Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans embark on complete overhauls of their diet in January. High on the motivation of their New Year’s resolutions, people commit to various challenges and regimens to “jump-start” their year, intent on making changes that stick.
Of course, these intentions rarely do. It’s not easy to stick to a resolution — which is why many companies, such as the Whole30, Weight Watchers, and various purveyors of sugar detoxes, have capitalized on charging participants for a diet challenge they claim works best.
Veganuary, however, is 100 percent free. But should you do it?
Many people have already committed. A whole month ahead of time, Instagram users are posting ambitiously with the hashtag, announcing their commitment to a meat-free month.
While many participants of the month-long challenge are doing so for health reasons, or as part of their January reset, the organization itself has other ideas. Veganuary is a nonprofit that began in 2014 with the mission of converting participants to lifelong veganism. Their belief is that a vegan diet can help preserve the environment and reduce impact on animals.
From their perspective, their campaign is working. In January of 2017, Veganuary reports that of the 60,000 who took part in the month-long challenge, 66 percent remained vegan for at least six months afterwards. 2017 was the organization’s most impactful year yet, prompting them to expand even further this time around.
As of December 18, the U.K. non-profit is extending their pro-vegan campaigns to the United States. Users of the Boston transit system will likely see “Veganuary” advertisements on rides throughout the month of December.
If you’re looking for a dietary overhaul in the New Year, Veganuary could be an interesting journey in discovering new foods.
“I recommend attempting this challenge as a way to explore the versatility of the plant based diet,” Lisa Hayim, MS, RD of The Well Necessities told The Daily Meal. “If you choose to take on this challenge, be particularly cautious that not all vegan diets are created equal. Some people tend to latch on to soy, others to refined carbohydrates, and others to pure vegetables.”
Hayim recommends becoming aware of a variety of ways you can get the protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats your body needs. “That’s key to making this a month that is enjoyable and delicious,” Hayim says.
However, approaching the challenge with a weight-neutral perspective is crucial. “Those with a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder should not attempt this challenge,” Hayim continued, “as it can easily create the notion that animal foods are bad, and plants are good — when this is not necessarily the case, at all! I would also caution those in this for weight loss alone, or with any digestive disorders (such as Crohn’s, colitis, or IBS), since the increased fiber might cause an issue.”
If you’re attempting the challenge from a self-affirming perspective that doesn’t involve weight loss or changing your body size, Veganuary could be a new way to add variety to your diet. Here are 15 tips for vegan beginners to help get you started.