Veganuary is an annual global campaign that encourages people to adopt a plant-based lifestyle throughout the month of January, starting on the first day of the month.
After a major year for Veganuary 2021 with more people experimenting with animal-free diets during the pandemic than ever before, 2022 became Veganuary’s biggest year yet – and 2023 could turn out to be just as successful.
The Vegan Society, a charity promoting a plant-based lifestyle, defines veganism as a “way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. As such, opting for meat and dairy-free lifestyle extends further than just the food and drinks we consume.
Supermarkets and restaurants have started to expand their vegan offerings to keep pace with demand for animal-free food.
But, it’s also important to consider fashion and beauty choices, since both industries rely heavily on animal by-products. Luckily brands are becoming increasingly aware of the need for change and developing products in accordance with demand.
If you’ve pledged to take part in Veganuary, we’re here to help it a little easier. Here are our tips on everything you need to live a plant-based life throughout January and beyond – from our favourite cookbooks to updating your beauty regime.
Food and drink
First up is the food, the most common starting point when it comes to beginning your plant-based journey. While it’s easy to focus on the things you can’t eat, try to see it as an exciting opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and step away from the frozen bean burgers, as nice as they might be.
Why not pick up a copy of ‘I Can Cook Vegan’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (£17.99, Blackwells.co.uk). This tome took the top spot in our guide to the best vegan cookbooks for being a “a complete ‘best of’ when it comes to meals people actually eat”.
A fast-track to vegan recipes (which took our tester years to discover), this recipe book was praised for featuring “vegan versions of home-cooked, comfort-food favourites”.
Most of the ingredients you’ll need are easy to find, with the exception of some specialist shopping required. From a chickpea alfredo to banh mi and pad thai, our tester wished this book was around when they first switched to a vegan diet.
If you have a little more time on your hands, consider going all out with ‘Flavour’ by Yotam Ottolenghi (£15, Amazon.co.uk) which offers the chance to impress (read: show off) to your dinner party guests throughout Veganuary and beyond.
The shopping list can quickly get out of hand when you first go vegan, which is where ‘Broke Vegan: Over 100 plant-based recipes that don’t cost the earth’ could help (£10.94, Amazon.co.uk).
Written by Saskia Sidey, this tome can help keep costs down with “delicious, simple meals” – from a caramelised shallot and tomato tart to the most foolproof hummus our tester has ever created. We’ll be adding to our basket now.
If you’re looking to make veganism particularly easy, why not try a recipe box or pre-made food subscription service?
In our guide to the best, Grubby (from £26 for two recipes per week, Grubby.co.uk) – the first ever exclusively vegan recipe box in the UK – was a vegan favourite. With 60 recipes including harissa spiced courgette with couscous and garlic tahini dressing, we praised its use of locally sourced organically grown British produce. And, while sustainability can be a worry with recipe box deliveries, these are delivered to your door by bike provided that you live in London.
Mindful Chef’s recipe box (from £4.50 per meal , Mindfulchef.com) also received high praise in our review. You’ll receive recipes along with all the pre-measured ingredients you need to knock up a feast.
Choose from sweetcorn fritters, black bean salsa and avocado or tikka smoked tofu skewers with apple slaw, and prepare for a delicious dinner every night of the week.
Finding healthy and easy mid-week lunches can be hard enough, let alone when you want to eat vegan. Praising the quality and convenience of its pre-made meals, we had great things to say about Tyme’s plant-based subscription service (from £30 a week, Tymefood.com) if you want to switch up snacking and lunches at your desk.
If you’re worried you’re going to miss your fix of Dairy Milk in January, you’ll be glad to know that there are a commendable range of brands producing high-quality vegan chocolate, meaning you’ll never have to miss out on sweet snacks.
Crosstown took the top spot in our guide to the best vegan chocolate bars for its yuzu & passion fruit chocolate (£5.95, Crosstown.co.uk) , with our reviewer praising its “fresh-tasting zesty and fruity ganache, encased in 72 per cent dark chocolate” – “utterly delightful”, as they put it.
Another one of our favourites has to be Tony’s Chocolonely not least because of its taste but also its ethical ethos. The brand's raison d'être is to make the chocolate industry 100 per cent slave free. It works directly with farmers and invests in farming cooperatives, as well as pays extra premiums on top of Fairtrade prices – with more than nine per cent of the product's price going back to the cocoa farmers.
Of its vegan dark chocolate almond seat salt (£3.50 Ocado.com), our reviewers said: “When it comes to texture, it’s hard to beat Tony’s Chocolonely’s, as its bars are impressively chunky. Each bite of this moresish vegan chocolate bar is filled with a wonderful marriage of chunky almond as well as a clean finish of sea salt.” Sweet tooth, well and truly satisfied.
You might not know it, but many bottles of wine in your collection may contain animal products owing to the fining process (the bit that helps make the wine clearer, stabilised and less bitter). These fining agents can include milk proteins, egg whites, gelatine or even fish bladder.
But, you don’t need to miss out on your favourite tipple during Veganuary because the Purato Grillo spumante (£13.50, Amazon.co.uk), which featured in our guide to the best organic wines, is vegan-friendly.
That’s not the only box it ticks, it’s also carbon-neutral and has eco-friendly packaging. Of course, you want it to taste the part too, and “with fine bubbles, subtle floral aromas and well-balanced acidity” our tester think it does just that.
There’s no denying the fact that the fashion industry has a long way to go to when it comes to ethical and sustainable credentials as noted in our guide to the books that educate you on the realities of fast fashion.
Socially, garment workers remain mired in poverty as the business model is to churn our fresh lines of clothing at a frightening rate. On a sustainable level, according to the McKinsey report, people consume in excess of 100 billion pieces of clothing a year, globally. And the textile industry is said to be the second biggest polluters, and responsible for 92 million tonnes of waste annually.
However, as consumers, we can use our buying power to invest in the brands that are doing good – reaching for ethically made clothing and accessories, as well as not buying items made from animal by-products, making Veganuary the perfect time to change your lifestyle in terms of your clothing and shoe choices.
In the former, MUD Jeans stood out as a favourite thanks to its eco-friendly credentials, notably, the fact the slim lassen jeans (£100, Mudjeans.eu) are made from 23 per cent post-consumer recycled cotton, 75 per cent organic cotton, and 2 per cent elastane.
While making more sustainably focused clothing decisions can be more expensive, but thankfully our guide to the best women’s ethical fashion pieces for £50 and under is here to help. Our writer discovered a great selection of brands making fairly made and pocket-friendly clothing.
The piece that took the top spot was a blue check sweetheart neck top from Omnes – you don’t have to look far to know this neckline design is bang on trend. While this particular design is currently out of stock, our other top picks included a pair of Celtic thistle print shorts from Mayamiko (£21, Mayamiko.com), a fair trade brand committed to being as close to zero-waste as they can be.
Our tester noted that the “high waistband makes them feel more chichi than beachy, while the thistle print is a welcome change from anything you’re likely to find on the high street.”
If your new Veganuary lifestyle means you need to invest in some new footwear, it’s important to remember that it’s not just leather you have to consider when choosing a pair of fresh creps – many shoes are made with wool, silk and animal-derived glue.
Should you want to kick genuine leather this Veganuary, take note from our roundup of the best vegan boots for women. Comfortable, wearable and bang on trend, our winning pair hailed from vegan and cruelty-free label Matt & Nat (£155, Mattandnat.com).
“Complete with embroidered white Matt & Nat logo on their shiny PU upper, what we really love about them is their utilitarian feel, which is mastered by jagged detailing around the sole, elastic gore panels, and an ankle-hugging fit,” our tester praised.
But it’s not all about their looks – our tester also loved “the chunky terrazzo-style sole (70 per cent recycled rubber), which feels solid and durable but made light work of a three-hour weekend walk.”
For an everyday item that you’ll get a lot of use out of, a handbag that’s free from animal-derived materials may be on your wishlist. Charting the likes of Stella McCartney and Jw Pei to lesser-known vegan labels, our vegan handbag directory is well worth browsing for inspiration.
Made from cactus leather, the PVC- and cruelty-free crossbody bag from Frida Rome (£275, Fridarome.com) was a standout design.
Veganuary offers an opportunity to not only think about the ingredients we’re putting into our bodies, but also the ones going on our skin.
Luckily, there’s been a move towards brands being increasingly cruelty-free – animal testing is a big no – and producing products that contain no animal-derived ingredients or by-products. Not sure what to keep an eye out for? Moisturising agents such as beeswax, honey, snail gel and lanolin in your creams, cleansers or lip balms are the ones you need to avoid.
It can be hard to find a vegan foundation, but the Elate refresh foundation (£25, Elatebeauty.com) landed a spot in our guide to the best natural and organic make-up products thanks to being cruelty-free.
While the coverage is more of a tint, it blends and builds well and wears nice and evenly throughout the day.
If you’re searching for a make-up brush, you’ll want to consult our review of the best vegan make-up brushes since typically in non-vegan brushes, bristles are made from weasel, squirrel, mink, badger or pony hair.
We loved the KVD Vegan Beauty lock it edge foundation brush #10 (£32, Kvdveganbeauty.com) with our writer noting that “this contoured design is one of the best we’ve tried”.
“The sculpted shapes are tapered to a slight wave which follows the contour of your cheekbones, under the eye and along the jawline, meaning you can reach every single spot of skin with ease and ensure your base products are always beautifully blended,” they added.
Veganuary also offers an exciting time to discover new products that don’t compromise on ethics and luckily there is now plenty of vegan skincare to choose from.
Gliding onto the skin without any sticky residue, it contains bioactive ingredients, such as anti-oxidant Coenzyme Q10, moisturising kiwi and passion fruit lipids, plumping vitamin A and elasticity-boosting blue lotus.
“It feels cooly refreshing to apply and has left our formerly parched skin feeling silky and looking brighter than ever,” noted our reviewer.
The plastic-free refillables are made from bamboo pulps making them compostable and the brand never tests on animals and is vegan too. As well as being kind to the planet, it's also kinder to your skin. It's free of aluminium and parabens, as for scents there’s four to choose from: rose blush, mint fresh, coconut dream, orange zest and bergamot rituals.
Our reviewer tested the bergamot rituals and noted that she “loved its creamy texture that easily glides on underarms, without feeling thick and sticky or flakey (like some other creams), and the scent is mild and absolutely not overpowering”.
Since limited options and poor access can sink even the best intentions to stay vegan, another way to make going plant-based a little easier is by opting for a vegan subscription box. But subscription services aren’t just for cooking.
In fact, it was the Lush Kitchen monthly subscription (£35 per month, Lush.com) that won our IndyBest buy in our guide to the best vegan subscription services, thanks to its rather bountiful array of colours and scents.
Filled with excitement to open their box beauty and bath buys, our tester pointed out that a subscription service can be a good way to avoid using the same scents over and over, and, speaking on the actual contents, they added: “There was a perfume, bubble bar, body scrub and two bath bombs in our kit, and aside from the normal Lush obstacles (yes, you will have a sparkly bathtub), it brought us considerable amounts of joy.”
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Looking to be more sustainable in your bathroom? Read our guide to the best plastic-free beauty products