With each passing year Veganuary has increased in popularity with more than 250,000 people taking part in the trend last year. This trend is giving thousands of people a taste of a vegan diet whether they only try it out for the month of January, or it inspires them to eat a plant-based diet throughout the year.

The World Cancer Research Fund’s Nutritionist, Matt Lambert, takes a look at vegan diets; the benefits and the little bit of extra effort you’ll need to put in to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

For whatever reason you’ve chosen to try it out for a month, or if you’re taking the leap to eat a vegan diet permanently, the greatest advantage is if you follow a vegan diet well, you’re guaranteed to eat more vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and pulses.

Matt takes a closer look at the nutrients which are harder to come by in plant-based diets, such as iodine and vitamin B12, but makes plenty of suggestions of where you can find these in a wide variety of foods.

Here is a recipe suggested by Nutritional Therapist, Victoria Kubiak, and another favourite recipe from Communication and Information Officer, Kim Creus.

Mushroom and spinach stroganoff
In our 7 day recipe planner we prepare this recipe with single cream, but you can swap out the dairy cream for oat cream, fortified soya cream (a great source of vitamin B12 and D) or coconut cream.

Ingredients
Olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp paprika
800g mushrooms, sliced
150ml vegetable stock
Small bag of baby spinach, about 150g
100ml cream (oat, soya or coconut)
Salt/pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or tarragon

Soften the onion and pepper in a little oil for 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes. Add the stock and reduce until thickened, stir in the spinach and wilt it, then add the cream. Reheat gently for one minute. Season to taste, add chopped parsley/tarragon and serve with brown basmati rice.

Tip: Add chickpeas or other tinned beans for extra protein.

North African squash and chickpea stew (from River Cottage)

“Try swapping the small pasta/orzo for a tin of barley (easyily found in supermarkets these days). And you could also top off with the dish with toasted seeds and nuts for a little extra hit of magnesium and zinc.” Victoria

Ingredients
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 large onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
100g red lentils
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 saffron strands, toasted and crushed
500ml roasted tomato sauce or passata
A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped
A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
300g squash or pumpkin
1.2 litres vegetable stock (make sure it’s vegan friendly)
1 bay leaf
50g vermicelli, orzo or other small pasta or a tin of barley
Dates, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until just starting to turn golden. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, celery, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, tomato sauce or passata, parsley and about half the coriander. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and deseed the squash or pumpkin and cut into large cubes. Add to the pan with the stock and bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, scattered with the remaining coriander leaves and with a few dates on the side, if you like.