Ahh it's that time of year again - January. The month of new beginnings, frantic rushes and a colossal amount of designated monthly challenges - last year I did Dry January and as a result I ended up drinking less and less as the year went on, but today we're talking about Veganuary.
Just in November 2018, I tried my hand at being vegan for a full month after being a predominant meat-eater for all of my life.
I lasted only two weeks and I have a few hunches as to why.
Firstly, you might be wondering why I would even want to go without animal products in my diet. Well, at present I eat a predominantly 'flexitarian' diet - by this I mean, I aim to only eat meat and fish three - four times per week - sometimes it's higher, sometimes it's lower.
For the past three days I've been following a vegan diet - more on this later - and it seems to be going a lot better than my previous attempt - I might even make the full month this time!
This time around I'm approaching this challenge from a different angle and mindset.
Here's the five things I'm remembering this Veganuary to make the transition easier...
1. Plan Plan Plan
This is SUCH an important one. Going from a diet that allows you to eat animal products, to one that doesn't, makes you very quickly realise just how much stuff contains animal products!
Last November I vividly remember going round the supermarket, label checking everything and letting out a murmuring groan every time I couldn't eat yet another thing because of what it contained.
This time around I've been planning my meals a week in advance. Not only has this been great for reducing my food waste, but it's also inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen. I've always been a massive foodie, but there's no reason that anyone can't continue to be whilst following a vegan diet - plus, perusing through recipe books is pretty therapeutic!
2. Remember Why You're Doing It
Sometimes, you might possess an overarching desire to tuck into some chocolate, or to dust your pizza with cheese, or to devour a hamburger - I went through this in particular during stressful postgrad times.
What I didn't do last time, which I will do now, is remember why I'm *trying* to go vegan in the first place.
At the moment, I must see at least one article, usually from The Guardian, on why cutting your meat consumption is the most important thing you can do if you want to help the planet.
And I do - I love our planet.
In my bid to be as environmentally friendly as possible, I've ticked a lot of boxes so far, but my diet really needs some attention and 2019 is the year I'm focussing on addressing it.
3. Remove Temptations
Before I embark on this years Veganuary challenge, I will be finishing up all of the existing food that's in my cupboard that doesn't align with the challenge requirements.
Food waste, to me anyway, is so much worse than eating it in the first place. Don't just throw out that perfectly good block of cheese or piece of steak just because you're planning to go vegan for a month.
Finish it all up now, and then start the challenge.
I was pleasantly surprised that when I signed up for Veganuary, they let you pick your own start date - I've picked Thursday 3rd January because this is when I will be back at university full-time, so will finish the challenge on the 3rd Feb.
One of the reasons I feel that I failed to finish this challenge last time was not only because of cravings, but because of how sluggish I felt.
This time around, I'll be checking the nutritional value of every ingredient.
This sounds laborious, I know, but I'm hoping that within at least two weeks I'll get the gist of things and knowing how much I need of certain foods to meet my body's nutritional demand will become second nature to me
Additionally, I'm going to use this time to try recipe box subscriptions - first of all I have Riverford Organic coming up and then Mindful Chef, with my other decisions being made later in the month.
I'll definitely have reviews of these coming up, and you can follow me on Instagram to find out my thoughts in real-time
5. Forgive Yourself
So last time I tried a similar challenge to this, I didn't make it through the full month - and that's okay.
I've spoken to many friends - who are now vegan - that have been able to stick to it from day one, and others who it took a little more time to adjust to life without animal products.
Remember your intentions and how far you have come, instead of feeling rubbish about yourself if you slip up.
I hope you find these tips useful if you're embarking on your vegan journey.
What tips do you have that aren't mentioned here?
For me, I have plenty of friends who follow a vegan diet surrounding me and I understand their ethics and values, but it was only once I decided that I'm ready to be committed to following this diet that it really seems to have stuck...
So far at least - I guess we'll find out in a few weeks, huh?
Disclaimer: I have not been sponsored by Veganuary for this post and it is reflective of solely my opinion. I have also not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in this post either.
*For clarification I am aiming to follow a vegan diet only for this Veganuary, rather than a completely vegan lifestyle* - I'm not perfect, but I'm trying one step at a time.