At the start of each year, millions of people make a New Year’s resolution and try to make healthier, better choices in the new year. As part of this, many choose to join Veganuary: to eat completely plant-based for the first month of the year.
If you have been eating and cooking vegetarian regularly, the step to a fully plant-based meal isn’t as hard as it may sound. In fact, many of the recipes on this site are already vegan or easy to change.
So why would you try out a vegan diet? For the same reasons as why you would try to eat vegetarian more often. Our diet has a significant impact on climate change, with a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions coming from food, and the quality of life for the animals that are used for our traditional diet is horrific.
More Than Broccoli has always assumed that someone would cut out beef from their diet at least once a week when calculating our impact. Doing so saves you 604kg of greenhouse gas emissions a year, which is equal to heating the average UK home for 95 days. If you would also drink one glass of milk less each week for a year, you could save an additional 49kg of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equal to heating your average home another 7 days.
In comparison, if you switch your dairy consumption from regular milk to soy milk, you would only contribute 15kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions when drinking one glass a week for a year. That’s a 60% saving in greenhouse gas emissions!
So, let’s try this then, shall we? Here are a few easy ways to join in on Veganuary.
Switch to plant-based creams, milks, and butters
Many recipes use a type of cream or milk to make a sauce or dish more smooth or silky, such as a traditional Dutch mash, or in your coffee or tea. But this is really easy to swap for a plant-based alternative, such as soy milk, as the dish does not rely on the flavour of dairy in these products. I personally prefer soy milk over any other type of plant-based alternative thanks to its neutral flavour. However, when drinking coffee, I like to be a little more fancy and ask for a coconut latte or cappuccino as that gives it a sweeter flavour.
However, you wouldn’t use a full pack of soy milk or plant-based butter for one recipe so you will have leftovers. And to be fair, I wouldn’t drink a glass of soy milk just for the sake of it. But neither would I drink a glass of dairy milk (although I know a lot of people do!). So what to do with your leftover plant-based milk when making the swap while cooking? Easy, I use it to make my favourite power breakfast. Plant-based butter is also easy to use while baking, and I have successfully created my favourite cake using plant-based butter. You wouldn’t know the difference.
Review your meat replacements
Most meat replacements that I use in my cooking are actually vegan already. So when you’re trying out Veganuary, check that your meat replacements are also suitable for vegans. This may change over time and may differ by product, even if it is from the same brand. For example, the Vegetarian Butcher has made most if its products vegan, except for their Unbelieveballs.
Check the source of flavours in your recipes
A lot of people, myself included, struggle with a fully plant-based diets because of cheese. It takes time to find a plant-based alternative that you like the taste of. And your own taste develops over time too, the longer you eat more plant-based products. And of course the quality of the vegan alternatives has improved drastically.
Why do I mention cheese when I talk about flavour? Because often when you hear people say that making their favourite dish vegan wasn’t a nice experience, it’s because they chose a dish that relied on cheese to carry most of the flavour. That’s a common but easily avoidable mistake. When you eat more non-Western dishes, for example, it becomes even easier, as those dishes often rely on a delicious combination of ginger, garlic and onion to carry flavours in a dish.
So I try to only make recipes that do not rely on cheese to carry all the flavour. That way, when I substitute it for plant-based cheese, I actually get a really good experience because I still get the smoothness of “cheese” or the crispyness of a grated cheese topping, but I do not rely on a full-on cheese flavour to make my dish tasty. For example, I have successfully made both my tagliatelle with homemade meatballs AND my pastabake with vegan cheese.
Your favourite dish may actually already be vegan
If you’ve been experimenting with new foods and dishes, chances are, your favourite dish may actually already be vegan. In the past year, More Than Broccoli published 59 recipes. Over half of these were vegan. Of our top 12 dishes (based on the most popular dish each month of 2022, over two-thirds were vegan). So why not try: