Scientist warns that going vegan in January may be less healthy than you think.

  • Many Britons plan to adopt veganism in January.
  • Scientists warn that many people won’t do their research before adopting a plant-based diet.
  • Tim Spector, Professor of Psychology, suggested that people tend to eat meat-free junk food rather than try new fruits and vegetables.

Leading scientists warn that Veganuary could be dangerous.

This is due to the fact that vegans who aren’t able to eat meat for one month often eat a lot of junk food and avoid trying out new fruits and vegetables.

According to Tim Spector (professor of genetic epidemiology, King’s College London), they will not have conducted enough research on the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, has said people who follow Veganuary tend to binge on meat-free junk foods rather than trying new fruit and vegetables

Tim Spector is a professor at King’s College London in genetic epidemiology. He said Veganuary participants tend to consume more meat-free junk foods than they do new fruits and veggies.

Many will then eat meals high in salt, fat and added sugar. With dairy in many foods they normally enjoy, vegan burgers and pizzas are often the only options for eating out – while it is easy to snack on vegan sausage rolls.

Professor Spector explained that “there are many very healthy vegans who substitute meat and milk for bad choices in food and that’s a serious risk for Veganuary.”

“My concern about this is that too many people will choose to eat less variety, such as a few vegan recipes on repeat. Instead of reading recipe books, learning new foods, or making soup, I’d rather they eat more bland, unhealthful meals.

'There are plenty of very unhealthy vegans, who swap meat and dairy for poor choices of food, and that is a real risk for Veganuary,' Professor Spector said (stock photo)

Professor Spector stated, “There are many very healthy vegans, who substitute meat and dairy for bad choices for food. That is a risk for Veganuary.” (stock image). 

Veganuary: Top Tips

  • As a treat, you can have a vegan sausage or burger only once per week
  • Avoid meat substitutes that contain dangerous chemicals or preservatives
  • Try a new vegetable you’ve never had every week
  • Make a soup with the veggies in your refrigerator if you are unsure what to eat.
  • Don’t overindulge in vegan cheese that is low on calories, because it can be high carbohydrate.
  • Lentils, baked beans, and mushrooms are great ways to increase your protein intake
  • If you are low in these nutrients, consider taking iron and B12 supplements
  • Do not compensate by eating extra sweet snacks to make up for what you have lost
  • Mix nuts with snacks


Last year 580,000 signed up to the official Veganuary campaign – a quarter of them in the UK – but many more took part unofficially.

In his book, Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food Is Wrong, Professor Spector says many who go vegan feel healthier, but that may be a ‘placebo’ effect – convincing themselves it is doing them good.

He says there is not evidence to suggest that plant-based milks such as soya, almond, and oat are healthier than cows milk. Vegan cheeses, however, can contain high levels of carbs, which could lead to weight gain and blood sugar spikes.

In 2020, Action On Salt found three in five of the plant-based restaurant meals it surveyed contained at least 3g of salt – half the maximum recommended daily intake for an adult – while one in eight contained 6g or more.

Professor Spector stated that Veganuary’s general principles are good. However, some individuals might be better off avoiding meat first.

“It’s important to plan to make sure you do your job properly.”

Dr Toni Vernelli, head of communications at Veganuary, which is a non-profit organisation, said: ‘Everyone who signs up on our website receives dozens of healthy recipes, nutrition planners and weekly meal plans that enable them to cook simple but delicious – and most importantly, nutritious – meals.’