Doing the Veganuary thing this year? You’ve come to the right place. 
 
As a plant-based dietitian who has also written a couple of plant-based cookbooks, I know a thing or two about making healthy plant-based recipes that are also really yummy and fun to eat. And with all of the awful fad diets out there at this time of year, it makes me so excited to see folks choose a positive and non-restrictive start to a new year. I’ve got everything you need to get started on your Veganuary journey here in this blog post…so let’s do it!

chard leaf with cut lemon, peach and grapes

Eating a vegan or plant-based diet is filled with flavour and possibility and it helps make a positive impact on the environment as well as animals. Anything you like to eat can be made from plants...and I’ve got the yummy vegan recipes to prove it!

It’s SO easy to go vegan in 2023, especially with all of the incredible new plant-based alternatives out there. I’ve got everything you need to get started on your Veganuary journey here in this blog post…so let’s do it!

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a month-long vegan challenge each January, created by a non-profit organization to help encourage folks to give vegan living a try. It’s a great way to dip a toe into the world of plant-based eating in a fun and supported way even if you’re not ready to go vegan long term. And it’s growing: in 2022, over 600,000 people from 220 countries gave it a go! I can’t wait to see how many of us make it happen in 2023, and these Veganuary recipe ideas will help you love what you’re eating.

Vegan vs Plant-based

I get a lot of questions about what a vegan diet is versus a plant-based diet and I have to admit that the words get used so interchangeably that it is kind of confusing. People also define them differently (ARGH!) which makes things worse. So here’s my two cents!

  • Vegan: A vegan diet is 100% free of animal products, sometimes including honey. Some folks choose to just eat a vegan diet but more often, folks adhere to a fully vegan lifestyle, eliminating wool, leather and other animal derived ingredients from their home and personal care products.
  • Plant-based: In my opinion, there are two main ways to look at a plant-based diet. The first is someone who eats mostly plants – perhaps 80% or more – but also still includes some animal products such as the occasional fish or egg. The other popular definition is derived from the whole food plant based movement, which means that while the diet is 100% free of animal products, there is a focus on eating actual whole plant foods for health.

As an example, oreos are vegan…but they aren’t really made from whole plants. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to the word vegan for non-vegan consumers, a lot of vegan products are now simply referred to as plant-based even though they aren’t whole foods.

I’m not much of a fan of labels, because we each get to define the best way for us to eat. Myself? I like the plant-based label for a couple of reasons: the first, was that it took me a long time to transition from vegetarian to vegan so plant-based felt inclusive to me. And I like inclusive. Secondly, while I don’t adhere rigidly to whole food plant based (and I’m not sure that most people should) I do focus on eating mostly actual whole plant foods.

Health Benefits of Going Vegan or Plant-based

There are so many reasons why someone might want to go vegan or plant-based…and not all of them have to do with nutrition! You might want to do your part for climate change or help animals. Of course, regardless of your why, there real health benefits to taking the plant-based path.

  • Improved gut health Plant foods are high in not just fiber, but indigestible carbohydrates such as FODMAPs and resistant starch that help feed the gut microbiome and improve digestive health.
  • Improved energy levels When you are eating nutrient-dense whole foods, your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to help it thrive, while also getting supportive phytonutrients that help squelch oxidative damage and fight inflammation.
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease Plant-based diets contain fewer saturated fats and added sugars, more fibre and more naturally occurring phytochemicals and appear to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease in the research. A healthy plant-based diet may also decrease your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
  • May improve blood sugars and diabetes Whole food-focused plant-based diets have been associated with a lower risk of diabetes, as well as potentially improving blood sugar control with diabetes.
  • Decreased risk of certain cancers Plant-based diets are associated with decreased risk of some cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer

Veganuary Tips + Tricks

I know you’re stoked on getting started, but a month is a long time…so let’s set ourselves up for success, shall we? In addition to saving all your fave veganuary recipes, you’re going to need a little advice on how to make these changes stick. Read on for some veganuary tips from an actual registered dietitian who knows her lentils from her chickpeas..

  • Stock your pantry before the month starts If it’s not in your cupboard or fridge, how are you going to eat it? Check out this list of plant-based proteins, because it’s probably going to be the biggest change to how you eat (assuming you already eat fruits and veg of course!). Ensure that you always have 3-4 different protein sources on hand for easy meals. Choose a few whole grains to have on hand. And, stock your pantry with some easy quick meals like whole wheat pasta with a marinara sauce or baked beans in tomato sauce.
  • Do some batch prep  Don’t have much time to cook? Not to worry! Set aside a bit of time on the weekend to cook 1-2 whole grains, 1-2 proteins and chop up some fruit and veg to make weeknight cooking easier. Cooked legumes and whole grains can be frozen, so cook in large batches so you’ll have weeks of supplies. If you prefer, you could batch prep whole meals instead – I have some vegan meal prep recipes below.
  • Look for plant-based versions of your everyday favourites You don’t have to remake how you eat this month! Instead, find plant-based recipes for the foods you already love, such as burgers, curries or pizza. You’ll also want to find non-dairy milks, cheese and meat alternatives that suit your taste buds and your budget.
  • Create a balanced plant-based plate to cover your nutritional bases A healthy vegan meal has the same components as an omnivore meal…we just get our nutrients from plants! As a simple formula, think of covering half of your plate in fruits and vegetables; a quarter of your plate in whole grains and the last quarter of your plate in protein foods like lentils. Protein foods and dairy alternatives will offer important minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.
  • When you go vegan, you’ll also need a B12 supplement and we all need to take our vitamin D.
  • Sign up for a supportive community this month Be sure to sign up at Veganuary for support…and I also have a free online community called Nutrition with Desiree

35 Nourishing Veganuary Recipes for 2023

Now the best part: what to eat!!! This blog is filled with tons of healthy vegan recipes that are super tasty, but I wanted to create this little collection of veganuary recipe ideas so you could easily bookmark it to use all month long.

Veganuary Breakfast Ideas

When you eat a balanced breakfast, it helps you stay full and energized throughout your morning! These yummy breakfast ideas for Veganuary will get your morning started right.

5-Minute Blackberry Pie Overnight Oats

Blackberry Pie Overnight Oats

5 from 2 ratings
These blackberry overnight oats take just 5 minutes to prep and are filled high fibre plant foods to help keep your gut feeling great! Vegan, gluten free and nut free option.
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bagel with chickpea egg, spinach and avocado

Vegan Breakfast Sandwich with Chickpea Flour Eggs

5 from 4 ratings
This vegan breakfast sandwich is packed with healthy, nourishing ingredients. Made with chickpea flour “eggs,” vegan cheese, spinach, sprouted grain bread, and more, this is an amazing savory plant-based breakfast. It’s quick and easy to make too — you just need 20 minutes!
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Close up of Registered Dietitian Desiree Nielsen's Chickpea Scramble with Toast and Avocado on Plate

Easy Protein-Packed Chickpea Scramble

4.60 from 20 ratings
This filling, fibre and protein-packed chickpea scramble takes less than ten minutes to make and will keep you energized all morning long. Brunch it up by serving with roasted potatoes, fresh fruit and all the fixings!
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Vegan Soups, Curries and Stews

Pumpkin Miso Soup

4 from 3 ratings
Want to jump on that PSL bandwagon but looking for something a bit more savoury? This Pumpkin Miso Soup is perfect for sweater weather!
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bowl of chickpea coconut milk curry with wheat berries and black spoon

Easy Chickpea Coconut Milk Curry with Broccoli

4.86 from 7 ratings
This chickpea and broccoli coconut milk curry is a delicious vegan curry recipe. It’s nutritious, packed with protein, flavourful, and so simple to make at home!
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Easy Vegan Lunch Recipes for Veganuary

I have to admit, that my usual lunch is leftovers…but if that’s not your thing, I’ve got a few yummy (and easy!) vegan lunch ideas to get you through Veganuary.

hands holding vegan egg salad sandwich on white plate

Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich (low FODMAP)

5 from 3 ratings
This vegan low FODMAP egg salad sandwich is utterly craveable and comes together even faster than traditional egg salad! Just 10 minutes to make and 10 ingredients or less.
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Putting together Registered Dietitian Desiree Nielsen's Chickpea Sandwich

5-Minute Vegan Chickpea Tuna

5 from 6 ratings
With all the flavour you crave, these comforting vegan chickpea tuna sandwiches are so easy to make and high in filling fibre and plant-based protein.
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  • Easy Vegan Pasta Salad I LOVE a pasta salad, because it’s filling, nourishing and so adaptable: it helps use use whatever is in your fridge at the moment.
  • Pumpkin Hummus Toasts with Za’atar If you love avocado toast, try a hummus toast. It’s super easy to make your own hummus (5 min!) at the start of the week, then you can enjoy these hummus toasts with some sliced veggies and chips as an easy lunch.
  • Edamame Sesame Dip with Miso Need a change from hummus? Try this protein-packed edamame dip with sliced veggies, crackers and some vegan cheese for an easy snack style lunch

Filling Vegan Salads

The secret to a meal-sized salad? Don’t forget the protein and maybe some whole grains! Make any salad more of a meal by adding roasted chickpeas or sliced smoked tofu, or leftover cooked grains such as brown rice, pasta or quinoa.

cobb salad with serving spoons and water glass

Vegan Cobb Salad with The BEST Dressing

5 from 3 ratings
This easy vegan Cobb salad recipe features the best tangy red wine vinaigrette dressing and salty, smoky, marinated tempeh bacon! With loads of chopped veggies, it's a great nutrient-packed lunch or dinner.
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Protein-rich Vegan Dinners

spinach quesadilla on a plate with black fork, jar of pesto and cashew cream

Protein-Packed Vegan White Bean & Spinach Quesadilla

4.87 from 15 ratings
These cheesy, creamy vegan quesadillas with white bean and spinach are flavourful, filling and take just 10 minutes to make! It’s an easy and nourishing meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
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stuffed acorn squash on baking sheet

Vegan Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

5 from 1 rating
This cozy, comforting plant-based main is packed with 10 different plants and plenty of plant-based protein. Perfect for Sunday dinner, or a special holiday meal!
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Whole Food Plant based Snacks

Some folks are snackers, others less so. Because you’re new to vegan eating, having some nutrient-dense snacks on hand will help you be the Veganuary hungries. Choose legumes, nuts and seeds often for their plant-based protein and healthy fats.

chickpeas on baking sheet with spoon

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas with Everything Bagel Spice

These crispy roasted chickpeas are SO easy to make and super flavourful! Just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep, they're high in filling fibre and protein and a perfect snack for everyday.
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glass jar of Trader Joe's trail mix

Trader Joe’s Trail Mix (Copycat Recipe)

4.75 from 4 ratings
In love with Trader Joe’s Trail Mix? Make your own (healthier!) Omega Trek Mix in just 20 minutes…it’s that same salty-sweet mix you love, with less sugar and more omega 3 fatty acids per serving!
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winter kale panzanella salad with squash and pomegranate in black bowl

35+ Veganuary Recipes: Winter Panzanella Salad

This winter panzanella salad has plenty of cozy winter flavour, with crispy sprouted grain croutons, roasted squash and sweet-tart pomegranate and cranberries.
5 from 16 ratings
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups torn or cubed bread, I like sprouted grain, or gluten free if needed
  • 1 pound delicata or acorn squash, sliced into 1 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch tuscan (lacinato) kale, tough stem removed, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 1 batch Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place squash on one half of sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of oil, a pinch of salt and some pepper.
  • Roast for 10 minutes, remove from heat and flip squash. In a medium bowl, toss bread with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of oil, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet with squash. Roast for 10-12 minutes more until squash is tender, and bread is toasted and crisp at the edges. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Place kale in a salad bowl. Drizzle over a third of the creamy balsamic dressing and massage kale until it softens and wilts a bit.
  • Top with toasted bread, squash, onion, pomegranate and cranberries. Drizzle with a bit more dressing, and serve with remaining dressing.
  • Will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Notes

The flavour of this recipe really varies depending on the ingredients. If your lemon has a thicker skin with thick white pith, it could be a bit bitter. A tiny pinch of sugar will balance this out…or cut the pith from the lemon, reserving peel.
You can vary the amount  of garlic depending on how much you like it. And make sure to buy fresh walnuts and store them in the freezer! They shouldn’t be overly bitter.