Veganuary Success: Holly Parnell’s Six Key Tips for Going Plant-Based

4 mins

From keeping things vibrant and colourful to ensuring you’re supplementing properly, MasterChef star Holly Parnell guides you through a successful Veganuary.

Veganuary is a month-long adventure where people from all over the world give plant-based living a shot for the first month of the year. The initiative invites individuals to forgo animal products, including meat, dairy and eggs, and explore the diverse world of plant-based foods.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about the environmental, ethical and health benefits of adopting a plant-based diet while offering a supportive community for those willing to take on the challenge.

As a UAE based food and beverage expert, my simple and fun advice on how to pass the Veganuary challenge, gives you your very own guide to success. So, why not join in this January? It’s not just about changing what’s on your plate; it’s a chance to explore new tastes while embracing a more conscious way of living for 2024.

Keep things interesting

A vegan lifestyle can easily become mundane if your meals are feeling lacklustre because they are absent in texture and colour. It is important to keep things interesting by playing with ingredients that provide that extra bite. This could be as simple as adding cashew nuts to your salad or toasted chickpeas for your vegetable stir-fry. And remember, we eat with our eyes first, so playing with bold colours is always going to give your dishes the wow factor. Simply by adding raw turmeric, which is also packed full of anti-inflammatory properties, or beetroot, rich in vitamins and great for your heart, give a powerful pop of colour to keep mid-week Veganuary meals vibrant and fun.

colourful veganuary lasagne
Give your foods a vibrant pop of colour

Taste the rainbow

Speaking of powerful pops of colour, those vibrant veggies are where all the good stuff is. It’s important to make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of going plant-based and living on a diet of vegan nuggets and pasta for Veganuary. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have fuelled your body with food that is packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. The different colours of veg tell you that it is providing something unique for your body. So fill your plate with dark greens, rich reds, deep purples, bright yellows, and punchy oranges for the ultimate guilt-free bowl of soul.

Remember to substitute

Despite the fact you may be consuming an abundance of healthy food rich in fibre and packed full of goodness, naturally, your body will become deficient in other vital vitamins and minerals. This may cause you to start craving animal products, but in actuality, this can be easily fixed with supplements. Important ones to consider are: B12, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Omega-3 and Vitamin D

rainbow foods plate

Track your Veganuary progress

Ask yourself what you’re doing Veganuary for. Have you set out on this journey to do your bit for the planet, opting for a plant-based diet to reduce your carbon emissions? Perhaps it’s for the love of animals, adapting a vegan diet for moral obligations. Or maybe it’s the many health benefits that come with incorporating this lifestyle. Whatever the reason, it’s important to continuously reflect on why you set out on this mission and what changes you have noticed in your body, mind, and soul.

Keep a journal of your progress, the highs and the lows so that you can track how far you have come. Research how much you have reduced your carbon emissions and follow vegan Instagram accounts for daily motivation.

Mix It Up

Often the main reason people fall off their plant-based wagon is that they are not including enough variety in their meal choices. Preparation is key for a successful Veguanuary, and planning can be the difference between making it through the month and failing at the first hurdle. Try to keep your options varied. Batch-make dishes that you can freeze, such as vegan chili, ginger and butternut squash soup, lentil dhal, or beetroot and garlic pasta sauce to make for speedy, varied mid-week meal times.

Get Influenced

Follow, follow, follow! Get your Instagram feed flooded with vegan meal inspiration, helpful hacks, and motivating content. The more you immerse yourself into the vegan community, the more you will learn about the many benefits of adapting a plant-based diet. Ask questions, engage with content, and try out new dishes. Here you will learn to not only embrace Veganuary but create long-term strategies that will change your perception of food and veganism for the rest of your life.

Holly Parnell is a UAE food and beverage specialist and currently is Bounty Beet’s Restaurant Manager at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Waterpark. Holly was also a contestant on series 18 of the award-winning TV show MasterChef UK

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