2020 is a very special year. It’s not only the dawn of a new decade, but it’s also a leap year. We have a whole extra day in February to do, see, and eat all the vegan things. Here are 29 ways to celebrate vegan-style. (Also, a very happy birthday to those who have missed out for the last three years—go get yourself some vegan cake! It’s been far too long.)
1. Try a new vegan restaurant
The momentum cannot be stopped—new vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are establishing themselves across the nation—and not just in major cities. While it’s difficult to break from your tried-and-true spots, give another business a chance. Extra vegan brownie points if you discover a fantastic vegan menu at a non-vegan restaurant.
2. Actually cook from your vegan cookbooks
If you’re anything like us, the larger the cookbook collection, the less you find yourself cooking from them. With such a vast array of recipes, where do you even begin? Starting today, pick a book, and commit to a recipe. For more of a challenge, commit to an entire chapter of a cookbook and work your way through it over a set period of time (a month typically works). We can guarantee you’ll rediscover a passion for cooking—and enjoy restaurant-quality meals along the way.
3. Tag a vegan blogger after making their recipe
We all have our go-to recipe blogs, but how often do we acknowledge the blogger? The next time you make that foolproof vegan chili or essential lentil loaf, share it on your socials and tag the blogger to say thank you.
4. Order a vegan cake by mail
There’s something wonderfully self-indulgent and luxurious about ordering a cake for yourself. While we wouldn’t recommend this as a regular habit—both for your waistline and your wallet—we also believe that you don’t need a special occasion for cake. Check out these eight vegan cakes that ship nationwide.
5. Stock up on vegan Girl Scout cookies
From Peanut Butter Patties to Thin Mints, five Girl Scout cookie flavors are vegan-approved! Track down your local scout and help them reach their sales goals—these delights freeze well, so buy in bulk.
6. Ask the US Dietary Committee to remove dairy as a food group
The US Dietary Guidelines Committee is due to publish an updated version of the US Dietary Guidelines this year, and public comments are accepted until May 1. Make your voice heard and urge the committee to remove dairy as a recommended food group. Canada did it last year—let’s not fall behind. You can submit your comments using this public comment regulation form.
7. Attend a vegan demonstration
You don’t need to shout and carry a picket sign to advocate for the animals. Organized events such as the Animal Save Movement simply require participants to bear witness to and stand in solidarity against factory farming. While often emotionally difficult affairs, these events cement our vegan values and encourage us to persevere in our advocacy any way we can.
8. Treat yourself to a vegan leather accessory
Vegan leather is not the plastic-y material it once was—from Piñatex to apple leather to other superbly made synthetic materials, we’re proud to flaunt our vegan leather jackets, handbags, belts, shoes, and wallets. Refresh your wardrobe with a new vegan leather fashion statement.
9. Host a vegan potluck
Potlucks are the perfect way to bring people together from across your multiple friend and work groups because everyone can bond over food—whether they’re vegan or otherwise. If you’re inviting omnivores, help them out by suggesting a few easy recipes or store-bought items they can bring—such as bulk items from the Whole Foods hot bar or frozen apps from Trader Joe’s.
10. Try every menu item at your favorite vegan restaurant
If your local vegan spot can recite your order—along with the email linked to your loyalty account—it’s time to try something new. Spend the month exploring the menu by capitalizing on the restaurant’s specials or ordering standard items you’ve simply overlooked.
11. Ask a local restaurant to provide vegan options
For the restaurant that only offers French fries or a sad iceberg salad for their vegan patrons, it’s time to give them a little nudge toward the future. The next time your friends drag you there, politely pull the manager aside as you leave and let them know how appreciative you—and likely many other customers—would be if they put a few more plant-based options on the menu. If confrontation makes you squirm, a simple email will suffice.
12. Donate to a vegan nonprofit
You can like and comment on all of the adorable pig photos posted by your favorite vegan nonprofit, but a bit of cash can truly help them make a difference. No need to break out the checkbook—the amount you pay for a medium up-charged oat milk latte will do.
13. Volunteer for a vegan nonprofit
Charities such as Chilis on Wheels have chapters across the US and help provide hot vegan meals for those who need it most. Find your local group and offer your time filling and distributing burritos to the hungry. Animal sanctuaries need help, too. If you’re able to put in some manual labor as a farmhand, your efforts will surely be appreciated.
14. Celebrate a vegan Valentine’s Day
Whether you have a special someone or a Galentine’s Day party to attend, everyone can practice a little self-love on this day. Order a vegan box of chocolates, treat your significant other (or yourself) to a home-cooked vegan dinner, make vegan treats for your friends, or enjoy a romantic dinner at a vegan restaurant.
15. Launch a vegan cookbook club
The concept is simple—rally a group of (reliable) friends, pick a cookbook, set a regular meeting time, and assign one person to make a different dish from the book for each gathering. You’ll get to taste a variety of recipes without making them all yourself. Be sure to bookmark your favorites.
16. Read Diet for a New America
Ask someone who has been vegan for over 20 years, and the vast majority of them will point to this seminal work as their inspiration to make the switch. Penned by John Robbins—the Baskin Robbins heir that walked away from the silver ice cream scoop to pursue a plant-based lifestyle—the book outlines the ethical, environmental, and health implications of an animal-based diet. Think of it as the vegan bible.
17. Buy a stranger a vegan latte
February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day, so along with holding doors open for others and smiling politely at people on the street instead of pretending they don’t exist, offer to buy a plant-based beverage for the person behind you at the coffee shop.
18. Pop a bottle of vegan wine
February 18 is National Wine Day. Sure, it’s just another one of those made-up food holidays, but if it gives us an incentive to open a bottle of vegan wine on a random Tuesday, cheers!
19. Watch a vegan documentary
If you still haven’t seen What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, or The Game Changers, it’s about time. You have an extra day this month, so there’s plenty of time to squeeze in a 90-minute documentary. Invite a non-vegan friend or family member to view it with you and watch their perspective change before your eyes.
20. Subscribe to a vegan magazine
A bit of shameless self-promotion here, but nothing can compete with kicking back and flipping through a print magazine when you need to relax. If you’re already a VegNews subscriber, seek out a local vegan print issue for constant content in your (physical) mailbox.
21. Visit your local vegan pop-up
In many metropolitan areas—and suburbs as well—vegan pop-ups have become a part of the culinary community. Get out and support your local vegan small business vendors at your nearest pop-up, food truck, or farmers’ market.
22. Treat yourself to a vegan event
There are vegan pop-ups, and then there are ticketed full-blown events. You’ve told yourself every year that you’ll buy a ticket, but in the end just can’t justify it. It’s a Leap Year, which means this year is special. Buy the ticket and go have fun!
23. Adopt or foster
Give a furry friend a permanent home and some much-needed love. Visit your local animal shelter or look into the BeFeegle Foundation—a rescue that rehabilitates and finds loving homes for “retired” research beagles. Not ready to commit to a new family member? Consider fostering. Rescues are constantly in need of temporary homes for yet-to-be-adopted animals, and it allows you to do some good without the life-long commitment.
24. Get a vegan tattoo
If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, now is the time to get that V stamp. Of course, you can always go the henna route.
25. Celebrate vegan Mardi Gras
Bring on the jazz, beads, and vegan king cake! Host your own Fat Tuesday celebration or party with strangers at a local vegan restaurant. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can count on proper New Orleans bash at Krismey’s Cajun Kitchen.
26. Bake vegan goodies for the office
The fastest way to turn someone vegan is through their stomachs. Bake up a batch of your favorite vegan brownies and share with your co-workers. They don’t need to know you have ulterior motives to convert them all—they’ll just be excited for the sweet treat.
27. Participate in a vegan meetup (or online community)
Vegan meals are better shared. Search Meetup.com or Vegan Ladyboss for local vegan groups in your area. If your search is coming up short, turn to Facebook for the plethora of online plant-based communities from whole food plant-based athlete groups to virtual vegan cookbook clubs.
28. Make your own seitan or tofu
Think of this as a vegan rite of passage. For those who can tolerate gluten, seitan is a staple in vegan cuisine—it’s high in protein, mimics that craveworthy meaty texture, and takes on the flavor of whatever spices or marinade strike your fancy. For the tofu route, the process is a bit more involved but well worth the effort. A word of caution—store-bought will never be the same.
29. Cheer on vegan runners at the Olympic trials in the marathon
To make the Olympic marathon trials, the standard was set at two hours and 45 minutes for women and two hours and 19 minutes for men. To put that in perspective, the average marathon time is over four hours—these elite athletes are running 26.2 miles faster than most can even run one mile. As of late January, 511 women and 260 men have qualified to run in the trials for the marathon which will be held in Atlanta, GA on February 29. We’re cheering on all the vegan runners who will be competing—including Mary Schneider from San Diego who ran an impressive personal record of 2:42 this past winter! Go, Mary!
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner living in Orange County, CA.