Updated: Jan 18
I see you there, you steak-loving carnivores, you thought Veganuary would be a good idea didn’t you?
Maybe it was a challenge, maybe it’s for charity, maybe you fancied a change. But now, just over a week in, you are frankly sick of the sight of baked beans and pasta with tomato sauce aren’t you? Well fear not. For I am the Suffering Carnivore and I am here to help.
You see, your month-long odyssey is pretty much my day-to-day. I am a meat-eater. I love a good roast, or a chunk of chicken, and the smell of bacon is my favourite way to kick off a day. Well, second favourite, after coffee. But my beloved better half is vegan, so since moving in with her I have essentially become vegan too.
Luckily for you, that means I am here to help you navigate the next few weeks in the desert of vegetables before you plunge head first into a juicy rump steak as soon as midnight hits on February
I’ve got a few recipes coming your way and I’ll run down the foods you want to get to grips with, but first, here is a simple guide to surviving Veganuary
1. Enjoy the benefits
This may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me, there will be a load of benefits. You will lose weight this month – and not because you are not having enough food. It is actually pretty easy to get enough food on a vegan diet, but the lack of meat means you will slim down and feel healthier and more lithe by the end of the month.
2. Try something new
Do not make the mistake of just eating what you would normally eat but leaving out the meat. You have to get to grips with new foods my friend. Quinoa, black beans, chickpeas and tofu are all going to be key. Oat milk is better than soya every day.
3. Think about flavour
Tofu is dull. Quinoa tastes of less than nothing. So why on earth am I listing them on things to try? Because you have to put some effort into your cooking now pal. A chunk of meat is not going to spread flavour-filled juices all over your plate, so you have to do the work.
Pro tip: Get some soy sauce and some apple cider vinegar in your cupboard. Put them in the water with the quinoa or on the tofu as you fry it and they will pop with flavour. Experiment too.
4. Plan ahead
If going on holiday with a vegan has taught me anything it is that you cannot wing this. You can’t pop into a shop and grab a snack which will carry you over a missed meal. You need to plan out your food an either prepare it or know where you are heading to grab it. A box of salad will not carry you through a day. You’re a person, not a rabbit.
Pro Tip: M&S’s Plant Kitchen range is an easy grab and go option to keep you going.
5. Know your basics
Get a few meals in the bag which are easy to make and you don’t mind coming back to with some regularity. S and I use a stir fry (Pro tip: Some packet sauces are vegan and you can make your own with soy sauce and Chinese 5 spice) and Pasta with broccoli, mushroom and avocado as easy go-to foods.
6. Keep your protein up
There is a reason that pandas spend all day eating; they are big animals and they don’t eat meat, so they need lots of food to give them the energy they require. That goes for you too my chicken-loving friend. If you have suddenly cut out meat, dairy and eggs in one fell swoop then you have slashed your protein intake. So fill the gap; tofu, lentils, beans, quinoa and oats are all good.
7. Little and often
Like the panda, you are going to need more food than normal. Each dish carries less energy than your former meat diet, so plan for two small lunches and keep some snacks about you. If you get hungry and tired you are more likely to give up.
8. Up your snacking game
Vegans can manage on a vegan diet. But you are just playing at being vegan – or starting out on the journey. Either way, you need to supplement your diet. Snack bars with oats and nuts are good and there are loads of vegan chocolate and biscuit recipes if you are feeling adventurous. You might find something you like.
Pro tip: Don’t turn your nose up at chocolate and date snack bar recipes until you have tried them. They are awesome.
9. Ride the bandwagon
You are doing this for a month, but you know what is good? So are loads of other people. All the fast food chains are going big with their new vegan fare: KFC, Greggs and Burger King are all on the bandwagon so try them out. You won’t give those products a second thought come February.
Ok? You’ll be fine. Let me know how you are getting on and I’ll be back with more tips as the month goes on.
Shout out for the awesome photos to those folks at Pixabay.