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From signing up to tips that can help you stay on the wagon, we're breaking down the movement that has nearly 250,000 going vegan for the first month of the year.  

Lauren Wicks
January 04, 2019
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It seems like plant-based foods are everywhere these days—from fast-food menus to celebrity Instagram posts—and for good reason. Both health professionals and the patients they treat maintain a growing concern over America’s obesity epidemic, the state of the environment, as well as the treatment of animals, leading to peaked interest in plant-based diets. While only six percent of Americans consider themselves to be vegans, millions more are pushing more plant-based products into grocery stores by sheer demand and are actively reducing their meat and dairy intake.

“Veganuary” is a project designed to help make going vegan more attainable, by serving up plenty of resources to set participants up for success. The program packs in advice and guidance into a short-term timeline—the month of January—in order to help home cooks discover that going plant-based isn't as difficult as you may think.

The UK-based organization has been encouraging hundreds of thousands of people around the world to go vegan for the month of January over the last five years: but they're seeing their highest numbers yet for 2019. Over 250,000 people have signed up for this month so far, and the numbers are still growing.

What Is the "Veganuary" Program?

By going online and participating in a sign up process for “Veganuary”, you are simply pledging to abstain from animal products for the the entire month of January.

Registering your email allows you to receive an e-book of delicious vegan celebrity recipes, featuring recipes from a few familiar names (from Beyonce’s guacamole to Madonna’s sticky toffee pudding), as well as daily support emails with step-by-step guides and seven-day meal plans based on your caloric needs.

You are also given the option to join “Veganuary” online communities for support and encouragement that help participants continue their plant-based journey, even after February rolls around.

Greg DuPree

In need of vegan recipe inspiration?

Why Should I Sign Up for "Veganuary"?

For starters, the vegan diet was recently ranked one of the best diets for weight-loss by nutrition experts, and it is a safe way to kick off any health-related new year’s resolutions for weight loss.

Besides impacting your individual health, going vegan can impact the health and well-being of others, livestock, and our planet. According to PETA, going vegan for one month can spare resources of upwards of 100 animals, 33,000 gallons of water, and 900 square feet of forest.

Choosing to follow a vegan lifestyle could also help reduce the use of grains, which in turn can be used for other purposes outside of feeding livestock, including food insecurity.

What do I eat on a vegan diet?

A vegan lifestyle isn't too much different from some of the most popular diets currently—like the Mediterranean diet, which principles could be applied to your own eating habits. Focus on fresh produce, whole grains, plant-based proteins and meat alternatives, and healthy fats, while eliminating the daily to weekly dairy servings and eliminating fish, eggs, and other meats.

Caitlin Bensel

You can also draw serious inspiration from international cuisines: diets in other countries, from Mexico to Morocco, emphasize more plant-based food consumption than the standard American diet, and they can serve as inspiration for flavorful and satisfying meals.

Going vegan doesn't mean you'll have to sacrifice your favorite meals, which is a point that the "Veganuary" program stresses—from stir-frys to burritos to pizza, vegan alternatives exist and can be made easily in your kitchen.

What should I expect when starting a 30-day vegan diet?

When you first sign up for "Veganuary," the program makes it quite clear that there's a few changes you'll need to get accustomed to.

If your current diet doesn’t involve many plant-based foods, things will feel like they're getting worse in your digestive tract before they get better. You might experience gas, bloating, and frequent bathroom trips due to the major increase in fiber intake you are likely experiencing. Take comfort in knowing that plant-based diets are a big win for your gut health overall.

Some dieters may experience brief vitamin and mineral imbalances, which can be corrected with the help of your healthcare provider in the long term. You'll also need to prepare yourself for hardcore cravings at first, which many converts will tell you eventually (and thankfully!) fades away.

But most importantly, "Veganuary" isn't an excuse to down Impossible Burgers and pints of Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream in the name of “health." Feasting on vegan “junk food” all month can still lead to weight gain, which is why these vegan products should be considered more of a treat alongside products we normally consider "junk food."

Ready to get healthy? Start here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

What Are the Benefits of a Vegan Diet?

The first change in your routine you may notice is actually a change in what you're craving: Research shows you might even grow more sensitive to richer foods when eliminating them from your diet for three weeks, which will help you sustain a balanced diet post-”Veganuary.”

Now let’s get to the positive things you can expect when going vegan. Weight loss often starts almost overnight, and almost 90 percent of those who attempt a vegan diet do lose at least a few pounds, according to How to Go Vegan, a guide written and published by the Veganuary team. You could also develop more energy, enjoy a better complexion as well as stronger hair and nails, and even develop (or deepen!) a love for cooking.

Caitlin Bensel

The movement has a webpage dedicated to debunking dozens of vegan myths as well as their Vegan Starter Kit page, which has a list of resources where you can find researched answers to these questions yourself. There's many reasons why a vegan diet could be a good choice for you—whether for a month, or a lifetime.

If you need a delicious push to get started, we've got an idea for your very first meal: Whole Foods Market is offering their “viral” T.T.L.A. (tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, avocado) sandwich in all locations this month. And we're walking you through the rest, with delicious vegan recipes for every meal and those that can help you lose weight thanks to a 300-calorie make up.