The Ultimate Veganuary Guide: Why you should try it, where to eat out and more

New Year's resolution, anyone?

Updated on 08 January 2020 • Written By Maha Khan

The Ultimate Veganuary Guide: Why you should try it, where to eat out and more

Veganuary is the ultimate New Year’s resolution, following the indulgent and often meat-heavy Christmas holidays. A conflation of January and veganism, this charity campaign aims to get people to try out a plant-based diet for a month and perhaps keep up with it for the rest of the year. Whether you've decided to reduce your impact on the earth, are an avid animal-lover, or simply want to get healthier by eating more veggies, join the hundreds of thousands who sign up every year.

For some people, the challenge ends with January, but for others it becomes a lifestyle. Whether you end up being a full-time vegan or not, it's obvious that plant-based diets are not a fad, they have gone mainstream and are here to stay. A third of the entire population has cut out or reduced their meat consumption, according to Waitrose. From a minority movement to more than half a million people in the UK, the number of vegans is still growing. Eating less animal products is easier than ever for home cooks and restaurant goers. We’re lucky to have access to so many great restaurants working on amazing and delicious menus with beautiful, seasonal produce.

Plant-based diets have spawned an industry of vegan products worth billions; the spending power of vegetables is immense. Supermarkets, restaurants, and the entire food industry are paying attention. The benefits are difficult to ignore, from personal health to environmental impact, documentaries and celebrities praise veganism. We are reshaping how we view food, our health, and the planet.

Being vegan isn’t that hard if you change your mind-set and get excited for new flavours and more variety. In fact, a lot of your favourite foods may well be plant-based without you even realising it. There’s even an Instagram page dedicated to accidentally vegan foods. Chantelle Nicholson (below), chef patron of Tredwells and author of vegan cookbook Planted, says, "it's all about changing your perception of vegetables," and celebrating them for what they are. Here are some of our top tips for how to get involved with Veganuary.

Why should I try Veganuary?

So your favourite Instagram influencer has gone vegan and so has your favourite singer. But what are the benefits of ditching animal products throughout January (or for life) and why is it something that's worth trying out? Below, we answer all of your questions about Veganuary.

It’s an opportunity to try new things

During the colder months, it may seem like there aren’t as many exciting vegetables and fruits on offer, but that’s not true. Think of Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, parsnips, quince, apples and many more. "Having an appreciation of what you can achieve with the produce is key," Chantelle explains, plus "vegan ingredients have come a long way in the last few years." The world of alternatives is a fascinating wealth of innovation and intriguing ideas, such as using aquafaba (AKA chickpea water) as an egg. Chantelle recommends using miso paste for an umami flavour which can be added to dressings and soups. While milks and cheeses can be made from almost any nut you can imagine, from cashews to peanuts and hazelnuts. Fear not, you can still eat all your fave foods like burgers and bao buns.

What happens if I slip up and eat something that isn't vegan?

Take it easy, Chantelle advises to "do what you can, don't beat yourself up". Rally with your vegan or vegetarian friends and fellow Veganuary challengers for some motivation. Remember why you’re doing it, whether that’s just for the sake of a challenge, for your health, or to be more environmentally conscious. Being a part-time vegan, vegetarian, or simply thinking more about what you put in your body is better than doing nothing at all.

What if I don’t have enough time to be vegan?

People often assume that vegan foods take longer to prepare. Chantelle wholeheartedly disagrees with this sentiment, saying that she approaches cooking vegetables just as you would with meat and "employs the same techniques, like caramelisation and roasting, to bring out the natural sugars". You don’t even need fancy ingredients. But if cooking really isn’t your forte then why not head to some of the great vegan restaurants down below to celebrate Veganuary. 

I'm worried about doing Veganuary alone

Record numbers of people trying out Veganuary were reached last year and the number of vegans in the UK has tripled over the years. More than half a million people forgo meat and dairy for delicious vegetables. The demand for plant-based products has created a whole industry worth billions. You can enlist your family and friends to join in on saving the planet or, if they are bit more vegetable-averse, you can take them out to one of our recommendations below, to show them just how good vegan eating can be.

Where to eat out during Veganuary

Eating out as a vegan is so easy nowadays with accommodating menus and entire restaurants dedicated to plant-based eating. There are plenty of options depending on your agenda, be it elegant dinners, casual lunches, or to grab a quick bite.

Tredwells, Covent Garden

Why: Celebrate the month of Veganuary in style with Tredwell's vegan tasting menu. Chef patron Chantelle recommends the rich yellow-pea pancakes topped with celeriac, cabbage, and mushrooms – the dish is "well-balanced and satisfying, hitting the right notes with the sesame tofu purée and in-house sambal."
Where: 4A Upper St Martin's Lane, WC2H 9NY

Gloria, Shoreditch

Why: Gloria is one of SquareMeal's gold rated restaurants, and it’s hard not to see why, with their beautiful interiors and outstanding Italian fare. To top it all off, they’ve gone vegan this month with a special menu. We’d recommend the Animal Lover pizza for a veggie-central feast with plant-based fresh pesto; they’ve also got a load of delicious virgin cocktails if you’re doing dry Jan too.
Where: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3QR

Bread Street Kitchen, Blackfriars

Why: Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Blackfriars already has a reputation for great food, so we were delighted to hear that they’ve brought out a Veganuary menu replete with plant-based takes on signature dishes such as the Beet Wellington with a vegan mushroom gravy.
Where: 10 Bread Street, Blackfriars, EC4M 9AJ

Mildreds Soho, King's Cross, Camden and Dalston

Why: Mildreds doesn’t do basic. This decades old establishment is where you take your family and friends to prove that you can live without meat, and that they should probably go vegan too. The teriyaki 'chicken' burgers are delicious.
Where: 45 Lexington Street, W1F 9AN; 200 Pentonville Road, N1 9JP; 9 Jamestown Road, NW1 7BW; 1 Dalston Square, Dalston Lane, E8 3GU

Tibits, Mayfair and Bankside

Why: This one is for people who just want a little bit of everything. With a pay-by-weight system, Tibits is perfect for the last week of the Veganuary challenge, when you want a refresher on how amazing and versatile vegetables can be with over 40 dishes to choose from. Come on Tuesday for the vegan feast.
Where: 12-14 Heddon Street, W1B 4DA; 124 Southwark Street, SE1 0SW

Temple of Seitan, Hackney and Camden

Why: Temple of Seitan is for the days when you are craving meat. The vegan fried chicken looks and tastes just like it should, so it will blow your mind when you remember its 100% plant-based.
Where: 5 Morning Lane, E9 6NA; 103a Camley Street, N1C 4PF

London House, Battersea

Why: London House has gone vegan for January with their special menu of smashing dishes including a scrumptious kale rigatoni with walnut pesto and a hearty sticky toffee pudding, this one is for the days when you want to treat yourself.
Where: 9 Battersea Square, Battersea, SW11 3RA

Farmacy, Notting Hill

Why: Farmacy is a chic lesson in farm-to-table healthy eating, with hearty mains of pad Thai and curries packed full of seasonal delights, that will make you want to get your own allotment to grow vegetables.
Where: 74-76 Westbourne Grove, W2 5SH

If the CEO of Greggs can go vegan, without being tempted by a bacon roll, you can too. If you fancy giving it a go yourself, but still prefer to leave the cooking to someone else, check out our full list of the top vegan restaurants in London.