What Is Veganuary?

Lately I've heard a lot of buzz about the Vegan Diet, along with much chat about Veganuary. “What is Veganuary?” you might wonder. It's quite simple.

What Is Veganuary?

The word “Veganuary” is a combination of the words “vegan” and “January” and entails eating vegan for the month of January. Recently I read an article in the New York Times about it.

What Is The Vegan Diet?

The vegan diet is bigger than ever right now. This purely plant based diet excludes all animal products and goes one step further than the Vegetarian Diet, which is comprised of vegetables along with eggs and dairy. A vegan diet excludes all foods that come from animals including honey since it is produced by bees.

Can You Eat Fish On A Vegetarian Diet?

Fish is not part of a vegetarian diet, though I've met more than a couple of people who claim to be vegetarians that eat fish. Technically, the correct term for this would be pescatarian. Vegans definitely don't eat fish, or food derived from any living creature with eyes.

What Is Game Changers?

The vegan diet has made a huge splash of late, partly due to the release of Game Changers in September 2019. This documentary film about veganism promotes a diet free of all animal products for health reasons. While I think a plant based diet is fantastic, the movie has some flaws that I won't get into here. Needless to say, this film has propelled the vegan lifestyle to new heights.

Gluten-Free Vegan Cauliflower Wings

With the increasing popularity of the vegan diet over the last few years, you can now get items such as vegan wings. Yes, they're a thing. A vegan wing is simply battered cauliflower that tastes like a chicken wing, and it's served with a dipping sauce. I've never been a huge wings person, so not sure how I'd feel about cauliflower wings.

Rollin Greens

Next week I'm meeting with the founder of a local, Boulder based company called Rollin Greens that makes organic, gluten-free, vegan cauliflower wings. I bought some and heated them up for my husband and the Pantry boys, who loved them. What did I think? I went on a grain-free diet in 2001 and the wings are lightly coated in rice flour so not something that works for me. Still, the concept is compelling and the wings were loved by my family. Although a packaged food, the ingredient list is incredibly minimal and healthy, which I find very appealing.

Diet Trends Over The Decades

The simultaneous rise of the vegan diet and the keto diet is intriguing to me. I've been in the nutrition and health space for over a quarter century, researching special diets since the 1990s. During that time, I've seen a lot of trends come and go. What I've observed is that every single “fad” diet, no matter how seemingly divergent from the next, shares one common theme. Whether a raw foods, gluten-free, or keto diet, each of these plans excludes the highly processed junk food that makes up the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Are You A Junk Food Vegan?

I don't see anything wrong with the vegan diet. The main pitfall is becoming a vegan who lives on processed food. There is absolutely nothing healthy when it comes to highly processed foods, vegan or not. I refer to such people as junk food vegans. You can spot them because they're usually too skinny and very temperamental when it comes to discussing diet.

The Keto Vegan Diet

A great way to be vegan is to eliminate most processed foods and to scratch cook your food. I've been doing this for decades since my Ayurvedic training in the 1990s. If you're following a special diet, scratch cooking ensures that you can customize it to your own needs. If you're interested in following a low-carb vegan diet, check out my Keto Vegan Recipes.

The Best Diet For You

I don't believe in one-size-fits-all diets because we're all biochemical individuals with different nutritional needs. Have you found the diet that works best for you? How did you arrive at it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Your blog and recipes are integral to my life!

Comments

20 responses to “What Is Veganuary?”

  1. Hi Elana,

    I’ve made many of your recipes and followed you on-and-off for a few years now. My question is more related to grains and the impact it had on your health when you removed them. I read your post a while back about removing grains from your diet and how much of a difference it made and I was wondering on a day-to-day basis what this meant, starting with how you feel when you wake up.

    I’m interested because I have transitioned to paleo and then keto, then back to paleo but I felt really restricted because I had always been a vegetarian when I was younger. I was a vegetarian who actually eats vegetables though. I grew up in New Zealand and my mom made practically everything from scratch so I learned to love cooking as well. It seems to be more difficult to stay healthy in the U.S.
    As a second question, I would like to know if you would refer to gluten free sprouted oats as a processed food because I love oats but within the last year I have developed increased and unsurmountable fatigue to the point at which I sleep through my alarms most days. I’m wondering if grains had this type of impact on you and your energy levels because there are so few people (actually, no one outside of my immediate family) I interact with regularly who believes this is a feasible explanation for my chronic fatigue.
    It’s hard to eat animals, I feel a lot of guilt over it, and my stomach does not react well to nuts and seeds so keto vegan or grain free vegan is near impossible. I will stop now.

    Thank you for your recipes, they are delicious, nutritious and never take very long to prepare.

    Jackie

    • Jackie, thanks for your fantastic comment and questions! I’ve been off grains entirely since 2001, so probably not the best person to tell you about the day-to-day difference vis a vis consuming vs avoiding grains. Once, when I tried to add back one grain a couple of years after eliminating them, my leg went numb, so I never tried to add grains back again. I buy GF sprouted oats for boys and hubby, though do not eat them myself. LMK if I answered all your questions and if you need anything else, I’m happy to help :-)

  2. I’ve experimented with them all, and I didn’t stick to one or the other for various reasons. I prefer now to call my eating ‘a whole food approach as often as possible.’ My body needs some animal protein, although, for the sake of animals, I wish it didn’t. As much as possible I buy local and organic for when I do want it. Hubby is a meat eater and comments that I’m turning him into a vegetarian. LOL

    I’m not trying the veganuary, but yesterday I started the ‘only whole foods, no grains, and no sugar’ because over the holidays I failed and stuffed my face with chocolates, ‘healthy’ sweets, and processed grains. So, I am going back to paying attention to and eliminating as many foods that my body doesn’t process well.

    I had a client a few years ago, she had a daughter that had become a vegetarian, as we talked about it a little she told me that she referred to her daughter becoming a ‘carbitarian.’ I think people want to eat in a way that they believe in, but forget or don’t think about, that it involves learning healthy whole food choices as substitutes.

    • Denise, I love your approach! And same, my body also needs animal protein which bums me out. Yes, we know many carbitarians over here too. Thanks for being on this healing path with me :-)

  3. I couldn’t agree more regarding the junk food diet and the SAD (standard American diet). People who decide to “go” keto, vegetarian, gluten-free etc but who just switch in different highly processed foods because they think it’s more healthy drive me crazy. Most of what I cook is from scratch. I do use convenience foods like canned tomatoes because there are only so many hours in the day! But I can always tell when I am eating healthfully and when I am not. I feel so much better when I take the time to feed myself well.

  4. Do you answer e mails from folks in Canada Elana ? I use and enjoy many of your recipes and articles . I did send an email a few months ago and do not recall receiving a reply.
    Thank you
    Doris

  5. Veganuary is hugely popular over here in the UK. My husband and I have joined the movement this year to expand our creativity in cooking vegetables, and to see which animal products we do and don’t miss. Also, date night is extra fun – we look up vegan restaurants and try out a different one each week! Come February we’ll go back to eating meat, dairy and eggs, but I think in smaller quantities than before, and with greater appreciation for what they add to our meals.

  6. I have gone from Gluten Free to Keto to Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) with stops along the way. I have 5 autoimmune diseases, and boy have I changed kicking and screaming, but it is so worth it! The hardest of all was giving up ALL grains.

    You have been instrumental in my education. Reading your story gave me insight and encouragement. Please keep on with your ministry to us struggling with our illnesses. And please keep up your great recipes and insights.

    • Mary, wow! Thanks for inspiring me with your beautiful comment. I appreciate your sharing your story, as well as your wonderful words of praise and encouragement. So glad we are in this together :-)

  7. Elana, Thanks for this post. I was vegetarian for over 30 years and vegan for much of it. After much contemplation, I started eating small amounts of local, healthy meats 2 years ago (I actually started with bone broth, from your site). It was a health choice for me, and still is. It has certainly helped with blood sugar regulation and brain function (to name a few). I love a plant based diet and that is still the bulk of my diet to this day with minimal processed foods. I have also been in the health and nutrition world for decades, and seen a lot come and go. I was a dogmatic Vegetarian and thought it was the only way (both environmentally and health wise) – thankfully, I have matured and have a much wider view towards nutrition and our ecosystem! Your blog and recipes are integral to my life and I appreciate the heart felt effort and value you continue to share with us! Many thanks.

    • Lisa, what a wonderful comment on so many levels. First, it’s lovely to hear your self-reflection regarding how your diet has changed over the years. Second, your kind words, specifically those in which you say, “your blog and recipes are integral to my life,” has touched me deeply. Thanks for being on this path with me :-)

    • Steve, thanks for your comment! First, I am a huge proponent of a plant-based diet. But, one of the many flaws of the movie is that a number of the athletes who discuss improving performance by going vegan, were not eating a healthy diet prior to the switch, so it’s challenging to interpret this improvement. Was it due to eating vegetables, or due to eliminating junk food?

  8. My teenage daughter ask me after a family dinner what was going on when she looked at her sister-in-law and a cousin who were both vegetarian. One was over-weight and the other had become slender. My comment was one was a vegetable-tarian and the other was a junk-atarian. I went on to explain whole foods and cooking from scratch along with a good nutritional education were necessary to maintain good health.

    I as a diabetic use your recipes to make what carbs I eat count towards the my goal of good health.

    • Agree with Lisa, maturing and educating oneself is the best medicine for optimal health. I have been working on an airplane for 40 years, and have the opportunity to observe the eating/drinking habits of numerous people of all ages, and from different countries, over a period of 8-11 hours.

      It is pretty sad. I can generally just look at a passenger, and pretty much know what type of meal and beverage option will be chosen. The vegans are either teenage kids, (often traveling with parents who allow this), or young adults, 20-30. I observe more vegans are from countries outside the US, than Americans. IF they have brought food with them, it is generally carbohydrate loaded processed and preserved foods, laden with grains and bad oils, NOT raw or gently cooked vegetables, nuts or seeds. To supplement, they help themselves to the many junk food options located in baskets set up after the meal service in the airplane galleys.

      One can argue that most folks don’t eat well when traveling, but I suspect much of what I see represents how they eat at home as well. It doesn’t take much time, (or space in your carry on bag) to include in your packing a variety of very healthy food options, and teabags you can cold brew in a bottle of water. One will feel much better after the flight if they take the time to do so. NOTE: canned and carton fruit juices are not healthy options!

      If I feel I can take the opportunity to interact with a vegan, I like to ask how they came about making this lifestyle decision. If the response is other than a blank stare, I find they have fallen victim to much of the dis-information regarding health and environmental issues, or they just love animals. For the latter, I can at least point out that ethically produced eggs and cheeses do not harm any animals, simply seek out and support only those types of food producers.

      I was most surprised by the CDC doctor, who, for 8-9 hours was consuming mass quantities of diet coke. On the last beverage service I finally asked him, “As a doctor, do you really think drinking Diet Coke is a good idea?” He sheepishly responded, “No, but I am addicted”. Yikes!

      These kids are our future generation, and these doctors are the ones who help author government guidelines regarding proper nutrition! So, it is my hope these kids will “mature” and properly educated themselves before doing too much damage to their health. Fortunately, there is more GOOD information out there now, than in days past, and science has evolved for the better as well. The problem is getting more of the good science to be adopted by the mainstream.

      I have always cooked from scratch for the most part, and Elana, your website and recipes are awesome. I appreciate your dedication and hard work. Your recipes help me keep going in the right direction by being delicious, filling, and easy to prepare. I do pass your information along to anybody who is responsive!

      • Beth, wow! Wow, wow, wow! You are in a position to be one of the ultimate collectors of anecdotal evidence and I love it! Thanks for sharing all your amazing observations here :-)

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