Veganuary-31 Days of Plant-Based Eating

As we step into a new year, many of us are filled with the enthusiasm to make positive changes in our lives. One such transformative resolution gaining popularity worldwide is Veganuary. 

Veganuary

Veganuary is an annual challenge that encourages individuals to adopt a vegan diet for the entire month of January. The goal is to raise awareness about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, health, and animal welfare. Participants are urged to explore the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, not just for themselves but for the planet as a whole.

Going vegan may seem daunting at first, but in reality, it’s simpler than you might think. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Veganuary is all about and provide practical tips on how effortlessly you can make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle.

Start with the Basics:
Begin by familiarizing yourself with vegan alternatives to your favorite foods. Plant-based milk, meat substitutes, and vegan cheeses are readily available in most grocery stores. This makes it easy to replicate the flavors you love without compromising on taste.

Explore New Recipes:
Embrace the opportunity to discover exciting and delicious vegan recipes. There’s an abundance of online resources, cookbooks, and food blogs dedicated to plant-based cooking. Experimenting with new flavors and ingredients can be an enjoyable and fulfilling part of your Veganuary journey.

Gradual Transition:
Going vegan doesn’t have to happen overnight. Start by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and gradually phase out animal products. This approach allows your taste buds and habits to adjust at a comfortable pace.

Connect with Community:
Joining online vegan communities or participating in local events can provide valuable support and resources. Sharing experiences, recipes, and tips with like-minded individuals can make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.

Embrace Whole Foods:
Focus on incorporating whole, plant-based foods into your diet. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts form the foundation of a healthy vegan lifestyle. These foods are not only nutritious but also versatile and delicious.

Plant-Based Swaps

Dairy Milk:

Swap cow’s milk for plant-based alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, or rice milk.

Easy Oat Milk recipe here

Eggs:

Replace eggs in recipes with plant-based alternatives like applesauce, mashed bananas, silken tofu, chia seeds, or commercial egg replacers.

Cheese:

  • Explore vegan cheese options made from nuts (like cashews), soy, or nutritional yeast. Many stores now carry a variety of vegan cheese alternatives.

Sliceable Cashew Cheese Recipe here

 

Meat:

Replace meat with plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), and meat substitutes like veggie burgers and sausages.

Eating Out as Vegan

Eating out as a vegan can be a satisfying experience by employing a few key strategies. Begin by researching restaurants in advance, looking for those with vegan options or menus. When ordering, clearly communicate your dietary preferences and don’t hesitate to modify dishes by omitting animal products.

HappyCow is a free app that has helped consumers discover vegan food options at 200,000+ restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores in 180+ countries. 

Reading Labels and Ingredients

Read Labels

One of the most common and trusted logos denoting vegan products, especially in the U.S. is the Vegan.org Certification. The Vegan.org certification logo denotes that the product contains no animal ingredients and is not tested on animals. Over 1,000 companies and products carry the logo today.

While a “vegan” label on a food product provides clear information that the product is suitable for a vegan diet, the absence of a vegan label does not automatically mean the product is not vegan. Some products may be vegan but not labeled as such due to various reasons, such as a lack of certification or the company’s choice not to emphasize the vegan aspect.

Read Ingredients

To determine if a product is vegan, you should check the ingredients list and allergen information on the packaging. Look out for common non-vegan ingredients such as dairy, eggs, and honey. Additionally, be aware of additives or flavorings that may contain animal-derived components.

By making simple adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world. Remember, going vegan is not about perfection but progress. Every small step you take toward a plant-based lifestyle makes a significant difference.

So, challenge yourself this January and discover how simple and rewarding it can be to go vegan, even if it is only for the month.

Sign up for the 31-day Veganuary Challenge here

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Sustainable Sundaes

When striving to follow a more sustainable path and reduce your carbon footprint obvious changes like using a reusable water bottle and buying clothes used may come to mind, but there are more ways then one to be a conscious consumer.

Rethinking how every aspect of your life can become more sustainable is the real key, and that will of course be individual to you!

Every little change adds up, even the ones that aren’t so obvious.

So what about something as simple as an ice cream sundae?

Well, to begin, not all ice creams are the same!

The Real Deal:

By definition, real ice cream should be made like egg custard, then churned‍‍‍ and frozen.

In the U.S. the term ice cream is legally required to be made up of a minimum of 10% milkfat, must weigh no less than 4.5 lbs per gallon, and cannot have more than 100% overrun.

Overrun refers to the air that is whipped into the cream during the churning and freezing process and helps contribute to the light, and fluffy texture of ice cream.

Ice creams with low overrun with be denser in comparison to ice creams with high overrun percentages.

Regulating overrun along with weight per gallon is important to ensure that manufactures are not selling ice cream that has more air than cream!

For similar reasons, milk fat content is measured to be sure that the fat content isn’t being replaced with processed oils.

Tip: If you notice that the label says “Frozen Dairy Dessert” it is most likely because the product does not fit the legal standards to be called ice cream.

What to Look Out For:

Is it organic? 

For agricultural workers and local people, the health impacts of conventional agrochemical use are numerous.

In general, the standard of living for workers on organic farms is much greater than conventional farm workers.

In addition, the USDA’s has strict regulations for organic.

Organic milk must come from a cow that has not been treated with antibiotics, has not been given hormones ― for either reproduction or growth ― and has been fed at least 30 percent of its diet on pasture.

Is it ethical?

It’s important to put into consideration the ingredients used in the ice cream other than dairy.

Quite often exotic ingredients like chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are used for flavorings and mix-ins and the sourcing of these ingredients greatly impacts the sustainability of the product.

Look for the Fairtrade logo to make sure that the ice cream you are buying was ethically sourced.

Sometimes this will even be noted in the ingredients list if it’s only referring to one ingredient in the ice cream, such as “fair trade cocoa“.

Is it local?

In terms of reducing ‘food miles’ and supporting your local economy, it’s always best to buy direct from farm shops and local businesses.

When choosing ice cream it can be easy to default to the popular brands but you may be surprised to find out that there are creameries local to you and by buying their ice cream you are helping support your local community.

What To Avoid:

Does it contain palm oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil sourced from palm trees that are commonly used as an additive in ice cream.

Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, Pygmy Elephant, and Sumatran Rhino.

The palm oil industry is also responsible for serious violations of human rights including worker exploitation and child labor.

If the ice cream has added oils in the ingredients, opt for sunflower oil instead.

Is it Factory Farmed?

In general factory farms have a very negative impact on the environment, not to mention that the animals are confined and commonly mistreated.

Factory farming greatly contributes to air pollution and is responsible for a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions through methane production.

Opt for ice cream brands that are local and organic to avoid buying from a factory farm.

Is it GMO-Free?

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, have been shown to negatively affect habitat biodiversity and the companies responsible for the manufacturing GMO seeds and crops have been criticized for seriously exploiting small-scale farmers.

The spread of GMO crops such as corn, soy, and rice is directly responsible for the destruction of the Monarch butterfly habitat in North America and has caused many indigenous grain species to go extinct.

Opt for brands that have the GMO-free label when not buying organic.

Dairy Free Ice Cream:

When it comes to sustainability choosing a dairy-free ice cream option is a great way to avoid the negatives associated with the quality of the milk used!

Many dairy-free options tend to be made with coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk or frozen fruit, such as banana.

When looking for dairy-free options be extra careful to avoid unnecessary additives like palm oil.

Sustainable Ice Cream Brands:

Click to

Aldens Organic

Straus Family Creamery

Luna and Larry

Stoneyfield

So Delicious

Ample Hills

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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