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A Beginner's Guide to Veganuary with Simple Tips

A beginner's guide to veganuary with tips, product ideas, ready meals and simple recipes.


We were a vegetarian family for over two decades, starting back when Graham and I met as students and started going out. Long, long before Cooper was born.

Student living

During my student days I lived on homemade baked potatoes and macaroni cheese (my mum taught me how to make a cheese sauce before I left home), shop bought salads (does anyone remember the salad bar in Littlewoods?) and takeaway pizza.

Having your own kitchen

Once Graham and I moved in together and I had my own kitchen I decided it was about time I taught myself to cook properly and so I began experimenting in the kitchen and back in 2007 my blog was born.

Kale and Cashew Pesto Spaghetti

Moving to a vegan diet

Roll on a decade and Graham decided he wanted to move to a vegan diet. He'd talked about it for a while, but it took him a while to take the plunge. Back then of course there were none of all the convenience foods, and plethora of vegan ingredients there are now. If you were lucky you would find some apple sweetened soya milk and some vile smelling vegan cheeses that no one in their right mind should have every put anywhere near their mouth. Needless to say he failed. He just found it too hard.

Roll on another few years and he tried again. This time I was determined to help him as much as I could and there was a lot more choice out there.  He's now been vegan for 10 years and I cook a mainly vegan diet for us (completely vegan for him). Cooper and I mainly eat vegan, but we haven't made the full swap yet. Well this is certainly the month to do it.

Puy Lentil and Mushroom Vegan Sausages

Vegan basics

There are so many vegan products out there. Some made especially for vegans and some that are accidentally vegan. Whichever category, there is plenty of choice.

Here are my tips for products to stock up on to help you sail through this month.



Violife are our favourite brand. They make cheeses the regular way but use the humble coconut (no they don't taste of coconut) instead of regular milk.

Violife cheddar is mild, but it melts well. They have lots of varieties of this now, but we use the basics. This cheddar comes in a block or slices. It's good on sandwiches or grated into a cheese sauce.

Violife mozzarella melts well but actually we prefer the grated vegan mozzarella from Tesco.

Their parmesan (prosociano) is amazing, it has that real tang of Parmesan, the right texture and tastes great. It's a good way of adding extra flavour to dishes.

Their cream cheese is good too. 


Graham's favourite brand is either Oatly or Koko (drinking coconut milk). I like oatly, but sometimes used almond milk in recipes


I use either Oatly or Alpro soya single cream. They are good for dessserts and adding cream to sauces. You can making a cracking mushrooms sauce using either of these. Oatly also do a really good creme fraiche which I also add to a mushroom sauce.


Alpro all the way, they do a fabulous custard. Eat it with dessert or just with a spoon.


There are some many types of vegan yoghurt now and they are all pretty good especially the flavoured ones. Most supermarkets offer their own range now. I use Alpro plain for cooking.

Vegan Roast Vegetable, Pesto and Cream Cheese Pizza

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A beginner's guide to veganuary with tips, product ideas, ready meals and simple recipes. #veganuary #vegantips #vegandiet #veganreadymeals #veganproducts #veganmeals #veganrecipes

Doing Veganuary the easy way

The only way you will succeed at Veganuary is to keep it simple and to plan. How many of your meals are already vegan? If you are already vegetarian you will find a lot naturally are and even if you aren't vegetarian I bet there are still a few in your repertoire.

Soups are usually vegan unless they are creamy and watch out for stocks if you aren't making it yourself. Tomato sauce for pasta is a good place to start and you can add extra veg. Stir fries are easily vegan and dal is vegan and a good way of getting protein, then there are salads too.

If you are making pizza, either skip the cheese or add a vegan mozzarella and many pizza restaurants offer vegan cheese now or you can just as for it without cheese and load up on the veggies.

Baked beans, veggie sausages, veggie sausage rolls and falafel are good store cupboard and freezer standbys. We like Linda McCartney sausages, Tesco mini veggie sausages rolls and Cauldron falafel.

Here are a few ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks. I have included shop bought as well as simple recipes.

How to cook a full vegan breakfast

Vegan Breakfast

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals of the day. Check out my post how to cook a full vegan breakfast for ideas and a simple recipe for tattie (potato) scones.

  1. Cereal and milk (your choice of dairy free)
  2. Porridge made with dairy-free milk (I like cooking it with some cinnamon and raisins, then adding a sliced or mashed banana at the end.
  3. Toast with dairy free spread and jam
  4. Toast and baked beans
  5. Toast with mashed banana
  6. Toast with mushrooms (sauteed well with lots of black pepper and a little salt)
  7. Toast spread with peanut butter and topped with a sliced banana
  8. Toasted cinnamon bagels with vegan cream cheese
  9. Toasted teacakes spread with dairy free spread
  10. Veggie sausages and beans
  11. A green smoothie
  12. Pain au Chocolat (Jus Roll tubes of pain au chocolat are vegan)
  13. Fresh croissants with dairy free spread and jam (Jus Roll again)
  14. Dairy-free plain yoghurt, fruit and a little maple syrup to sweeten
  15. A full cooked breakfast, choosing from potato scones, fried potato slices, grilled tomatoes, sauteed or grilled mushrooms, baked beans, veggie sausages, wilted spinach and toast. See above for tips and potato scones recipe.

Spiced Chickpea and Carrot Sandwich

Vegan Lunch

  1. Carrot batons and hummus
  2. Oatcakes or crispbreads with hummus and slices of tomato and cucumber
  3. Soup (my favourite is carrot, lentil and spinach or my fridge lentil soup) and a roll or crusty bread
  4. Sandwiches (on wholemeal bread)
    1. Grated carrot,  hummus and baby spinach
    2. Hummus, falafel, grated carrot and mango chutney
    3. Peanut butter and strawberry jam
    4. Peanut butter and sliced banana
    5. Vegan cream cheese and crisps (oh yeah baby!)
    6. Vegan cream cheese and cucumber
    7. Vegan cheddar slices, salad and pickled baby beets, sliced
    8. Falafel and roasted red pepper (from a jar), spread with vegan cream cheese on one side and harissa paste on the other, add some salad too
    9. Falafel and Apple Sandwich
    10. My Ultimate Vegan Sandwich
    11. Spiced Chickpea and Carrot Sandwich Filler
    12. Hummus, leftover cooked veggies sausages and onion chutney
  5. Pasta Salad (our favourites are creamy chestnut mushroom and fresh herb pasta salad, tomato and corn pasta salad or summer Greek pasta salad.
  6. Salad
  7. Easy couscous salad
  8. Mini spinach and cream cheese or baked bean and cheese pastries
  9. Vegan sandwiches from M&S, Tesco, Aldi anf Lidl.
  10. Veggie sausages rolls or pasties (check out your local health food shop chiller)

Extra Veg Vegan Shepherds Pie

Vegan Dinner

I have included some simple meal ideas, recipes and some supermarket short cuts to get you started. Enough for the whole of January

  1. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognaise (check out my post 10 best ever vegan pasta recipes)
  2. Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, chilli flakes, grated vegan Parmesan and sliced olives (optional)
  3. Pasta and tomato sauce
  4. Spaghetti with free-from pesto (we like Sacla)
  5. Vegan Shepherd's Pie
  6. Beetroot burgers (from M&S) stacked high on a roll with salad and burger relish
  7. Toastie with salad (fill with baked beans and vegan cheddar; vegan cheddar and red onion or veggie haggis and onion chutney)
  8. Soup and crusty bread (check out my soup recipe page)
  9. Full cooked breakfast for dinner (see above)
  10. Easy spinach and coconut dal with toasted wholemeal pitta bread
  11. Tesco Wicked enchiladas with salad
  12. Goodfella's Vegan Falafel Pizza with a green salad
  13. Birds Eye Frozen Veggie Bowls
  14. ASDA Vegetarian Mediterranean Vegetable Gnocchi
  15. Creamy mushroom and leek risotto
  16. Frozen veggie fingers (most supermarkets sell their own) with potato wedges and beans
  17. Sainsburys Lentil Cottage Pie
  18. Sainsburys Sweet Potato Katsu Curry & Rice
  19. Veggie sausages rolls (Linda McCartney), chips and beans
  20. Cheats veggie haggis neeps and tatties burgers (You won't believe this recipe, it's become a legend and takes minutes. A two year old could make these).
  21. Chip shop battered tofu with chips and peas
  22. Three Bean Chilli - serve it on tortilla wraps spread with oatly creme fraiche, topped with salad leaves, then the chilli, grated vegan cheddar or serve it with rice or a baked potato. My husband also likes it with mashed potato
  23. Sticky red onion and sausage bake with gravy, serve with mash and veg.
  24. Easy Mediterranean tarts made with ready rolled puff pastry, serve with roast potatoes and veg.
  25. Easy cauliflower macaroni cheese or my slow cooker mac and cheese served with vegetables
  26. Veggie sausage and white bean casserole serve with mash and veg
  27. 10 minute spicy bean burgers, piled high in buns with all the trimmings
  28. Cheesy vegetable puff pie serve with roast potatoes and green veg
  29. Richly braised lentils serve with mash and veg
  30. Pizza stuffed mushrooms (use vegan mozzarella) serve with roast potatoes and veg
  31. Meze or buffet as my son calls it, chopped up crunchy veg and salad, hummus, crusty bread, falafel, crisps, olives, pickled baby beets, pickled onions. Just help yourself!

Sin-free chocolate mousse

Vegan Dessert

You don't need to miss out on dessert either, there is plenty of choice in the shops and I've thrown in a few ideas and recipes too.

  1. Ben & Jerry's vegan ice cream
  2. Mollys Apple Crumble (Tesco) hot with Alpro custard or dairy-free vanilla ice cream
  3. Sin-free chocolate mousse, whizzed up in minutes
  4. Fruit salad, served with alpro or oatly single cream
  5. Mr Kipling Apple and Blackcurrant pies serve cold or hot with Alpro custard
  6. Asda free-from caramel rice squares
  7. Easy chocolate chip banana bread
  8. Dark chocolate magic pudding, serve hot with vegan ice cream or custard
  9. Tesco free-from strawberry and vanilla cones (just like Cornettos)
  10. M&S made without dairy chocolate and caramel sticks (like choc ices on a stick)

Magic Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Sweet Treats

  1. Vego bars are like nutella in a chocolate bar with whole hazelnuts, get them at your local health food shop, MMMMM!
  2. Most supermarket home brand bourbons
  3. Mollys digestives (Tesco)
  4. McVities Hobnobs
  5. Oreos
  6. Borland Fig Rolla
  7. Frys Chocolate Creams
  8. Veggie jelly sweets from M&S, lots to choose from including veggie Percy's
  9. Rowntree's jelly tots
  10. Skittles

I hope that helps. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or email me, I am always happy to help.

For more of my favourite vegan products, check out my food guide, best 60 vegan and dairy-free products (UK).


  1. This is a great list - really appreciate all your simple ideas - though wish we had the range in Australia that you have in the UK - I love all your sandwich ideas - that is what I need to improve on - I have found that coleslaw is great with some nut roast and chutney in a sarnie but don't have both around enough. I didn't realise it has been 10 years since Graham went vegan - that is fantastic - we eat a lot of vegan but not exclusively.

    1. Yes we are really lucky here. More and more products every day. I hope you enjoy the sandwiches and yes the 10 years has gone in a flash.

  2. I am a bit nervous about joining in with veganuary, but I am going to try some of your ideas and recipes and have at least a couple of vegan days a week. Jill

    1. Starting including a few meals a week is a great way to start and much more sensible.

  3. I love this blog post, so helpful for beginners. I have really been thinking about possibly taking the leap myself. This was very helpful.

    1. Thanks Heidy, I was trying to make it as easy as possible.

  4. This is certainly a healthy way to start off the year! I will have to try this!

  5. That is such an informative post for someone who does not know where to start. Great guide for how to start living a vegan life :)

  6. This is so helpful! I feel like vegan eating can be intimidating when you're just getting started--this is a nice breakdown for those of us new to the diet.

    1. Yes if can be intimidating if you don't know where to start. It took us a while to get used to it all and discover what was good and what to avoid.

  7. With a vegan daughter I can't have eough inspirations for tasty plant-based recipes. Thank you for your extensive list. Great tip regarding Alpro and custard!

    1. I am so glad it was helpful and yes do try that custard.


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