Doing the Veganuary thing this year? You’ve come to the right place, because this dietitian has a ton of tasty and healthy veganuary recipes to help you love what you’re eating this month plus the Veganuary tips you NEED to have fun and feel your best!
As a plant-based dietitian who has also written a plant-based cookbook, I know a thing or two about making healthy plant-based recipes that are also really yummy and fun to eat. And with all of the awful fad diets out there at this time of year, it makes me so excited to see folks choose a positive and non-restrictive start to a new year. Eating a vegan or plant-based diet is filled with flavour and possibility and it helps make a positive impact on the environment as well as animals.
I’ve got everything you need to get started here in this blog post…so let’s do it!
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a month-long vegan challenge each January, created by a non-profit organization to help encourage folks to give vegan living a try. It’s a great way to dip a toe into the world of plant-based eating in a fun and supported way even if you’re not ready to go vegan long term.
Vegan vs Plant-based
I get a lot of questions about what a vegan diet is versus a plant-based diet and I have to admit that the words get used so interchangeably that it is kind of confusing. People also define them differently (ARGH!) which makes things worse. So here’s my two cents!
- Vegan: A vegan diet is 100% free of animal products, including honey. Some folks choose to just eat a vegan diet but more often, folks adhere to a fully vegan lifestyle, eliminating wool, leather and other animal derived ingredients from their home and personal care products.
- Plant-based: In my opinion, there are two main ways to look at a plant-based diet. The first is someone who eats mostly plants – perhaps 80% or more – but also still includes some animal products such as the occasional fish or honey. The other popular definition is derived from the whole food plant based movement, which means that while the diet is 100% free of animal products, there is a focus on eating actual whole plant foods for health.
As an example, oreos are vegan…but they aren’t really plant-based. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to the word vegan for non-vegan consumers, a lot of vegan products are now simply referred to as plant-based even though they aren’t whole foods.
I’m not much of a fan of labels, because we each get to define the best way for us to eat. Myself? I like the plant-based label for a couple of reasons: the first, was that it took me a long time to transition from vegetarian to vegan so plant-based felt inclusive to me. And I like inclusive. Secondly, while I don’t adhere rigidly to whole food plant based (and I’m not sure that most people should) I do focus on eating mostly actual whole plant foods.
Health Benefits of Going Vegan or Plant-based
There are so many reasons why someone might want to go vegan or plant-based…and not all of them have to do with nutrition! You might want to do your part for climate change or help animals. Of course, regardless of your why, there real health benefits to taking the plant-based path.
Veganuary Tips + Tricks
I know you’re stoked on getting started, but a month is a long time…so let’s set ourselves up for success, shall we? In addition to saving all your fave veganuary recipes, you’re going to need a little advice on how to make these changes stick. Read on for some veganuary tips from an actual registered dietitian who knows her lentils from her chickpeas..
- Stock your pantry before the month starts If it’s not in your cupboard or fridge, how are you going to eat it? Check out this list of plant-based proteins, because it’s probably going to be the biggest change to how you eat (assuming you already eat fruits and veg of course!). Ensure that you always have 3-4 different protein sources on hand for easy meals. Choose a few whole grains to have on hand. And, stock your pantry with some easy quick meals like whole wheat pasta with a marinara sauce or baked beans in tomato sauce.
- Do some batch prep Don’t have much time to cook? Not to worry! Set aside a bit of time on the weekend to cook 1-2 whole grains, 1-2 proteins and chop up some fruit and veg to make weeknight cooking easier. Cooked legumes and whole grains can be frozen, so cook in large batches so you’ll have weeks of supplies. If you prefer, you could batch prep whole meals instead – I have some recipes below.
- Look for plant-based versions of your everyday favourites You don’t have to remake how you eat this month! Instead, find plant-based recipes for the foods you already love, such as burgers, curries or pizza. You’ll also want to find non-dairy milks, cheese and meat alternatives that suit your taste buds and your budget.
- Create a balanced plant-based plate to cover your nutritional bases A healthy vegan meal has the same components as an omnivore meal…we just get our nutrients from plants! As a simple formula, think of covering half of your plate in fruits and vegetables; a quarter of your plate in whole grains and the last quarter of your plate in protein foods like lentils. When you go vegan, you’ll also need a B12 supplement and we all need to take our vitamin D. This post tells you everything you need to know about vegan nutrition.
- Sign up for a supportive community this month Each January, I do a non-restrictive challenge called Eat More Plants…so if you are looking for a dietitian-led, diet free community to support you through Veganuary, why don’t you join us? You’ll be prompted to sign up for the Nutrition with Desiree community on Mighty Networks (it’s free) and then the month-long challenge is just $10 because I want to make supportive evidence-informed nutrition available to all.
21+ Healthy Veganuary Recipes
Now the best part: what to eat!!! This blog is filled with tons of healthy vegan recipes that are super tasty, but I wanted to create this little collection of veganuary recipes so you could easily bookmark it to use all month long.
Veganuary Breakfast Ideas
Blackberry Pie Overnight Oats
These blackberry overnight oats take just 5 minutes to prep and are filled high fibre plant foods to help keep your gut feeling great! Vegan, gluten free and nut free option.
Get the recipe
Vegan Soups and Stews
Pumpkin Miso Soup
Want to jump on that PSL bandwagon but looking for something a bit more savoury? This Pumpkin Miso Soup is perfect for sweater weather!
Get the recipe
Protein-rich Vegan Meals
Vegan Meal Prep Recipes
Whole Food Plant based Snacks
21+ Veganuary Recipes: Cilantro Walnut Pesto
A bright, zesty vegan pesto recipe that packs an anti-inflammatory punch thanks to a mix of cilantro and curly parsley with whole lemon (skin and all!). Easy to make and so flavourful on pasta.
- 1 cup curly parsley, leaves and tender stems, lightly packed
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems, lightly packed
- ¼ cup walnut halves
- ¼ large lemon, skin on, seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
In a small food processor or large cup for blending, add the parsley, cilantro, walnuts, lemon, hemp hearts, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt. Pulse until finely chopped and uniform – or puree if using an immersion blender.
Next, drizzle in olive oil while pulsing the mixture, to emulsify the pesto. If using an immersion blender, the mixture will have a creamier consistency when you blend.
If adding pesto directly to pasta, toss pasta with a tiny drizzle of olive oil first to coat the strands so the pesto spreads a bit easier. Or store pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to three days…if it lasts that long!
You can vary the amount of garlic depending on how much you like it. And make sure to buy fresh walnuts and store them in the freezer! They shouldn’t be overly bitter.