Over 582,000 people officially signed up to complete Veganuary last year and this year is set to be even bigger. Despite there being many more plant-based alternatives and recipes available now, it isn't as easy as it sounds. Especially if you are used to having meat and dairy with almost every meal.
If the no-meat part doesn't phase you, coming up with new and versatile recipes might – and no one wants to fall at the first hurdle. Fortunately, you can find inspiration and increase your knowledge on plant-based nutrition using one of the best vegan cookbooks out there.
If you are still on the fence on whether or not you should give Veganuary a go, there is lots of research out there linking the vegan diet to various health benefits such as aiding weight loss and lowering cholesterol. This study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (opens in new tab) found that following a vegan diet can encourage weight loss by increasing your fiber intake, while reducing your consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Half of the 291 participants for this study followed a low-fat vegan diet. Meanwhile, the other half followed a control diet. The results revealed that participants who subscribed to the vegan diet had lost an average of 9.5 pounds (4.3kg), compared with 0.2 pounds (0.1kg) in the control group. Additionally, cholesterol levels improved for the vegan group while the control group experienced little to no change.
Before you start forming a grocery list or carving out your meal plans for the rest of Veganuary keep reading to find out three important tips from a qualified nutritionist, Kim Pearson (opens in new tab).
Three top tips for Veganuary from an expert nutritionist
- Eat meals based on wholefoods : Unfortunately, not all vegan food is good for you. For example, if you substitute all your meat with fake meats you should know that a lot of these are heavily processed foods, meaning high levels of saturated fats are entering your body.
Kim suggests instead opting to cook with more whole foods (such as fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts, and nut butters) to avoid consuming artificial additives.
- Eat balanced meals : it can be easy to just eat lots of pasta or noodles for every meal when you are trying out veganism, but Kim explains that it is important to ensure your meals are well balanced.
Just because you can't get protein from meat and eggs doesn't mean you can't source it from other foods that are vegan such as chickpeas, lentils, tofu or even a good quality vegan protein powder (find one in our roundup of the best protein powders for weight loss). You can get your fat intake from things like avocado or coconut oil and fiber is found in most fruit and vegetables and in wholegrains.
- Watch out for nutrients that could be lacking : it's possible to get the nutrients your body needs following a vegan diet but there are precautions you can take to avoid potential deficiencies. The following vitamins can be slightly harder to get in a plant-based diet: omega-3, vitamin D, and B12.
These are all essential for the function of your body and overall health, but can be sourced from daily tablets like the best fish oil supplements or the best vitamins for women over 50. Kim advises functional testing and consuming vitamins based on what your personal diet is lacking.
Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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