Veganuary, the clever combination of ‘vegan’ and ‘January,’ hopes to evaporate fears of going completely plant-based with a simple challenge: pledge one month of veganism, and see how it goes. Think of it as a trial-run, or a New Year’s resolution which might eventually fall by the wayside but, in an ideal world, would continue throughout the year.
Did you know . . .
In this blog, Allen Marketing Communications, a boutique food and beverages public relations agency based in New York City, explores how veganism is becoming more prevalent and more embraced by these grocers, restaurants, schools and colleges and fast food establishments. Eating a plant-based diet has arguably never been easier, with vegan options for all of the basic food items and more.
Now, all that’s left is to actually take the leap and implement these plant-based foods into a consistent diet.
Are There Real Health Benefits?
Plant-based diets are linked to “a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, according to Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition” (InStyle). The blast of fibers and minerals abundant in plants and absent from meat products does wonders for the immune system and for overall digestion and gastrointestinal health, decreasing inflammation and reducing cholesterol and glucose levels.
Veganuary’s efforts don’t come to a halt on January 31. Each year, the organization advocates for people to adopt a vegan diet and provide support to businesses such as restaurants and supermarkets through change at the corporate level.
Veganism Can Slow the Climate Crisis
Veganuary also boasts the potential positive environmental impact. Studies from the Nature Journal “maintaining a Western diet high in animal products and processed foods at its current rate could cause a spike in food-related climate change contributors — including water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions — by as much as 90 percent by 2050” (InStyle).
The benefits of a vegan diet improve bodily health, the planet’s health, and the health of mooing bovines, spared from the slaughterhouse. But the question remains: what is there to actually eat and drink during Veganuary?
Here are some options:
Vegan Meats and Poultry
In exchange for red meat and chicken- or turkey - based products from the grocer, try the vegan alternatives to enrich your diet with the necessary protein. Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have been game changers presenting everything from vegan burgers to sausages to bacon. There’s even vegan chicken nuggets for the elementary-aged picky eaters.
While opinions on flavor are subject to personal taste, there are various plant-based meats to try and find the one to the family’s liking. Besides, there are health benefits to justify foregoing animal meat products. When compared to beef, both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat burgers have zero cholesterol, and Beyond burgers have significantly less saturated fat (Simply Recipes).
There are an endless amount of recipes with plant-based meat products perfect for lunches and family dinners. Enjoy the familiar flavors of curry, quesadillas, pasta, and more mealtime staples with the added benefit of a vegan twist.
An important part of veganism is avoiding any product derived from animals, even dairy. Vegan milk has been around for years, but its prevalence has never been more salient, considering the youth culture of ordering oat milk lattes from Starbucks. With options as broad as soy, oat, almond, and cashew, cheese is following the bandwagon.
Companies are turning to nuts as the alternative ingredient for vegan cheeses. “More companies incorporating the trend means lower prices, while higher-end “Italian and French brands, such as Cicioni Casa del Fermentino, chickpea based vegan cheeses by Porto Via, Ferretti, Jay and Joy, and Les Nouveaux Affineurs apply their cheese making traditions to plant-based alternatives” (Food Matters Live).
There’s no need to abandon pizza either. Sweet Earth and Blackbird are only two pizza brands among many which supply the gooey, delicious pies made especially for vegans. They offer numerous types of pizza with any of the traditional toppings, ready-made in the frozen foods aisle.
Another way to eat animal foods without actually eating animals is with vegan seafood options. “Legumes and soy can imitate the textures of fishy foods, as well as the Japanese “konjac, a root vegetable that’s used to make zero-calorie foods like shirataki noodles and konnyaku” (VegNews).
“Good Catch and The Plant Based Seafood Co. carry fish filets, salmon burgers, coconut shrimp, crab cakes—virtually every ocean-dweller has its own plant-based option. The market is still up-and-coming, since fish is more difficult to imitate than other meat options” (Oxygen Mag). In conjunction with concerns over the ethics of the fish industry in addition to efforts like Veganuary, it is projected that the demand for raw vegan fish will rise.
Perfect as a snack or in bulk for a party platter, vegan seafood can satisfy the craving for surf amidst a plethora of turf options.
In households which are ingredient-focused, stocking natural products in bulk as opposed to processed foods, there are so many food options which are vegan without being labeled as so.
Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils can provide protein for the vegan dieter. For minimally processed foods, tofu and seitan are excellent alternatives to meat, and sourdough and ciabatta bread are technically vegan.
Veg News predicts “the increasing relevance of mushrooms and seaweed for their savory taste, health benefits and versatility in recipes. Mushrooms boost the immune system, are a source of vitamin D, and contain cancer-preventing properties. Seaweed is a good source of iodine and antioxidants to protect you at the cellular level. Adding these ingredients into a weekly rotation could do wonders for your overall health.”
Vegan Fast Foods
After a week of preparing delicious vegan meals, exhaustion will inevitably compel a steadfast Veganuary-partaker to pick up the phone and order from a fast food chain.
America’s favorite fast food chains are incorporating more vegan options: in 2022 alone, “KFC launched The Imposter Burger, McDonald’s introduced the McPlant, and Subway offered two limited-edition vegan subs” (Vegan Food and Living). Whether the craving is for classic American food, Mexican, Chinese, or even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, vegan options have become permanent menu installations.
If veganism becomes less of a trend and more of a serious lifestyle choice for a dramatic number of people, we may see vegan options in all of the major fast food chains. Perhaps traditional style restaurants will hop on the bandwagon too.
Our food and beverages public relations professionals stay on the pulse with trends such as Veganuary. Plant-based products are exploding in popularity presenting new markets for food companies.
By Caitlin Moehrle at Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.