Veganuary- What it Means, and Simple Ways to Eat More Plant-Based Meals

Veganism has surged in popularity in recent years. A growing number of people have decided to make the transition to a plant-based diet. For some individuals being a vegan is not only about food, it’s a way of life. Part of its popularity might be due to a certain extent the Veganuary movement.  Regardless of the reason, one thing is for sure, the plant-based lifestyle will continue to grow.  Let’s dive into the origins of the Veganuary movement, what it means, and easy ways that you can include more plant-based foods in your diet.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a 1 month challenge that happens every year during the month of January. It promotes the vegan lifestyle and seeks to educate individuals on the benefits of becoming a vegan.  It also encourages people to introduce more plant-based foods into their diet and to reduce their consumption of meat products. It first began in January 2014, in the UK, by founders Matthew Glover and Jane Land (1)

Since that time this challenge has gathered steam, and occurs in countries around the globe. Each year, there is an increase in the number of people that sign up for this 31-day campaign. In 2023, over 700,000 people signed up online to join the Veganuary challenge, which is an impressive feat (1). After signing up, they start receiving emails with nutrition tips, recipes, meal planning ideas, and other useful resources

What is a Vegan?

It’s someone that avoids eating meat, eggs, dairy, honey, or animal products. Some vegans will take it a step further and don’t buy any leather products unless its vegan leather.

Why do People Become Vegan?

A variety of factors can motivate an individual to transition to a plant-based diet. Here are some reasons why people have made the decision to give up eating meat for good:  

Health Related

Some health conscious individuals have the mindset that veganism is synonymous with being healthy. They stop eating all animal products in order to become healthier. To some extent this may be true, but it also depends on what their meals consist of. A balanced plant-based diet has lots of fiber and contains whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. 

Heart Health – Studies have shown that eating a vegan diet can promote a variety of health benefits. For instance, in people with high cholesterol, consuming plant-based meals can lead to a reduction in cholesterol levels (2). This in turn, lowers their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes – Following a whole-foods plant-based diet can prevent or manage type II diabetes (3). It is important to note that the type of carbohydrate (whole grains), protein and fat – all play a role in balancing blood sugar levels. The amount of processed foods in the diet is also kept to a minimum.

Kidney Disease – A growing amount of evidence suggests that vegan diets can also benefit those with chronic kidney disease. Restricting the amount of protein and substituting meat with plant-based protein has been found to have a beneficial effect on kidney function. Emphasis is also placed on eating the right combination of kidney friendly foods for adequate nutrient intake. Some of these changes also have the effect of lowering salt intake which helps to preserve kidney function (4).   

Ethical Reasons

Some people stop eating meat and become vegan because of animal cruelty concerns. They believe that it is wrong to harm and slaughter animals for the purpose of human consumption. During the farming process, animals endure suffering needlessly. Their perspective is that all animals deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect (5). 

Environmental Impact

Another reason why people decide to follow a vegan lifestyle is due to environmental concerns. The process involved with raising animals to produce meat and dairy products is having a huge impact on the environment. It contributes to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and depletion of natural resources (5). According to 2018 data, although meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions (6). Vegans believe that by eliminating animal products from their diet, they are lessening their environmental impact and doing their part to protect the planet.

A variety of factors can influence why someone would decide to follow a plant based lifestyle. It might be due to personal values, to improve a health condition, maintain good health, or a combination reasons. 

Despite this and other benefits, maybe you are not ready to make such a drastic change, or can’t see yourself giving up meat for good.  If you are interested in the health benefits of a vegan diet, then you can incorporate plant-based meals into your food repertoire. And yes, you can still take part in the Veganuary challenge, even beyond the month of January. Here are some tips on how to include more plant-based foods in your diet.


How to Include More Plant-Based Foods in Your Diet

  1. Substitute your favorite dish with a plant-based alternative- Instead of regular chili, why not make 3-bean chili? The beans contain lots of fiber which makes it a filling choice and you may not even notice that there is no meat in the dish. Check out this crockpot chili recipe with 4 different types of beans. Talk about variety.                                                                                                             
  2. Ease into a vegan diet- By first switching to a vegetarian diet, the change is gradual and gives you time to adjust to a new way of eating. This way, you are more likely to stick with these changes.  You can still transition to a vegan diet if that is your ultimate goal.                                                                                            
  3. Meat-free Days- Pick 1 day out of the week and make it a meatless day, and do this every week. Meatless Mondays is an example. You can start with one meal, then make all 3 meals meat-free.                                                                                              
  4. Breakfast Tips- Not only is it the most important meal of the day, when it comes to breakfast there are plenty of meat-free options that you can choose from. Here are some examples:  steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon apple topping, chia seed pudding, or avocado toast. These breakfast choices are delicious and easy to prepare.                                                                                      
  5. Plant-Based Non-Dairy Products-  Substitute milk for non-dairy milk like almond, oat, soy or hemp milk. Try out different varieties of vegan cheeses and yogurt.  Non-dairy milk is also suitable for anyone that is lactose intolerant. They are able to drink plant-based milk without getting any digestive symptoms.                                                                                                                       
  6. Everyday Recipes- Some dishes are easy to make vegetarian when you leave out 1 or 2 ingredients. An example is omitting the meat/ ham in black bean soup and split pea soups. Swap out the beef for lentils in a stuffed peppers recipe.                                                                                                                        
  7. Meat Substitutes- In recipes with ground beef or turkey switch it out for soy crumbles, pea protein crumbles or walnut meat.                                                   
  8. Try out a new vegan dish- step outside your comfort zone and try out new vegan inspired dishes. The Beefy Vegan Beet Burger recipe, is a unique spin on the classic beef burger. Black beans, beets and flaxseeds are a few of the ingredients in this recipe.                                                                                       
  9. Legumes & Plant-Based Proteins- Incorporate legumes, beans, lentils, nuts and tofu into your diet to meet your protein needs.                                                
  10. Read Food Labels- Check food labels to make sure there are not any animal-derived ingredients.


  1. Meet the veganuary team! (2023) Veganuary. Available at:     
  2. Koutentakis M, Surma S, Rogula S, Filipiak KJ, Gąsecka A. The Effect of a Vegan Diet on the Cardiovascular System. Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease. 2023;10(3):94. doi:
  3. McMacken, M. and Shah, S. (2017) A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes, Journal of geriatric cardiology : JGC. Available at: 
  4. Adair, K.E. and Bowden, R.G. (2020) Ameliorating chronic kidney disease using a whole food plant-based diet, MDPI. Available at: 
  5. Jovandaric, M.Z. (2021) Veganism: A new approach to health, IntechOpen. Available at: 
  6. Plant-based meat by far the best climate investment, report finds (2022) The Guardian. Available at:
  7. Crockpot chili (no date) Veganuary. Available at: 
  8. Vanderveldt, L. (2023) Beefy vegan beet burger, Available at: 

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