Our top tips to tackle Veganuary 🌿
This year we are planning to dive head first into mission: Veganuary. Our aim is to tackle it from our typical Muscle Bakery perspective; healthified, delicious, macro-friendly and (hopefully) higher in protein. It may be a little harder to achieve, but alas, not impossible! So, we hope to prove this and we would love for you to join us!
Now, what is Veganuary?
For the whole month of January, you consume a Vegan based diet ie. no animal derived products. Much like Movember, this is done to raise awareness. For most, a love of animals is the catalyst. Some people want to feel better about themselves and the impact they make on the world. Others would like to set themselves a challenge, combining Veganuary with their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and see trying vegan as the healthiest start to the year. Whatever the reason, that is why Veganuary began.
But, what do i eat?
This is always the first question most people ask themselves, and although initially it may seem a bit daunting there is still so many foods you can enjoy, this coming from THE fussiest eater… if i can do it so can you! *pink promise*
Make a list
What I recommend to everyone who is trying to cut out foods whether it is due to intolerances or simply because they are trying to make changes and turn veggie/ vegan/ gluten-free etc is to make a list! If you start with your goals on a negative mindset and thinking of everything you CAN’T have… you will fail. Instead, make a list of ALL the foods you CAN have. You will be amazed at how much you can actually eat.
Once you have made your initial list, pair off foods that would work together as meals or snacks etc and compile it into another list. This is your potential ‘recipes’ that you can create along the way with the foods you’ve listed you CAN have.
Our recommended shopping list:
The burgers, sausages and mince by Morrisons Meat-Free range are all Vegan, however not all are free from wheat so be aware and double check ingredients. Quorn for example, is not ideal as most of their products contain some form of wheat and some contain egg too!
TRY SOME TOFU
You can buy fresh or packaged tofu from most supermarkets and for anyone looking to hit daily protein targets… Low in fat, moderate carbs and high in protein, this’ll be your best friend. It doesn’t taste of much, but that is what makes it great as you can flavour it as you most prefer. Pan-fry it with seasonings, use it to make tofu burgers or even whip up a dessert with it.
We’ve bought loads so keep an eye out for recipes (or failed recipes at that).
ALL DA GREENS
Kale, Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, peas, leafy salad, rocket, lambs lettuce… if its green its good for you! Leafy greens and fibrous green vegetables are among the most nutrient dense foods available. High in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Each one is packed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other phytochemicals and micronutrients. When eaten raw, you get the added benefit of live enzymes needed for improved digestion and nutrient absorption.
Not only that, they are great to add volume to your meals without affecting your overall calorie intake! More greens, less everything else.
PICK YOUR FAVE VEGGIES
Choose your favourite veggies and add them to your shopping list. Not everyone likes the same veggies so this is entirely up to you!
We always buy tomatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potato, squash and green peppers as they are really versatile, add flavour to a lot of meals, work well on their own, cooked or raw and have a range of benefits between them.
Top tip: if your budget is low or you don’t seem to eat all your veggies before they go off, buy them frozen! Our go-to frozen veggie buys are usually peas, mixed peppers and sweet potato wedges, but there is a huge selection you can choose from!
Fruit is natures sweeties, packed with all the goodness and bursting with flavours, they are great to eat as snacks or even to add to your savoury meals for a little something something. Our faves are usually any type of berries, pineapple which helps with digestion and of course banana’s and apples. Always got time for those.
The great thing about most types of fruit is that you can freeze them if you won’t eat them in time. Then, you can use them for smoothies or smoothie bowls.
WELCOME THE BEANS
Beans are an amazingly versatile ingredient to have! They work well in savoury and sweet recipes, are a great source of fibre and they provide an army of nutrients. Make yourself Burrito Bowls with Guacamole & black beans, use Canellini beans to make bean burgers or make yourself some cookie dough using chick peas! Only one thing, they are high in carbs and fibre, so be wary when consuming. Especially if you can’t tolerate too much fibre and want to avoid spending your days on the toilet.
These are not essential (and if you are on a tight budget then keep on scrolling), however we do use these often so decided to list them anyway. Chia seeds, ground Flaxseeds, Nutritional Yeast, Kale powder, Lucuma powder and Amazing Grass Superfood blend. Think of these as add-ons to smoothies, oats, yoghurts etc. Nutritional yeast is great to add to savoury meals to give it ‘cheesy’ flavour and is great to top up the protein content, check this previous blogpost for more info on it.
CHOOSE YOUR GRAINS
Rice, Brown rice, Oats & Quinoa are a must, they are a great carb source but unlike beans are a lot lower in fibre! Pair them up with loads of your favourite veggies, in a stir-fry, as a salad… wherever your imagination takes you. If you like pasta, then by all means have that too! (Opt for wheat-free options if you are intolerant).
As for oats, you can use to make granola, warm oats with plant-based milk or grind some up to use as flour for pancakes and waffles!
Top tip: Buy ready made packs of rice or quinoa if you are don’t have much time to cook, they do make life a little easier sometimes.
DONT HATE THE PROTEIN POWDERS
A lot of people turn their noses up at protein powders, as if by some divine reason they are exempt from needing protein. The fact of the matter is that your body needs a balanced intake of ALL macro nutrients, i.e. Fat, Carbs AND Protein. So, protein powder’s are a great way to get them in, when you are struggling to obtain them in your daily diet. However, it must be said that a lot of Vegan Protein Powders may taste a bit ‘chalky’ on their own.
Our favourites are Bulkpowder’s Choc Peanut Vegan Blend, Now Foods Vanilla Soy Protein and Sunwarrior Vanilla Blend.
Honey is out of bounds for Veganuary, so grab some Agave nectar, Coconut Nectar or Coconut Sugar instead. Any health store will have a selection of nectar’s to choose from including Date syrup, brown rice syrup etc but our fave is always Agave.
If you are looking for a lower cal alternative, Bulkpowders have a ‘Zero’ range which taste A-mazing and are zero fats, carbs, sugars etc + Vegan friendly. Their Maple flavour is incredible and unlike Walden Farms products, these taste like real syrup!
DONT NEED NO COWS MILK
Cow’s milk is the easiest to avoid thanks to the amazing selection we have in supermarkets and locals nowadays! Best advice would be to try them all until you decide on which you prefer. I like Vanilla Soy in my coffee but almond or hazelnut for smoothies. The only problem is that they are a little more expensive than normal milk so maybe find a friend/partner who can split cartons with you to avoid extra spending.
BUTTER ME UP
Again, much like Non-Dairy milks, this is easy. Bread and butter needn’t be avoided, just swap your usual spread for some Vitalite Dairy-Free or Pure Olive or Soya Spread and use them just the same. In savoury meals, sweet treats, cakes and more. We made our Gingerbread Men using just that and they were delicious! As well as the above, our pantry always has Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Sesame Oil.
We love using coconut oil for pancakes, waffles, sweet treats and cookies. Sesame oil is the perfect accompaniment for stir-fry’s and olive oil is a must for salads or to drizzle on toast… mmmmm.
Like mentioned earlier, just because you are choosing the Vegan lifestyle, doesn’t mean you need to avoid all protein! So, if you are not too great at gulping down protein shakes or find that you are not getting enough… this is your next best alternative. Easier to carry around and perfect to combat any sweet cravings.
Aside from MB bars (obviously) there are a few other bars out there which are pretty decent and have a good macro nutrient profile. Our current favourites are Trek bars, especially their Peanut Power flavour!
PASS THE BREAD
The good news? Bread is 100% Vegan. Bad news for people like me? It has wheat (sad times) however, these Quinoa & Chia wraps by BFree Foods are amazing AND also happen to be lower in carbs than your standard wholewheat wraps which is awesome.
Make sure to double check ingredients on certain packaged breads as a a few sliced breads and gluten-free breads use egg in their recipe.
Let me break it to you now, there is no cheese like real cheese and if you love cheese… you will miss this the mostest. Having said that, (THANKFULLY) VioLife brand do an amazing Vegan cheese alternative! A little bit expensive but that makes you use it wisely so not an entirely bad thing.
You can also attempt to make your own, there are various recipes out there which use tofu, cashews amongst other things.
OR, you could always sprinkle Nutritional Yeast on everything!
I thought I would miss yoghurt the most as i eat this every day, but the alternatives out there are amazing. Alpro have the widest range of products, all of which are Soya based. Coconut Collab have a Coconut based range, however those are naturally higher in fat than Alpro range. My favourite flavour is the Alpro Soya & Coconut, i enjoy it with fruit, nut butters or even with an added scoop of protein when i need it and the best thing? It has friendly gut bacteria which will keep your tummy happy.
If there is one thing you can rejoice about… it is the fact that you may consume all the nuts and nut butter’s as you please! Well maybe not ALL… coz they are laden with fats and overconsumption may lead to weight gain (we will cover this another day). But for now, nut butters are an awesome way to top up your fats and protein not to mention the added fibre that they pack.
Our recommendation would be to eat it mindfully, measure out your servings rather than just ploughing through it with a spoon and try to opt for natural nut butters rather than ones with extra sugars.
If you are a snack fiend like me, these are some of our faves: Lenny & Larries Protein cookies, M&S Peasnap Crisps, Enjoy Life Mini Cookies, Vegan Chocs.
Most Dark chocolates are actually Vegan, just make sure to heck the ingredient label… for example some Lindt Dark Chocolates contain lactose or milk 👎🏼
Note: Lenny & Larries cookies contain wheat.
Follow Instagram accounts or FB pages that will motivate and inspire you, who share recipes and tips that will spark positivity in you. Search the #Veganuary hashtag and join others who are also taking part, don’t be afraid to comment and ask them questions… they most likely want to join you too!
Some of our fave accounts are @thehungrywelshgirl, @veggiegib, @eatyogreens, @fitasfudge, @spamellab, @samanthahadidi & @burtonsbakes. All of which post Vegan recipes, some more regularly than others but worth checking out 🙂
You can also check out our current list of Vegan Recipes.
We hope this inspired you guys even if just a little!
If you are thinking of joining in on Veganuary, let us know! Try it for even just a week and see how it goes for you… think about it like this… if we ALL tried Veganuary for just a week… how many more animals would remain? Loads more that’s for sure!
We will be posting regular recipes and updates along the way, you can follow us on @themusclebakery or follow @themusclebaker directly (who is the one taking on the challenge). Don’t forget to tag us along the way too, use #VeganuaryWithMB and lets create our little online sharing community.
For anyone located in Gibraltar, head down to LPH Gibraltar for their daily Vegan specials!
The Muscle Baker ❤️