will benefit you in the long-term, especially when sticking to the diet.
3. Plan your meals
Maintaining an organised approach to your diet can be another way to help your transition. For example, meal planning can help you exercise control over your diet. If you prepare for your weekly meals in advance, you can plan your shopping accordingly, and are more likely to stick to your sustainable diet rather than succumbing to the temptation of breaking it.
4. Swap dairy milk for almond or oat milk
Swapping your usual dairy milk for a healthier, eco-friendlier alternative is an easy first step to take, when transitioning. You could opt for almond milk, which is rich in healthy nutrients, coconut milk which is fantastic when it comes to cooking, or many other options such as oat milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk and soymilk.
5. Swap meat for a plant-based option
This might sound like a daunting task but once you adapt to plant-based meats, you may never want to go back. Tofu and tempeh work wonderfully in salads and if you’re craving pulled pork, marinated jackfruit makes an excellent alternative.