“I’m going to get back into my fitness.” “I’m going to learn a new language.” “I’m going to eat healthier.” We’ve all been there with our resolutions in January, but how many of us actually stick to them?
In 2019, Strava announced 19th January to be ‘Quitter’s Day’ after surveying more than 800 million people about their resolutions. They found that, by mid-February, the over-zealous efforts led four out of five people to give up on their New Year promises.
So, with old habits statistically dying hard, why not try a new tack for 2021? As people become more conscious of the environment around them and want to take steps to tackle the climate change crisis, a rising number are turning to veganism. Say no to fad diets, and hello to a new way of life. Try instead to commit to at least one month of veganism — Veganuary! Even if your late to the party on this one, try going vegan for one month and make sure that this is the lifestyle choice for you.
Here, Cath Kidston catches up with some people who made the switch permanently to share some of their top tips for making Veganuary a success.
Swapping traditional fixes for healthier alternatives
Calling quits on your daily meal plan is no easy fix. Rachel Brownstein, from Auntie Rachel’s Chaotic Kitchen, suggests that wholesale changes are not needed – at least not initially! She advises Quorn or lentils as great replacements for beef mince, while plant milk can be switched in for cow’s milk.
“Grated mushrooms make a great substitute for minced beef in chillies, spaghetti bolognese, and shepherd’s/cottage pie,” said Brownstein. “Buy ready-made vegan puff pastry and freeze it. It can then be defrosted and stuffed with filling for pasties – vegan cheese, slices of cooked potatoes, and chopped spring onions work really well – or tucked on top of caramelised onions for a delicious onion tarte tatin.”
Supporting the environment
Aimee Ryan from Wallflower Kitchen says going vegan extends beyond eating healthier. She said: “More people are becoming aware of not only the extreme cruelty involved in modern mass animal agriculture, but also the shocking effect it has on the environment. Avoiding meat and dairy is now the single biggest way to reduce your [carbon] footprint.
“I started to eat and appreciate more vegetables and fruit, which is obviously a great thing for your health and made my meals so much more interesting and flavourful. Mentally, I just felt great knowing I was no longer contributing to suffering for the animals and the planet.”
Cutting eggs out of your diet doesn’t have to mean you miss out on your favourite cakes, muffins, pies, or meringues. In fact, Ryan claims there are vegan-friendly ways to bake which offer just as much, if not better, taste.
“My best tip for beginners to vegan baking is to think of ingredients like eggs, milk, and cream in terms of texture,” said Ryan. “When replacing eggs for cakes, muffins etc, you really just need a similar sort of thick liquid. My favourite is plain, unsweetened soy yoghurt as it is flavourless and has the perfect texture. Simply use about four tablespoons in place of one egg. You may need to add half a teaspoon more baking powder to help your cakes rise.”
The liquid from tins of chickpeas, aquafaba is brilliant for recreating egg whites. It can be used as an egg wash, whisked for meringues or even used with icing sugar to create royal icing.
Mastering vegan baking
If you’re all about the sweet treat after a meal, don’t panic. There are still plenty of sumptuous puddings to dive into. Whether you’re a whizz in the kitchen or a novice baker, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out on your post-meal favourites.
Munch Free, which sells vegan and organic baby and toddler food, claims vegan bakes actually offer a better taste and consistency. A spokesperson said: “Veganuary is an amazing time to [try out vegan options], as there are so many alternatives available in supermarkets.”
The company suggests that, although there is a vast variety of dairy-free butter in the supermarkets, coconut oil makes for a less greasy bake and provides a subtle, nutty flavour. Soya and oat milk are most commonly used for baking, so next time you reach for the apron to whip up a treat, don’t be afraid to try almond milk or coconut milk if the recipe calls for a nut-based or creamy nature.
Many people are nervous about jumping into new regimes, but there are many reasons for the rapid rise in veganism in the UK in recent years. The Vegan Society claims there were 600,000 people in the UK who identified as vegan in 2019, with Brighton deemed the most vegan-friendly city.
If you’re not quite ready to make sweeping changes, try out some of these tips and tricks to get a feel for how the ingredients can be used and start experimenting this Veganuary!