Veganuary. Not just an excellent pun. It’s an opportunity to sample a vegan lifestyle for a whole month, and it’s much easier than you think.
When I first started cooking, “vegan” was a dirty word in most kitchens. It meant a salad without the feta. There really wasn’t that much imagination put into the food.
Thankfully, that sort of attitude changed, and with the broader acceptance of meat-free and plant-based diets, there’s been a wave of innovative ingredients that can satisfy the most carnivorous tastebuds.
Veganuary is such a digestible idea. It’s a way to test the waters. I’ve done it for the last three years, and this one’s no different. Participating in Veganuary often leads to increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, enhancing nutrient intake. This dietary shift can improve heart health, aid in weight management, and potentially lower the risk of certain chronic diseases.
While Veganuary started as a small charitable campaign in the UK only a few years ago, it’s very quickly gone global. What started as a challenge for 100 people now sees tens of thousands taking place. Including me.
I’ve learned to love vegan cooking. The challenge isn’t replacing the original; it’s creating a new exploration of flavours. It’s not a limitation or a challenge; it’s an opportunity to cook food that’s less harmful to the planet and often less harmful to your waistline.
The shelves at Harvey Nichols are stacked with vegan-friendly options.
I’ll list a few of my favourites below, ideal for those looking to explore a Veganuary and show you there’s no missing out. And, in the end, I’ll share a favourite vegan recipe we serve right now at OXO Tower. Which, if you weren’t aware, was the first restaurant opened by Harvey Nichols.
Picualia Monica Galetti First Day of Harvest Gold Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil
All olive oil is vegan, to be fair, but this is the one I personally cook with, so I’ll vouch for its brilliance. It's a standout in any kitchen, born from a collaboration between culinary artists Monica Galetti and Picualia and cased in a gorgeous ceramic jug. Bursting with antioxidants, it’s pure olive oil and excellent for drizzling over salads to give that extra shine and tang.
Vegan Champagne/Rosé Selection
Unlike olive oil, most wine isn’t vegan. It has to do with the animal-derived fining agents used in the production.
However, the good news is that our sommeliers have got you covered. If your New Year’s resolution was to try veganism but not stop drinking, you’re in for a treat. This case containing Provence Rosé and an exclusive Premier Cru Champagne was carefully selected, and, having sampled both just this week, I can’t recommend each more highly. Even if my sore head doesn’t thank me for it.
My Favourite Vegan Sauces
If January is the first time you’re dipping your toes (or, in this case, tastebuds) into a vegan diet, I’d recommend a few sauces. Our exclusive spicy mango and chilli relish is so good with a salad, on some crackers or even as a dipping sauce. This truffle ketchup will blow your mind and our Really Hot Sauce, well, the clues in the name.
Chestnut Gnocchi – The Ultimate Vegan Pasta
Exclusive to Harvey Nichols, The Cornwall Pasta Comapany’s Organic Chestnut Gnocchi will make a gorgeously warming dish for a cold January night. It’s made using chestnut flour from Portugal from one of the company’s selected regenerative and organic producers.
You can boil or bake them (which I prefer) and serve them with delicious vegan cheese, these summer truffle slices and your favourite vegan pasta sauce.
Pumpkin Seed, Cherry & Chocolate Biscuits
Vegan biscuits continue to evolve in taste and texture. However, these passed my most important test – a successful tea dunk. So, they’ve made my list. They’re baked with a tempting tumble of seeds, plump sultanas, sour cherry pieces and dark chocolate chunks, all packed into an oaty biscuit recipe.
Every bite contains a little energy boost, so dive in, dunk if desired, and rejoice in this satisfying and sumptuous union. The box says they’ll stay fresh for two weeks once opened, but they barely made it past the weekend in my house.
Booja Booja The Artist's Collection Fine de Champagne Chocolate Truffle Box
Booja Booja. So nice they named it twice. These Champagne vegan chocolate truffles are a true delight to the senses. Decadent and rich, they’re charmingly infused with organic Fine de Champagne. Housed in a stunning gift box with intrinsic artwork, these choccies make the perfect gift for any chocolate connoisseur or anyone you know giving Veganuary a go.
The Fine Cheese Company Crackers
Most crackers are vegan, yes, even cream crackers. My go-to are these from The Fine Cheese Company. Top with some onion chutney and vegan cheese, and you’ve got yourself a brilliant vegan snack. The good folks at No Sweat Vegan l have put together this vegan charcuterie board guide ,which I’d highly recommend.
Grocery List for Veganuary
The good news is every store has gone from having a ‘vegan shelf’ to an entire vegan section so you can fill your pantry easily for Veganuary. There’s much more to it, but as a start, here are ten items to add to your basket right now:
Grains and Pasta: • Oats, Rice, Pasta, Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Oat Flour, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Regular All-Purpose White Flour Legumes: • Beans, Lentils
Condiments and Sauces: • Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste, Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, Coconut Aminos, Hot Sauce, Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, Red and Green Curry Paste, Medium Salsa Nut Butters and Seeds: • Almond Butter, Tahini, Cashew Butter, Sunbutter, Nuts and Seeds
Dairy and Egg Alternatives: • Unsweetened Applesauce, Dairy-Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Chips/Bars
Canned Goods: • Broth, Canned Lite and Full-Fat Coconut Milk
Root Vegetables: • Sweet Potatoes, Russet Potatoes, Gold Potatoes
Citrus Fruits: • Lemons, Limes
Pickled and Canned Items: • Capers, Black Olives
Seasonings and Spices: • Fine Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Coriander, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Ground Allspice, Regular Paprika, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Ground Cloves, Turmeric, Yellow Curry Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Ancho Chile Powder, Chipotle Chile Powder
Sweeteners: • Pure Maple Syrup, Regular Unsulphured Molasses, Vanilla Extract, Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Coconut Sugar
Flours and Starches: • Blanched Almond Flour, Spelt Whole-Grain Flour, Tapioca Starch, Cornstarch, Potato Starch
Baking Essentials: • Baking Powder, Baking Soda
It’s an extensive list, sure, but most, if not all, vegan recipes use these ingredients in one form or the other. The good news is that veganism doesn't need to be just a January thing. It’s easy to keep going once you’ve got the hang of it. You also don’t need to stick to a strict vegan diet; replacing one or two meals a week with meat and dairy-free alternatives is a great habit to develop.
Vegan Pasta Recipe: Aubergine & Scamorza Ravioli
This is a stunning showcase of Italian flavours. As Scamorza cheese isn’t vegan, we’ve got a vegan alternative, which you can get at most specialist stores. Any smoky vegan alternative will do if you can’t find vegan scamorza.
It’s also available at OXO, so if you’re not in the mood to cook we’ve got you covered. Don’t tell the chef we’ve shared his recipe; keep it between us.
For the Ravioli Dough: • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting) • 1/2 tsp salt • 3/4 cup water • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the Filling: • 1 large aubergine (eggplant), finely diced • 1 cup vegan scamorza cheese (available in speciality stores or use another melty vegan cheese) • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 1 tbsp olive oil • Salt and pepper, to taste • Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
For the Sauce: • 2 cups tomato sauce • 1 tsp dried oregano • 1 tsp dried basil • Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the Dough: • Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add water and olive oil. Gradually mix the flour into the liquid until a dough forms. • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered.
Cook the Aubergine: • Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic, and sauté until fragrant. • Add the diced aubergine, salt, and pepper. Cook until soft and slightly browned. Let it cool.
Prepare the Filling: • In a bowl, mix the cooked aubergine with vegan scamorza cheese and basil (if using). Adjust seasoning.
Assemble the Ravioli: • Roll out the dough thinly. Cut into circles or squares. • Place a small amount of filling in the centre of each piece. Fold and seal the edges, ensuring there are no air pockets.
Cook the Ravioli: • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the ravioli in batches for about 4 minutes or until they float to the top.
Prepare the Sauce: • In a saucepan, combine tomato sauce with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve: • Serve the ravioli topped with the warm tomato sauce. Sprinkle over shavings of vegan parmesan if you’d like.
And there you have it. Veganuary is easy and good for you and the planet. Speaking of which, check out our vegan and cruelty-free guide for inspiration beyond the kitchen.
Good luck on your Veganuary journey; if I can do it, so can you.