For some, being vegan is the latest trend amongst the wellness space but for others it's a lifestyle. Regardless of which path you choose, being vegan has never been easier with more food alternatives and vegan beauty options that help the environment and animals. Find out what Veganuary is and how to set yourself up for a successful month eating a vegan diet and using only the best vegan beauty products.

What Is Veganuary?

The original 31-day vegan challenge called Veganuary began in the U.K. as a nonprofit organization that promotes and educates about the benefits of veganism by encouraging people to give up all animal-based foods  for the month of January and to eat vegan food instead. Since the crowd-sourced event began in 2014, participation has more than doubled each year.

More than 629,000 people from 228 countries signed up for the 2022 campaign, according to founders Jane Land and Matthew Glover. The campaign estimated this represented the carbon dioxide equivalent of 450,000 flights and the lives of more than a million animals.

Of course, you don’t need to join an organization to challenge yourself to a month of vegan eating and living. Maybe take the challenge with your bestie or a competitive sibling if you really want to challenge yourself as a way to usher in the new year!

Unlike other month-long initiatives that benefit a charity, this initiative also benefits you. If you missed the January 1 start date, that's OK too, luckily any 30 days will do for such a great cause for your wellness.

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Why Go Vegan Even for a Month?

Going vegan, even for one month, reduces your carbon footprint. How? Raising animals for consumption requires tremendous amounts of land, feed, water and energy. Raising commercial animals pours millions of gallons of animal waste into our planet’s waterways, and the benefits of not eating meat go far beyond saving the animal itself. As for fish, overfishing has reduced many fish populations dramatically so abstaining from seafood also has its benefits.

These are just a few examples of how eating animals contributes to the climate crisis we all face. Cutting out animal products lightens your footprint in other ways, too. Moving your menu to a plant-based diet is often a helpful step toward healthy weight loss, and removing or even reducing animal products and their fats from your plate often is helpful in preventing heart disease.

Going vegan can also save money since seafood and red meat can be pricey, and you'll naturally be limited in the restaurants you can visit. Going vegan has so many benefits even if it's just for one month, but that month could change your perspective and lifestyle habits forever.

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How “Vegan” Is Vegan?

As with all things, there are degrees of commitment. First, vegans reject animal products. This does not just include what you consume and eat, but also many other products you use everyday, such as beauty products. For example, lipsticks can be pigmented by an insect called cochineal, often disguised on the label as “Carmine.” However, there are vegan lipsticks, and with the growing vegan community, the options have been endless for vegan beauty alternatives.

Vegan Beauty and Hair Products

Second, vegans reject products that are tested on animals. So you'll want to make sure your beauty and hair products are vegan for Veganuary, too. All of VEGAMOUR's hair wellness products are 100% vegan, meaning our products are strictly cruelty-free in every sense. There are no animal-based ingredients and our products are never tested on animals. If you choose to use our plant-based shampoo on your dog, however, that doesn't quite count.

One ingredient you may see on VEGAMOUR labels is “Wasp Spider Polypeptide-1 Oligopeptide-178” silk. Not to worry, this ingredient is in fact a synthetic, cruelty-free chemical copy of the silk web created by the remarkable spider, Argiope bruennichi. The synthetic silk, like the original material created by it's inspiration, is literally stronger than steel. In our hair products, the b-silk™ protein, as we call it, sheathes every strand in a resilient, protective jacket that creates strength and resiliency.

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Ease Into Veganism

If this is your first foray into the vegan experience, we suggest that you start simply. By simply, we mean eliminating the most impactful: meat of any kind, including fish and shellfish, dairy products, and eggs.

Although vegetarians may counter with the argument that dairy foods and eggs don’t require harming the source, but this is just the beginning when it comes to your own values of what is and isn’t vegan. It’s true that cow's milk is not the same as eating meat, and chickens lay their eggs because they have to. A century or more ago, milk and eggs were fairly cruelty-free. Modern factory farming has changed the conditions that animal-based products are now produced, making these products alone a persuasive case for going vegan.

Veganuary may also help you pay attention to labels and ingredients. That doesn't mean you need to throw out non-vegan products you already have since being wasteful can also do more bad than good, but being more conscious about future purchases, you'll be well on your way to having an impact on your carbon footprint.

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Foods to Cut From Your Diet for Veganuary

If you want to kick it up a notch, start reading those labels. Many foods that you think of as vegan probably aren’t. Here’s just a starter-list of non-vegan foods to cut from your diet:

1. Honey

Unless your honey is gathered locally and ethically, it's best not to buy mass-produced honey. You do have alternative vegan food options, however, such as agave nectar, maple syrup and brown rice syrup.

2. Breakfast Cereal

Many cereals are fortified with lanolin, a sheep product. If you’ve ever marveled at how rain beads up on a thick lambswool sweater, lanolin is the answer. It’s basically sheep-grease, but you don't have to give up cereal altogether. Brands like Love Grown and Kashi are good alternatives to other general brands.

3. Foods With Red Dye

You already know about the lipstick. Cochineal is also labeled “E120” or “red 4” on things like red candy. You still have options — PeTA-approved vegan candy like YumEarth Fruit Snacks, Airheads and Red Vines are all vegan approved. Better yet, look for products that use the natural color from beets and strawberries.

4. Gummy Worms and Bears

Gummies of all kinds are usually made with gelatin which is made from bones and cartilage from animals. The same goes for marshmallows, chewing gum and, of course, Jell-O. Alternatives for non-vegan gummy products include Surf Sweets Annie’s Organic Homegrown Fruit Snacks, and Squish Candies — these use plant thickeners, like pectin from apples and agar-agar, a seaweed. Dandies are an alternative for marshmallows. And for gum, you can choose Juicy Fruit or Eclipse, both vegan.

You'll also want to read the ingredients in your gummy vitamins to ensure they don't have gelatin and find a vegan gummy vitamin instead. Try GRO Biotin Gummies for Hair, which are thickened with tapioca syrup instead of gelatin.

5. Chips

Many chips contain cheese-products especially flavors like sour cream and onion, nacho cheese and anything else cheesy. Plain corn tortilla chips are usually vegan.

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6. Soy Cheese

Soy cheese often contains casein, a milk protein — the same goes for non-dairy creamers. Vegan alternatives for cheese include Follow Your Heart, Field Roast Chao. For creamers, opt for alternatives like Silk, Ripple Foods and Califia Farms.

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7. Fruit Juices

Tropicana Heart Healthy Orange Juice was found to contain fish oil and gelatin as added sources of omega-3. Minute Maid juices are fortified with D3 from sheep’s lanolin. To ensure your juice is truly vegan, buy some raw fruit and make your own.

8. Shiny Fruit

Shiny fruits that are on display at grocery stores are waxed, often with beeswax, making even this seemingly vegan food not vegan.

The list of non-vegan foods hiding in plain sight goes on. It can be overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out or are only committing to a month of veganism. It's perfectly normal to start small.

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Eight Tips for a Successful Veganuary

For a successful month of vegan eating, a little planning will go a long way. There are some lifestyle tweaks you should make and some you can let slide. Use these tips to set yourself up for a successful vegan start to the new year:

1. Give Your Pets a Pass

Dogs, cats, lizards and all of the other critters we love are typically omnivores, if not carnivores and very rarely vegans. Don’t try to change your pet’s diet in January, but you can try to find ethically sourced options that also help. 

2. Identify Your Favorite Foods

Make a list of all your favorite foods you are giving up and then seek out vegan alternatives. Food manufacturers know what people crave, and they continue to amaze with vegan interpretations of meaty favorites. Case in point: the “Impossible” burger which is free of meat though it looks just as tasty. Craving froyo? Whip up some cashew banana “faux-gurt” to satisfy your hunger for missing dairy.

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3. Do Some Homework

The internet is full of vegan recipes, so explore. And do some reading, too. We love Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, and Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life for inspiration.

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4. Apply Your Existing Culinary Smarts

You already have a few favorite dishes, right? Study the ingredients and start swapping: cashew cheese for Parmesan, black beans in the place of ground beef — the list goes on.

5. Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

No civilization in history has produced and eaten meat the way we consume it in the United States. So look to the sophisticated cookery of India and Ethiopia, for instance, where exquisite vegetarian and vegan dishes are the norm.

6. Spice it Up

When you eliminate animal-based foods, you will be dealing with proteins that are bland by nature, starting with tofu and tempeh. The magic there is that these easy-going proteins are a fantastic canvas for herbs and spices.

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7. Bond With Fellow Vegans

With such an extreme diet change, it does make sense to reach out and find community. A few clicks will lead you to an array of people who don’t eat meat, don’t wear fur, don’t wear leather or eat only raw foods. Trade ideas, get advice and just talk to people going through the same lifestyle change as you for motivation.

8. About Leather

Leather is expensive and if you already have a collection, it may be hard to part with — that's understandable. You can take it slowly.

As for buying new leather-like products, there are great alternatives like PVC and other cruelty-free leather substitutes. Having a vegan lifestyle does not only apply to your diet, but being mindful of animal-based products. 

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9. Audit Your Hair and Beauty Products

Yes, even your hair and beauty products might not be vegan. If you want to try avoiding animal-based beauty products, be sure to do your research about your other beauty regimens, such as keratin hair treatments. Instead, look for alternatives with vegan keratin like GRO Revitalizing Shampoo and Conditioner, which are fortified with Karmatin™, a microencapsulated vegan b-silk™ protein.

It might seem small, but switching to vegan shampoo and conditioner is an important part of becoming vegan — even for a month.

Enjoy the Ride

Our final piece of advice is, shamelessly pamper yourself while exploring the vegan lifestyle. Many people steer clear of even the thought of going vegan, because it can be a restrictive way to live, but modern alternatives in recent years have made it much easier.

But you can find pleasure in your limitations: a ripe blood orange in midwinter or a daily scalp massage in the shower. Whatever your vice, find something that's vegan but also enjoyable. It'll keep you on the path towards a more sustainable lifestyle for January and beyond.

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Photo credit: Ella Olsson/Pexels

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.