January. The time for new beginnings, resolutions and intentions.

If you’re a health blogger yourself, you will be familiar with the increase in popularity of the vegan lifestyle. But what exactly does a vegan lifestyle entail?

The Vegan Society states that being vegan is:

‘A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’

Each year, more and more people are choosing to take part in Veganuary: a global charity that encourages people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the whole of January. In 2016,  22,951 people officially signed up to Veganuary – a massive rise from the 12,800 in 2015. This year it’s set to be even higher.

However, going completely vegan can be tough – from eating out and grabbing food on the go, to creating interesting dishes at home – it can sometimes be difficult to follow this lifestyle in the real world. Or so you may think! With the help of Veganuary (and the HBC), you can find out how to go vegan, not just why.

“Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January.”

The website is kitted out with a comprehensive – yet easy to navigate – guide to being vegan. There is a vegan ‘starter kit’ which teaches you how to read labels to check for hidden ingredients that aren’t vegan. There’s also a baking guide, meal plans, myth busting articles and everything you need to know about getting the essential nutrients your body needs. What’s more, there are hundreds of quick and easy recipes to try, so you’ll never be stuck for inspiration!

Whilst most people are motivated by a compassionate will to stop billions of animals suffering worldwide, there are many benefits to going vegan.

A vegan diet can boost your health and lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and it can even increase your life expectancy. Following a vegan diet is kinder to the planet than a meat-based diet, and it massively reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It helps to protect wildlife and nature and reduces pollution. To read about even more benefits of going vegan, head to the Vegan Society website.

Whatever your reason for trying out a vegan lifestyle – and there are many – it’s important that you replace the nutrients you have removed from your diet – such as protein, B12, Omegas 3 & 6 and calcium – in order to stay healthy. These are easily obtained by adding legumes, grains nuts, seeds, soya and plenty of vegetables into your diet.

One common obstacle facing most new vegans is how to eat out.

I lead a mostly plant-based diet (although I don’t label myself as vegan) and know how hard it can be to eat in mainstream restaurants when you don’t eat cheese or eggs – or in my case, cheese, eggs or mushrooms! It can also seem really intimidating if you’re the only one at the table trying to order something suitable that isn’t on the menu – I don’t know about you but I hate to cause a fuss!

However, many restaurants are becoming more accommodating. Zizzi’s recently launched a vegan menu complete with vegan cheese; Wagamama’s have plenty of oriental options to choose from; Handmade Burger Co now offer a chickpea & quinoa burger; whilst Pizza Express have a vegan pizza (albeit with no cheese alternative). Even the very traditional Toby Calvary has a vegan nut roast option! So whilst it can sometimes be difficult, the vegan diet is becoming more mainstream and easier to maintain when eating out. For a full list of chain restaurants with vegan options, check this Eating Out Guide.

Here at the HBC we have worked with some amazing vegan-friendly brands.

Having healthy, vegan-friendly snacks on hand when you’re out and about is essential, as there isn’t always a vegan snack option available (unless you’re round the corner from Whole foods!). If you’re looking for healthy snacks to keep you from breaking your Veganuary resolution, try a few of our favourites:

Pulsin’ protein bars (our favourite is the mint choc chip flavour!)

Hangry snack bars

Nim’s Fruit Crisps

Chika’s smoked almonds

Propercorn crunch corn

Are you trying Veganuary? or do you already follow a vegan lifestyle? Let us know your best tips for maintaining your diet below!