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.
The organisers behind the movement are preparing for its biggest year yet, with more people having experiement with animal-free diets during the pandemic than ever before. As such, it’s predicting that 500,000 people will sign up to take part, which would break last year’s record of 400,000.
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 and concerned about how it’s going to go, 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.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
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.
All the meals can be on your plate within 30 minutes, meaning there’s no excuse to not cook something fresh and delicious of an evening. From fragrant curries and warming stews to inventive salads and dinner party worthy creations, this book has it all.
“Tasty recipes, basic ingredients and all cooked up in next to no time makes this a very useful book for real life and real kitchens,” noted our writer.
Written by MasterChef winner and owner of the Nanban restaurants, this tome contains easy to follow vegan Japanese recipes, which are sure to add a few strings to your cooking repertoire.
“While some of the recipes and ingredients may feel daunting to anyone unfamiliar with Japanese cooking, we promise that everything is attainable, achievable and genuinely easy,” praised our reviewer.
“Anderson shows you how to achieve that elusive umami-rich flavour without relying on meat, fish or dairy. It’s a true eye-opener of a book – for the soy sauce butterscotch brownie recipe alone.” We’ll be adding. toour 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, allplants (£40.50 for six servings) stood out as a favourite thanks to its commitment to sustainability and for making it easy to eat vibrant vegan food. The premise is simple, choose six pre-prepared vegan frozen meals from a selection of more than 30, and they’re delivered directly to your door as often as you like.
With everything from mushroom risotto and teriyaki udon to a bbq jackfruit burrito bowl, there’s a brilliant range of “rainbow-bright dishes”, noted our tester.
It also scored highly in terms of its eco-friendly credentials, with our reviewer praising the fact that “the oven and microwave-friendly packaging is also recyclable”, “give it a rinse, and you can send the cardboard box it all arrives in, along with wool insulation, back to allplants for free through Collect+.” The company also asks you to fill in a feedback survey and plant a tree on your behalf if you do so.
If you’re looking to get cooking, why not give Mindful Chef (£61 for five recipes) a go? It received similar high-praise in our review.
Slightly different to allplants, you’ll receive a 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.
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.
“The box is designed to help its lucky receiver to feel energised and at their best, and it is a fantastic way to discover new products each month,” noted our reviewer, who received both savoury and sweet snacks, including seaweed chips and a Nucao almond sea salt chocolate bar, as well as tea bags and wellbeing-boosting products, such as a Westlab’s Epsom salt muscle spray and Linwoods’s flaxseed with bio cultures and vitamin D.
It all comes in a “lovingly wrapped box and the savings are colossal in comparison to purchasing each item separately,” praised our tester.
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.
NOMO (a clever acronym for “no missing out”) took the top spot in our guide to the best vegan chocolate bars for its caramel and sea salt choc bar (Holland & Barret, 99p) with our reviewer praising its creamy texture and the blend of sweet and tangy.
If caramel and sea salt doesn’t take your fancy, why not try the fruit and crunch bar (Holland & Barret, 99p) or plain (Holland & Barret, 99p). A great choice that tastes like regular chocolate and it won’t break the bank either.
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.
The flavours on offer are equally as great, ranging from milk chocolate (Sainsbury’s, £2.75) to dark and milk chocolate pretzel (Sainsbury’s £2.75). Our favourite? Dark chocolate almond seat salt (Ocado, £3.49), with our reviewer noting that the “hearty almond chunks and solid dark chocolate complement each other perfectly”.
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.
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.
“For vegan leather, it’s remarkably soft, with the studs making it stand out from the plain black styles usually seen with studs only on the lapels,” noted our writer.
In the former, MUD Jeans stood out as a favourite thanks to its eco-friendly credentials, notably, the fact the slim lassen jeans (MUD Jeans, £100) 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 this Omnes blue check sweetheart neck top (Omnes, £20) – you don’t have to look far to know this neckline design is bang on trend.
“An exciting arrival on the sustainable fashion scene, Omnes is probably the closest thing to an ethical Topshop you’re likely to find. The brand’s list of credentials is serious, from Forest Stewardship Council and Oeko-tex certified viscose to labels made from recycled plastic bottles, but the designs are pure, floral-sprigged joy,” praised our reviewer.
This top has “soft blouson sleeves, wide sweetheart neckline and dreamy blue, green and lilac check – printed with The Global Organic Standard (GOTS) certification-certified dyes.”
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.
While this might seem like a minefield, the Po-Zu sneak v trainers (Po-Zu, £99) took the top spot in our review of the best vegan trainers thanks for being a versatile style and comfortable from the first wear.
It’s a brand you can trust too, since “Po-Zu labels itself as makers of sustainable and ethically-sourced shoes and has an extensive environmental and ethical charter”, noted our tester.
For an everyday item that you’ll get a lot of use out of, a wallet is the perfect place to start when looking to be rid of animal by-products.
The outer shell is made from apple leather while the inner lining from recycled plastic bottles. According to our tester, it fits eight to 12 cards and a few folded notes or receipts and comes in a lovely eco-friendly box.
Another daily carry is a handbag, in order to make sure that you’re buying an animal-friendly choice, look for brands that use the PETA-approved vegan logo. For an item you can trust, turn to the Fablou city tote (Fablou, £75), which was awarded a spot in our review of the best vegan handbags.
“As well as being 100 per cent vegan, the soft unlined silicone is resistant to scuffs and easy to wipe clean,” praised our tester. It’s also perfect for when our lives go back to normal and you’re commuting into the office since there’s a detachable pouch, which is ideal for storing your phone or keys, while the sturdy structure and spacious interior (12in wide x 14in high) can easily store a 13in laptop.
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.
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 (Boots, £20.80) with our writer noting that “make-up brushes are constantly evolving and 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,” she added.
“There’s a good deal to love about Hourglass, and this vegan mascara leads the pack. With a tapered bristle brush, it is easy to apply – with the fine ‘nib’ making it easy to reach even the fine lashes at the corners of the eyes,” praised our writer.
“The mascara doesn’t clump: you can layer coat over coat depending on the level of drama required, and still your lashes will look soft and gorgeous. The pigment is a deep and winning black. An exceptional all-rounder,” she added.
If you’re looking to discover a range of cruelty-free skincare and make-up, try The Pip Box (£19.99 per month), which featured in our round-up of vegan subscription boxes. Delivering a selection of products to your door each month, this is isn’t just Veganuary but a gift that keeps giving.
Each box contains five new beauty products worth at least £55 and the brand aims to encourage people to avoid cosmetics tested on animals in favour of high-quality, cruelty-free items.
In our reviewer’s box, she received a full-size face mask, a crystal glow mask, hand cream, liquid lipstick, hair conditioning and detangling spray and a chocolate bar. This is sure to give you motivation when you’re finding Veganuary a challenge.
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”.
Looking to be more sustainable in your bathroom? Read our guide to the best plastic-free beauty products