There was a time after The Game Changers premiered on Netflix where everyone wanted to try a plant-based diet and put its claims to the test. The eye-opening documentary showcased the strength of super-athletes, from a powerlifter to an ultramarathon runner, which purely came from plant-based proteins. This changed the way veganism was seen – vegans weren’t ‘weak’, and it wasn’t a fad diet to lose weight either. It has since made the term ‘plant-based’ go mainstream, securing the refreshed label a more prominent place in grocery stores, cafes and conversation.
If you’ve ever wanted to try being plant-based, but weren’t sure where or how to get started – Veganuary is here! The world’s largest vegan movement, started by a non-profit organisation of the same name, encourages people from all over the world to go vegan during January and beyond. A 31-day challenge, it aims to promote the bigger picture of veganism, which is the worldwide impact it has from protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering and improving the health of millions of people.
It doesn’t matter what diet you follow – Veganuary is for everyone! Don’t let living in a country filled with flavourful food, where cheap dishes usually end up being the most delicious, discourage you from going vegan. It’s not as bland as it sounds, and doesn’t have to be costly either. Here’s our beginner’s guide to the plant-based challenge, courtesy of our plant-based editor:
What Can’t I Eat?
Avoiding animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey) doesn’t mean you have to give up big, juicy burgers or your lifelong love for cheese – there is a plant-based alternative for everything! From protein-packed tempeh patties to dairy-free cheese, they taste just as good and are guilt-free too.
Is It Nutritious?
Did you know that every single nutrient we need is available in non-animal sources? Protein can be found in tofu, tempeh, nuts and vegetables; beans and greens tend to be calcium-rich; edamame, lentils and chickpeas can boost your iron intake; leafy greens are filled with omega-3 and omega-6; seaweed is the best plant source for iodine. However, vegans are advised to take B12 supplements. If you have health concerns, please speak to your doctor or a registered dietician before starting.
Will I Lose Weight?
Not all vegan food is healthy. As mentioned earlier, there is a plant-based alternative for everything, including sweet treats and snacks such as ice cream, donuts, cakes and cookies. Like all diets, it needs to be balanced in order to be healthy. Some people lose weight at the beginning because they aren’t sure about what to eat and end up eating less than usual. Start by planning your meals out, and remember – it shouldn’t be restrictive, it is simply a replacement.
Is It Hard To Eat Out?
More and more vegan options are becoming available, even Tealive sells oat milk now, but most restaurants are able to swap out food items for you. Here are my vegan restaurant recs:
- Craving Mexican food? Try Sala in Sri Hartamas.
- Sushi? Shimmy on down to SUPE in Bukit Bintang.
- Need your nasi lemak fix? Lauk Pauk at Rex KL has got you.
- More of a roti fan? The Ganga Cafe is my go-to.
- Sunday brunch buffet? Hijau has you sorted.
- All-round good vegan vibes? Say hello to The Hungry Tapir.
What Should I Start With?
Try these small switches to get a better idea of how easy and affordable it can be.
- Breakfast: Peanut butter toast, oats or cereal with plant-based milk, scrambled tofu.
- Lunch: Rice and vegetables, salad, soup and bread.
- Dinner: Coconut curry and rice, black bean and rice burrito, lentil burgers.
What Happens If I Can’t Do It?
Don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s okay if you miss a meal or even a day. Just know that these seemingly small changes that you make to the way you eat can actually have a big impact on the world. Happy Veganuary!