Veganuary, Veganism, & Beyond. What You Need to Know.


‘Veganuary’ is likely something that your friends, family or co-workers might put into practice each January. Over the years in the month of January more and more people have begun to commit to following a fully vegan diet, with many continuing to follow their new diet once the month is up.

Indeed, Vegan and plant-based diets are on the rise - the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, with increased interest in ‘Flexitarian’ diets for those that swore they could never live without meat. In 2018, 92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK were eaten by non-vegans!

In the sporting world, more and more pro-athletes began to opt for a vegan lifestyle, proving that a carnivore diet is not required to perform at the highest level. Take CrossFit superstar and WIT athlete Sara Sigmundsdóttir for instance, who now follows a fully vegan diet. So with the month of veganism upon us, we have teamed up with Fresh Fitness Food's team of nutritionists to help you to explore Veganuary, the benefits, drawbacks and what you need to know.  


Amongst a huge number of other things that happened in 2020, one small positive change was that all UK supermarkets launched a plant-based or vegan range, and every major UK eatery introduced a plant-based or vegan offering. For those that have been living off portobello mushroom burgers and chips while eating out for the past few years, this is a huge win.


But what do the terms ‘plant-based’, ‘vegan’ and ‘flexitarian’ mean?


A vegan is someone who omits all animal products from their diet, and sometimes even their lifestyle, for example, not buying leather goods, or using cosmetic products that have been tested on animals.

A plant-based diet, to no surprise, is one that is predominantly based around eating plants. ‘Plant-based’ is not synonymous with vegan or vegetarian - you can include meat and animal products in a plant-based diet but the focus is on including plants. For example, using cheese to garnish a meal, rather than basing a meal around cheese.

A flexitarian is as the name says, a flexible approach to the diet, with no strict rules but a focus on an increase in plant based meals.  

What are the benefits of a vegan diet?

There are many benefits of adopting a vegan diet, including to your health and the environment.

Saturated Fats

Vegan diets are considerably lower in saturated fats. Saturated fats are associated with raised levels of non-HDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which leads to an increased risk of heart disease. 


Vegan diets (at least the more plant-based ones, not ‘vegan junk’), tend to be higher in fibre than typical meat-based diets. This is because there is a greater intake of fruits, vegetables and pulses in the diet, which are some of the most prominent sources of fibre. Fibre is vital in your diet, it is incredibly important for gut health and feeding our good gut bacteria, linked to various health outcomes,metabolism and even mental health. Fibre also helps normalise bowel movement and maintain bowel health, which help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, and can help lower cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, which respectively reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.


Vegan diets are said to have the lowest carbon footprint, closely followed by vegetarian diets.


With increasing Vegan choice in the market, there is also an increasing amount of 'vegan junk' on offer. Don't be fooled into thinking that because something is vegan it is healthy.

And what are the drawbacks?

As with everything, there are benefits and drawbacks to a vegan diet. Most tend to worry about protein, as vegan sources often contain less protein and are not ‘complete’ proteins required for protein synthesis. 

Those partaking in intense strength or endurance training require around 1.2-2.0g protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day e.g. around 90-150g for a 75kg person, which is certainly achievable through a vegan diet, by combining pulses e.g. kidney beans, vegetables and protein sources like tempeh and tofu.

From our experience at Fresh Fitness Food, those that undergo strength training tend to supplement their diet with a protein shake (typically 20-25g protein). In this case, it’s easy to swap your whey shake, for a vegan shake instead.

Amino Acids

It is also important to be aware of your amino acid intake - there are 20-22 different amino acids commonly found in plant and animal proteins. Nine of these are considered ‘essential’, meaning the human body cannot synthesise them from scratch, and they, therefore, must be obtained from the diet - these are commonly sourced from animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Animal sources of proteins contain all the essential amino acids required by the body. 

Vegans can ensure they receive all the essential amino acids by getting a variety of different sources of plant protein, for example  peanut butter, is not a complete protein and is low in the muscle building amino acid ‘leucine’ - however combined with a carbohydrate source, such as a wholewheat bread together they become a ‘complete’ protein.

There are also a number of vegan sources of complete protein, such as quinoa, buckwheat and soybeans, but it is great to vary your food sources where possible so that you are consuming other essential nutrients. 


Vegan diets may improve your health with an increase in nutrients and antioxidants, however it does also lack certain micronutrients: iodine, selenium, Vitamin B12, calcium and iron to name a few of the most important that may be lacking. It is certainly possible to get in your vegan diet, look out for fortified foods, or a vegan protein shake with added vitamins, or to be sure, you can take supplements. 

Vegan diets are great for the environment, animal welfare and our health, and if you know what to prioritise with your diet, there’s no reason why you aren’t able to continue, and even better your training. 


Fresh Fitness Food offer daily delivery of full prepped meals from a range of personalised meal plans that can be vegan, veggie and now also offering a flexitarian plan

Use WIT50 for £50 off a trial order NOW.

Written by Megan Foulhsam, Nutritionist, Fresh Fitness Food