Doing Veganuary this month? You’re not alone: the campaign, which sees people going vegan for the whole of January, has seen a record sign-up rate in 2023, with more than 600,000 people globally expected to take on the challenge.
Indeed, the campaign has inspired a growing number of people to go fully plant-based in recent years, amid increasing environmental and ethical concerns around eating meat, fish and dairy. The meat and dairy industry alone is responsible for an estimated 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, a 2016 study found that food-related emissions could be slashed by up to 70 percent by 2050 if everyone across the globe went vegan.
Happily, a new wave of plant-based chefs and cooks are now leading the way when it comes to creating delicious vegan meals that are less harmful to the planet. See their top tips for this Veganuary below.
Rachel Ama, author of One Pot: Three Ways
“Veganise your favourite recipes! This helps you get creative and have fun with flavours you already love. For example, with your go-to curry, keep the same spices and base of onions, garlic, maybe ginger, but instead of adding meat, swap it for things like jackfruit, cauliflower, butterbeans or sweet potatoes. There are so many vegetables to pick from and you can even throw in a meat substitute.
“Cook in bulk to save time and take the stress off. There is nothing better than coming home from a long day of work knowing your dinner is already made—and all you have to do is heat it up and add some fresh vibrant sides to it.
“For your daily ‘essentials’ swap cows’ milk for a nut or oat milk. There are lots of vegan-friendly butters in the supermarket, or get a quality extra virgin olive oil. [Choose] agave or maple syrup instead of honey. Tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils and legumes are great sauces of protein. Swap a dairy yoghurt for soy, cashew, almond or, my favourite, coconut. There are lots of vegan-friendly protein powders available too.”
Alexis Gauthier, chef patron of Gauthier Soho
“I would begin by sticking to meals which are almost vegan anyway. Pasta with tomato and basil, ratatouille, dhal, Mexican bean chilli—things like that. We are lucky enough now to have thousands of products to choose from. I’d try Linda McCartney plant-based sausages or maybe a Beyond Burger as they have been really refined. Really, there has never been a better time to go vegan.”
Anna Jones, author of One: Pot, Pan, Planet
“Treat vegetables like meat: lots are much better when put on the grill, [with] a bit of char and smoke. Season properly—add salt in stages, and keep tasting as you go. Meanwhile, fresh herbs, such as chopped parsley or dill, can enhance plant-based dishes. Remember umami, too—the deep savouriness that you get from things like sundried tomatoes and miso.”
Sophie Gordon, author of The Whole Vegetable
“One-pot recipes are always easy to do and usually very nutrient rich. Have a look at what produce is at its best around this time of year: lots of root vegetables, dark leafy greens and citrus. Flick through your favourite cookbooks, or look on Instagram, you’ll find so many recipes out there. My go-tos are things like dhal and curries, stews or pastas. Hearty food for this time of the year and very easy to make. Don’t over-complicate things [at the start], but perhaps have a recipe in mind that might involve a bit more work and make it at the weekend.
“A few of my favourite ingredients to have are lentils and dried pulses, nuts, seeds and tahini, which will be your new best friend. Perfect for salad dressings and to add depth to stews, nutritional yeast is a great alternative to something cheesy and can be easily sourced these days.”
Tomi Makanjuola, author of Vegan Nigerian Kitchen
“If you’re going vegan this month, I encourage you to modify the foods you already know and love. There’s a vegan version of everything—from pizza to curries, cakes and soups. Eat what you enjoy and you’ll never be bored. This is also a great opportunity to try foods from different cultures as many of them are naturally plant-friendly. Nigerian cuisine, for example, has some winning dishes such as jollof rice, okra stew, stewed beans and more.
“It’s important to get clued up on nutrition. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains and healthy fats to ensure you are meeting your dietary needs and getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Taking part in Veganuary will no doubt give you an amazing head start, but don’t be afraid to take things slowly going forward. It takes time to adjust to a huge lifestyle change. If it helps, stick to simple and accessible recipes, plan ahead with meal prep and stock up on convenient, healthy vegan snacks, so that you’re never stuck on what to eat.”