Sometimes positive change can start from your plate — and what better time to modify my lifestyle in a way that felt good to me and offered the chance to challenge myself than the start of a new year. Between my passion for documentaries (I fancy myself something of a doc connoisseur) and my dedicated workout routine, I’d noticed that plant-based had become a hot trend in recent years, popping up in different areas of my life. Even though I’d wanted to participate for a while, I’d never actually taken the plunge. This year was my chance. Could I transition to a plant-based diet? I wanted to find out.
Veganism for beginners: My attempt at the Veganuary challenge
I’d been looking for a plant-rich diet to go along with my workout routine — something that would inspire me to experiment with different types of fuels. So, when I heard about Veganuary — an annual challenge that encourages people to take up a vegan diet for the month of January — I signed myself up.
Now, veganism is not for everybody, and you can find what works best for you to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. But I had already given myself a bit of a head start by getting used to meals without meat, and was looking for a bigger challenge.
In fact, as I made my way through the month, there was one crucial thing that truly made this challenging: I was cutting foods out of my diet, but I needed to replace them with plant-based alternatives. I thought I’d have to go to some off-the-beaten-path health food stores to find them, but I learned that wasn’t necessary. As I went looking for these plant-based products, I was amazed at what was already available at my local grocery store. In all my years of grocery shopping, I had never once noticed them, but — with a focused eye — I found that there were so many products for me to choose from!
Thinking of choosing plant-based? Finding vegan products is easier than you’d think. Here are the top three products from my Veganuary shopping list that got me through.
Silk Half and Half Oat and Coconut Plant-based Creamer
If I could find a replacement for my coffee creamer, I knew that half the battle would be won. I drink coffee every day — sometimes multiple times a day — with a good helping of milk or cream each time. I’m not a fan of coconut, so I was curious about how this would blend into my daily cup of java. Let me tell you — my taste buds were pleasantly surprised by Silk’s Half and Half Oat and Coconut Creamer. The mix of oat and coconut creates a creamy union of both flavours that enhanced my coffee in a way that milk products don’t.
Gusta Espanola Vegan Wheat Sausages
I need something hearty and filling to round out my meals, so finding these vegan sausages was a lifesaver. I’ve tried vegan sausages in the past which tasted, honestly, disgusting. But these are seasoned to perfection and pack a spicy punch for my curious taste buds. I’ll eat these whole for breakfast or give them the chorizo treatment by chopping them up for pasta or taco night. The ingredient list is so simple that the average person can easily tell what plant-based foods they’re made of — a blend of wheat protein, bell pepper, onions, garlic and more.
Silk Vanilla Oat-based Yogurt
I can’t get enough of yogurt. I love it because it’s such a simple, easy-to-make snack. Before coming across Silk’s Vanilla Oat Yogurt, I actually thought a yogurt replacement didn’t exist, but when I tried it, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between this and the dairy kind. It’s creamy and delicious with a hint of sweetness and, best of all, there’s no strange aftertaste that is often so common with vegan products. The possibilities with this plant-based yogurt are endless — I add it to my smoothies, top it with berries as a healthy snack or enjoy it as a replacement for heavy cream in pasta sauces.
You may also like: Foods to eat (and avoid) to help you fall asleep faster.
These are my tips for making it through Veganuary
They call this a challenge for a reason. Unlearning the eating habits I’ve been used to since I was a child is difficult to break. I found that organization was key — researching recipes, finding vegan products and making detailed grocery lists saved me from falling into my previous habits. Call me an idealist, but even though I’m only one person on a planet of billions, I believe that making a global change starts with each person doing their part — and I’m excited about doing mine!