How to Make the Most Out of Veganuary 2023

Dr. Matthew NagraArticles, Plant-based Diet, Tips, Vegan Protein, Veganuary

Image of "Veganuary" calendar with vegetables surrounding

January is just around the corner. While the new year means a fresh start for many, it only makes sense to introduce some fresh new foods as well. And what better way to kick off 2023 than with a 31-day vegan health challenge?

While some people sign up for the gym or practice “Dry January” by ditching alcohol for the month, hundreds of thousands remove the animal products from their life by trying Veganuary (vegan January). This worldwide campaign encourages people to adopt a plant-based diet for the first month of the new year to improve their health, the health of the environment, and of course, to save countless animals who would otherwise be subjected to the practices of the animal agriculture industry. In 2022, Veganuary had over 620,000 participants and 2023 is expected to be an even bigger success. To officially join the challenge and gain access to countless resources, you can sign up for free Veganuary here.

So, if you are ready to kickstart your health, learn new recipes, find simple and delicious food swaps, and become a more sustainable consumer, Veganuary is for you. Here’s how you can make the most out of your month-long, plant-based challenge!

Food Swaps

There has been a shift in the past decade where consumers are craving plant-based alternatives. This has led to a plethora of options when it comes to vegan food options. Here are some simple swaps you can make during Veganuary (and beyond):

Cow’s Milk

It’s rare to find a café or restaurant these days that doesn’t have a plant-based alternative for cow’s milk. There are so many great and delicious options available in grocery stores all throughout Canada. My favourite is fortified soy milk as it tends to be the most nutritious plant milk option; however, you can also choose oat, almond, rice, cashew, pea, macadamia, and many other plant-based milk alternatives. However, it’s important to make sure it is fortified with calcium at the very least.


There are many crafty ways to swap animal protein sources for plant-based alternatives. Plus, many offer the same texture, flavour, and consistency to really lend that familiar mouthfeel. Tofu and tempeh are a great substitute as they contain significant amounts of both protein and iron – two essential nutrients. Seitan, a food made from wheat-based protein, is also an excellent option and can have a similar protein content to even lean cuts of meat. For ease, you can buy plant-based meat alternatives in ready-to-cook form. From ground to patty to meatball form, grocery stores nowadays are stocked with simple meat-free options. To get started, try this Sweet N’ Sour Vegan Meatball dish or this versatile and budget-friendly Vegan Seitan recipe.


Do you love a savory omelet breakfast? Maybe you do a lot of baking at home and know that eggs are key to many great recipes. Luckily, every problem has a solution. For a high protein breakfast without the egg, this Easy Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Burrito packs flavour, nutrition, and plant-based goodness. You can also use Just Egg as an easy swap. When baking, you can swap the chicken’s egg for a chia egg, flax egg, or silken tofu without compromising the end result. Many bakers like combining mashed banana and apple sauce in lieu of an egg; however, this doesn’t carry the same protein punch as the previous egg alternatives.


Craving something creamy? Make your own vegan alternative using cashews, macadamia nuts, tofu (like this Vegan Tofu Cheese recipe), almonds (insert 5-Minute Vegan Parmesan), or buy it off the shelf. Tofu and nut-based cheeses can be added to salads and sandwiches, spread on crackers, or enjoyed solo. While nut-based cheeses deliver flavour and texture, many off-the-shelf products made with coconut oil come with a high saturated fat content. So, if you don’t want to sacrifice indulgence for health, the nut-based cheeses tend to be healthier.

Health Benefits

More and more people are discovering the health benefits of going plant based. Even those who couldn’t imagine giving up their favourite foods for 31 days continue to choose vegan foods long after Veganuary ends. Why? For one, plant-based foods can be delicious. Once people overcome the fear of trying something new, they’re hooked with the endless possibilities a plant-based diet provides. Secondly, the health benefits. A plant-based diet can lead to healthier blood sugar levels, weight loss, lower cholesterol, and disease prevention (including type 2 diabetes and heart disease).

Now, it’s important to note that cutting out animal-based foods does not automatically make a person healthy. While a reduction in these foods certainly helps, it’s the addition of nutritionally dense and health-promoting foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruit, soy, and healthy fat sources such as nuts, avocado, and seeds that make the biggest difference.

Environmental Benefits

Not only can a plant-based diet benefit your body’s health, but the environment’s health too, which is an important consideration given that it would be near impossible to meet our climate targets without a shift in the global food system. It has been shown repeatedly that plant-based diets are far more environmentally friendly than omnivorous diets, in large part due to the significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions from meat and dairy production, and that’s one of the reasons that the latest Canada Food Guide emphasizes choosing plant-based protein sources over animal sources.

Furthermore, according to data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, results showed that participants who consumed more healthy, plant-based foods were responsible for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower cropland, irrigation water, and nitrogenous fertilizer use. Whereas diets that were higher in animal-based foods, particularly red and processed meat, had higher levels of negative environmental impacts. In fact, a 2021 study found that 57% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by food production come from animal-based foods, while beef alone was responsible for 25% of emissions and all plant-based foods together were responsible for 29%. However, the estimates can vary depending on the methods used in the studies, but these estimates are fairly consistent with the rest of the literature.


So, we have covered some of the potential benefits of veganism. Now, it is time to explore the fun new recipes that await. There is so much room for creativity when it comes to plant-based foods. It is truly baffling how innovative people can be when coming up with new ways to enjoy vegan foods. A couple of my favourite resources to find new vegan recipes are Desiree Nielsen and PlantYou. Both websites are full of free recipes, from 15-Minute Meals to Sushi Inspired Rice Balls to Raspberry Dark Chocolate Magnum Bars, you’ll never be short for options.

Want to learn more about eating plant-based?

The idea of converting to a plant-based diet might seem overwhelming. But millions of people have successfully done it, and with the correct knowledge and support, the transition can be made so much smoother. Book an appointment with me or join Dr. Nagra’s Nutrition Community to gain access to a private community with like-minded individuals and weekly live discussions with Dr. Nagra. If you’re on a journey to better health, I’m here to support you.