Healthy New Year’s resolutions can be challenging to keep, especially through the full year. For many, committing to a resolution means setting health goals, such as getting into an exercise routine, losing weight or adopting a healthier diet.

Lifestyle Medicine physician Melissa Mondala, MD, is challenging people to take on a workplace challenge for their New Year’s resolutions. She is encouraging people to eat a purely plant-based diet for one month, following the UK-based campaign — called Veganuary — that encourages people worldwide to follow a vegan diet for the month of January.

Since 2014, Veganuary has inspired and supported more than half a million people in 178 countries. “A vegan diet helps combat weight gain and provides multiple health benefits, including increased energy levels, elevated mood, lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure,” Mondala says.

While many people stick to a vegan diet to keep their bodies healthy, Mondala says plant-based meals can keep your mind healthy as well. Several studies have shown a whole food, plant-based vegan diet has benefits that help to prevent — and even reverse — major depression symptoms and improve mental health when compared to a diet that includes meat and dairy.

If that’s not enough motivation, a vegan diet is also the most environmentally friendly diet available. Eating animals is the most significant contributing factor in habitat loss and extinction, with millions of acres of forest felled each year to make way for livestock production. 

“It’s been calculated that if you stick to a vegan diet for one month, you’ll be responsible for saving 33,000 gallons of water, 904 square feet of forest and 602 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study recently published in the journal Climate Change,” Mondala says. “That’s better than giving up your car for a month!”

Change is difficult, but there’s comfort in the company. Mondala suggests connecting with a friend, spouse or family member to take this challenge with you. “This is a great way to get more involved in your health and nutrition, and it can be a fun bonding experience,” she says.

If you want to try a vegan diet, but you don’t know where to start, try the Veganuary Challenge for January. Upon signing up, you’ll be sent a free 2019 Veganuary Celebrity Cookbook to download. You’ll also receive 31 days of support emails to inspire, motivate and help you through your vegan month – with everything from recipes and meal plans to tips on where to get your nutrients and how to stock your cupboards. 

Consider a lifestyle visit consultation with one of our Lifestyle Medicine physicians at the Center for Health Promotion. They will work closely with your primary care physician to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Please call the Center for Health Promotion at 909-558-4594 to make your Lifestyle Consultation visit today.