Veganism and vegan recipes are on the rise and have gained popularity in recent years. Even if you’re not vegan, most people do agree that cutting down meat consumption and eating more vegetables is not only healthy but also good for the planet. If you’ve been considering going vegan – even in the short term – the popular January challenge called “Veganuary” might be for you. Find out all about Veganuary, what it is, how it began, and where you can find the best plant-based meals and recipes.
What is Veganuary and how did it begin?
The term was a marketing term established in 2014 when the UK-based nonprofit, Veganuary, launched a thirty-day challenge where people could sign up for the mission only to consume plant-based foods in the month of January.
It’s okay if you’re a little late to the party. You can still sign up for half of January and even go into February if you’re up for it.
During their 2022 campaign, the Veganuary website said that they “supported over 620,000 people to try vegan” in over 220 countries and territories. They also work with restaurants and shops to ensure that more people have access to vegan food options, especially tasty options that people may love more than their non-plant-based counterparts.
Participation seems to go up each year and 2019 seemed to be one of the biggest years to date with 1.3 million people committing.
The Vegan Society supports Veganuary 2023, noting that last year over 800 new vegan products were launched. The PETA UK website also has lots of tips on how to succeed with Veganuary. It’s never been a better time to be vegan!
How do I start going plant-based or incorporating more plant-based foods into my diet?
Your idea of a favourite Sunday meal might be a roast with Yorkshire puds or you may love to order seafood or a steak at a restaurant and you may not be able to fathom how you can go thirty whole days without eggs, dairy, or your favourite carnivorous treat. Here are some pointers on how to enjoy Veganuary and how you can benefit long term.
Veganism is said to provide a diet rich in nutrients, reduce risk factors for diseases and disorders such as cancer and diabetes, boost your mind, help keep your waistline healthy, reduce arthritis, make your skin look healthy, and so much more – plus it saves animals, farmland, and the planet overall.
Becoming vegan for a month doesn’t simply mean eating what you’d eat as a meat-eater or vegetarian minus the cheese and meat. No one can stick to that if you’re just eating a jacket potato with a side of broccoli (minus your usual lamb chop)! You can find vegan versions of almost all of your favourite foods such as pizzas, hot dogs, sandwiches, tacos, pasta dishes, soups, burgers, and so forth – or you can find many, many tasty vegan recipes that are not meat-meal dupes. In fact, trying new recipes might be the best way to go as many vegan alternatives are tasty but they aren’t going to be exactly the same. And you’ll learn heaps about nutrition and acquire more culinary experience along the way.
You’ll often find that many restaurants have lots of vegan options and your local supermarket may even have a vegan aisle. But, at the end of the day, something simple such as vegetables, legumes (lentils, chickpeas), beans, rice, potatoes, and items like tofu and pea proteins can be turned into delicious, inexpensive meals. You can even pack in healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and/or avocado for more satiation.
For example, you can make your usual spag bol sauce and add lentils, veggie mince, and/or mushrooms instead of mince. Try sprinkling some vegan parmesan on top or nutritional yeast for added flavour. Another easy vegan swap is that any curry sauce or curry you make from scratch can have tofu and extra veg substituted and taste just as good. Or there are simple, quick recipes available online such as this vegan sweet potato curry or a creamy vegan pasta packed with veggies. Nowadays, there are also vegan jars of classic curry sauces available from popular brands like Sharwoods, Pataks, Geeta’s and Biona. You’ll soon realise that you don’t miss the meat when you feel full and satiated, and your body overall feels better.
Can I get all my nutritional needs from a vegan diet?
For full-time vegans, you can get almost all of your nutritional needs met by a vegan diet if you’re careful and eat a range of healthful foods but the biggest concern is often getting enough vitamin B12
Some vegans also don’t get enough vitamin D, calcium, or iodine but you can supplement your diet to ensure you meet all your body’s nutritional needs.
We have advice in our piece on health boosters all about how to meet your nutritional needs on a vegan and vegetarian diet here. For vitamin B12 and vitamin D, you can eat fortified foods or take an additional supplement. For iron, you can eat beans, lentils, nuts, and green veggies combined with vitamin C for the best absorption. For calcium, there are often fortified dairy alternatives as well as kale, watercress, dried fruit, and calcium-set tofu. You can get your iodine needs from whole grains and fortified plant milk. Even mentioning some of the common nutritional gaps may have you thinking eating vegan is complicated and that you’ll have to chomp on all sorts of different supplements and types of foods to get everything you need. That’s not true! A simple meal made with greens, lentils, nuts, and grains can provide most of your nutritional needs and start your day with a fortified cereal or oats and fortified plant milk and voila! You’ve hit all those important often-missing nutrients.
We also have another blog about the rise of veganism and how to get all your nutrients which also explains how you can combine pulses and grains to create complete proteins, which is another important lesson for successful veganism.
Vegan diets should be seen as diets of abundance. There are so many exciting ways to eat and prepare vegetable-based and fungi-based foods. It’s an opportunity to experiment, try new sauces, try lots of new flavours and textures, and really fall in love with simple, cost-effective vegetables.
For vegan salads, many people often feel that chopping the veg small and adding a tahini-based salad dressing with some vinegar or lemon juice can make a tasty, nutritious, and filling meal, especially if you add in beans and quinoa. But veganism isn’t all about salad. There are so many tasty hot meals, soups, nut loaves, roasted, sauteed, and chargrilled vegetables, and more to enjoy. Challenge yourself to try a new vegetable each week and your four-week challenge will fly by.
Is veganism really expensive?
With the cost of living crisis, it’s reported that supermarket increases and inflation is adding over £600 to each Brtion’s grocery bill each year. Food has gone up over 6% and meat and milk have been the worst impacted. Lamb has gone up by over 14%, milk by over 13%, and butter by over 11%. Beef has gone up almost 10%, poultry over 10%, and pork almost 5%. As you can see, buying meat and dairy in this economic climate is more expensive than plant-based food.
There’s a misconception that vegan diets are more expensive than meat-based ones, but that’s untrue. Sure, if you eat lots of ready-made vegan meals that can be the case, but that’s the same if you eat many ready-made meat meals. Studies show that vegan diets are actually 33% cheaper than meat-based diets. Even if you reduce your meat consumption post-Veganuary, that will equate to huge savings.
If you find that fresh fruits and veggies are too expensive (few traditional fruit and veg markets exist nowadays), try looking in the freezer section. Frozen veggies are actually fresher than fresh veggies and fruits as they are frozen right after they are washed, newly picked from the fields.
There are many vegetables such as green beans, edamame, spinach, kale, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, courgette, onions, corn, butternut squash, pumpkin, and so forth that taste just as good frozen, especially if you’re adding them to soups, sauces, and other hot meals. Frozen fruits such as berries, pineapple, plums, peaches, grapes, and more freeze well and taste yummy.
Plus, there are plenty of cheap fresh fruit options such as apples, bananas, and pears as well as fresh veg options like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and root veggies.
If tinned beans and legumes are too expensive, try dried versions and soak them yourself. If you find that nuts are too expensive, you can bulk out your nut loaves with extra beans and breadcrumbs to make your more expensive ingredients stretch further.
But, as stated, we bet you’ll find that shopping for plant-based alternatives is much cheaper, more nutritionally dense, and easier to prep than your usual meat-and-dairy-based meals.
Where can I find plant-based meals at my favourite restaurants?
Thirty or forty years ago, it was really difficult to find a vegan meal at a restaurant but there’s no excuse now. Hundreds of UK restaurants have tasty vegan options. Here are just a few places.
- Itsu: you can have vegan sushi, veggie meatless meatballs teriyaki rice bowl, vegetable fusion gyoza, and other plant-based options.
- Wagamama: there are options such as yasai pad thai, no duck donburi, vegatsu, bang bang cauliflower, vegan chilli “squid”, banana katsu, miso caramel ice cream, and other vegan options.
- Wasabi: vegan sushi, vegan bento, vegan soup, vegan “xalmon”, vegan chi’king katsu curry, mochi, and more.
- Yo! Sushi: PETA Vegan Food Award winner two years in a row. You can try pumpkin katsu curry, inari taco, vegetable gyoza, vegan sushi, egg-free mayo, avocado maki, and more.
- Benugo: lots of vegan treats here including the raspberry and coconut chia pudding, vegan Reuben bloomer, vegan cookies, and more.
- Caffè Nero: options include a vegan meatball panini, THIS plant-based “chicken” arrabbiata panini, THIS plant-based “sausage” ciabatta, vegan snacks and sweet treats like a vegan salted caramel and chocolate vegan cheesecake.
- Costa Coffee: you can enjoy a vegan smoky ham and cheeze toastie, vegan macaroni cheeze, vegan rocky road, a BOSH! chocolate and pecan slice, vegan Lotus Biscoff cheesecake, and more.
- Greggs: Who doesn’t love the famous vegan sausage roll, vegan sausage breakfast roll, the vegan ham and cheeze baguette, southern-fried potato wedges, vegan doughnuts, and more?
- Leon: Offers things like the PETA vegan food award-winning LOVe burger, aioli mac and cheeze bites, and egg and dairy-free treats.
- Starbucks: All drinks can be made with plant-based milks and there are vegan food options like the Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich, the fish-free Tu’NAH sandwich, and vegan dessert options.
- Subway: There are many vegan options such as the meatless meatball marinara, the TLC (tastes like chicken) tikka, and the plant patty. There are vegan cheeses, vegan sauces, and vegan breads so you can mix and match however you like. There are also vegan cookies.
- West Cornwall Pasty Co: if you love a pasty, there are vegan options here now too.
- Burger King: vegan nuggets, fries, vegan royale (with crispy vegan chicken in a toasted sesame seed bun), plant-based whopper, and other options – but none of this is certified vegan as it’s all cooked on a grill used also for meat – but it is all technically plant-based.
- Domino’s: there’s a special vegan menu which includes toppings such as peperoNAY and chick-ain’t, veggies, and sides like vegan burgers and garlic and herb dip.
- Frankie & Benny’s: there’s a large vegan range including BBQ jackfruit wingz, vegan hot dogs, pizzas, pastas, burgers, desserts, like creamy vegan chocolate fudge cake and a vegan Speculoos hot cookie dough, and more.
- Fridays: vegan chicken is on the menu and has been subbed into classic dishes like tacos, fajitas, meatless Fridays sesame strips (glaze made from Jack Daniels), vegan chocolate chip lava cookies, and other options.
- KFC: surprisingly for a chicken restaurant, you can find an original recipe vegan burger (made of Quorn) and accompany it with BBQ beans, a corn cob, and fries.
- McDonald’s: Try the McPlant burger, made with a Beyond Meat patty, plus fries. There’s also a vegetable deluxe, veggie dippers, veggie wrap, hash browns, pineapple, and carrots. With over 1,300 restaurants in the UK, if you’re in a pinch during Veganuary, Mickey D’s is a go-to.
- Nando’s: Nando’s is another chain that’s all over the UK and you can enjoy the Great Imitator Burger, PERI-salted chips, garlic bread, sweet potato wedges, humous, mixed olives, a rainbow bowl, a spiced chickpea burger, spicy rice, rainbow salad, long stem broccoli, and mango gelato. There’s an endless variety to try these menu options over and over.
- Pizza Hut: There are meat-free pepperoni options and vegan cheese options as well as southern fried nuggets and raspberry ice.
- Papa John’s: you might not find this American chain in too many places in the UK but it was the first national delivery chain to have vegan pizza in the UK. They have options like vegan sausage and “pepperoni”, vegan cauliflower wings, vegan cheese, marmite scrolls, and vegan ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s coconututerly caramel’d and cinnamon scrolls with vanilla icing.
- All Bar One: on the menu is a vegan Beyond Meat burger with non-dairy cheese and all the trimmings. You can also try vegan nachos, a smoky jackfruit wrap, and a caramel biscuit torte.
- Beefeater: vegan options include a sloppy joe burger, BBQ cauliflower popcorn, chips, and a plant-based “chicken” breast with all the trimmings to recreate your fave Sunday roast. You can also enjoy a vegan peanut butter banana sundae or a chocolate layer torte.
- Brewers Fayre: for vegan options try a vegan sensational burger, a lentil hotpot with soya, or chipotle chilli. For dessert, there’s a black forest sundae.
- Harvester: options such as vegan nachos, unlimited salad bar, chilli non carne, the purest burger, or a vegan fry up and finish with a vegan sundae.
- Marston’s: this restaurant won a PETA Vegan Food Award for its vegan menu back in 2018, so there are many options to enjoy. You can try fishless fish and chips, buffalo cauliflower wings, nachos, plant burgers with chips and onion rings, and desserts like a praline chocolate tart or a classic apple pie with vegan ice cream.
- Slug & Lettuce: If you’re doing Veganuary with friends or family, this restaurant offers a vegan feast with friends sharing platter, which features BBQ soya tacos, baked falafel bites, pulled jackfruit sliders, and other delish treats. There are also meatless delights from a Moving Mountains burger and a butternut squash tagine.
- Toby Carvery: If your family or friends like carvery and you’re along for the ride this January, you can try Toby Carvery’s vegan allotment pie, roast mushroom and ale pie, vegan sausage roll, or a vegan roast plus all the vegan trimmings. There’s apple pie or crumble for dessert topped with soya custard.
- Wetherspoon: Another chain that you can find on almost every high street, you can find an extensive vegan menu with curries, burgers, Quorn nuggets, paninis, pizzas, a vegan fry-up breakfast, and lots of vegan sides. The bonus is that all Wetherspoons are cheap and cheerful.
- Bella Italia: you don’t have to miss out on Italian with options such as vegan cheese pizza, vegan pasta, and vegan risotto. There’s chick’n orzotto, hot choggolate pudding, and vanilla vegan ice cream.
- Chiquito: the UK’s largest Mexican restaurant chain offers vegan options such as a vegan breakfast, vegan nachos, croquettes, and a vegan burger made from banana blossoms. There are also Baja jackfruit tacos, a vegarrito with vegan meat, and churros with chocolate sauce.
- Las Iguanas: they have vegan substitutions for many popular menu items and can make non-vegan menu items vegan but they have Bahian jackfruit curry, fiesta ensalada, nachos with vegan cheese, and a chocolate coconut tart available on the menu.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. These are just some of the many high-street chains and restaurants that cater to vegans. You may find many of your local Indian and Thai restaurants also have vegan options and there are often many speciality vegan options available if you just do a quick Google search.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of popular restaurants and local restaurants that have vegan options so even if your family and friends aren’t on the Veganuary bandwagon with you, you can still go out for a meal with loved ones and find something vegan and enjoyable. Who knows? You may even convince them to try a bite and fall in love with the delicious plant-based foods available themselves. They may be surprised at how yummy vegan food can taste.
There are also many vegan-only eateries up and down the country such as the following:
- The Queen Inn, Cwmbran: https://www.facebook.com/thequeeninncwmbran
- Wild Pear Kitchen: https://www.wildpearkitchen.com/
- The Green Kitchen: https://www.tgkthegreenkitchen.co.uk/
- Rooted Cafe: https://www.facebook.com/rootedcafebath/
- Karibu: https://www.karibu23.co.uk/menu/
- Greens Vegetarian Restaurant: https://greensrestaurants.co.uk/didsbury/
- Corarima: https://www.corarima.co.uk/
Where can I find plant-based recipes?
There are many sources of amazing vegan recipes around the internet. You can follow vegan Instagrammers and YouTubers who often post simple recipes, or buy a vegan recipe book on your Kindle or in print. Online websites, including the BBC Good Food recipes, have plenty of free vegan recipe options too.
- Bosh! is a vegan YouTube channel created by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby – they also have recipe books.
- BBC Good Food has over 130 vegan recipes to choose from.
- Jamie Oliver has over 160 vegan recipes on his website.
- The Food Show is a vegan YouTube channel created by chef Gaz Oakley, including many low-cost recipes.
Since our lovely Marketing Manager, Emma, is vegan, we have written many helpful blogs on how to become vegan, how to enjoy the odd vegan meal, and how to get all of your nutritional needs from being vegan (or vegetarian). Take a look at some of our past blogs.
- Veganuary: a passing trend or here to stay? (Delicious stuffed taco recipe included): last year’s comprehensive blog about Veganuary and an easy recipe to get you started.
- Baffled by health boosters: read on: discover ways you can get all of your vitamin and nutrient needs from a vegan diet.
- 5 vegan protein powders for a healthy lifestyle: another blog about how to be vegan and meet your nutritional needs, including vegan-friendly protein powders and supplements.
- Warm up with our vegan soup recipes, plus trending vegan influencers: ideas for noteworthy vegan influencers to follow for tips, tricks, and inspiration as well as healthy, nutritional vegan soup recipes that can be made in big batches for easy go-to busy weeknight meals.
- How to keep your new year’s resolutions for good: a blog about the psychology of keeping New Year’s resolutions and building healthy habits for the future.
Keep reading the blog to find more inspirational beauty content as well as vegan recipes and advice. Let us know on Tria Beauty UK’s Facebook or Instagram if you’re joining the Veganuary challenge this year in 2023.