We all know about “Dry January” and the 31 day challenge to give up alcohol for the month of January, but what is “Veganuary”?
Similar to Dry January, Veganuary challenges you to go vegan for the month of January. This means eliminating meat, dairy and all animal product and by-products from your diet and lifestyle. It may seem difficult, but considering the boom in vegan options within the UK (hello greggs' vegan sausage roll!) it might be easier than you think.
Who started Veganuary and Why Should I Join?
Veganuary is a UK registered charity on a mission to raise awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Last year, over 250,000 people took the pledge to try a vegan diet for the month of January, which you can join by signing up to here.
"If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking ‘I wish there was something I could do’- you can. Right now. Sign up to try vegan this January." - Actor, Joaquin Phoenix
Veganuary ambassadors include actor Joaquin Phoenix, Wildlife TV Presenter Chris Packham and Professional Rugby Player, Anthony Mullally to name a few. So why do they care? The benefits of veganism are numerous, with actress Alicia Silverstone saying, "Despite all of our recycling, energy-saving, and water conservation (all of which are great), most people still don’t know that they can have the greatest impact on our precious Planet Earth by adopting a plant-based diet". So, what are the benefits of a vegan diet?
Three Reasons to Join Veganuary:
1. Veganism Supports Animal Welfare
It is no surprise that many people choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle out of concern for animal welfare. The current status quo of the industrial meat industry is shocking, and while we wont go into too much depth about the shocking and inhuman conditions that farmed animals are kept in, you can educate yourself by reading “Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer, or watching Benoît Bringer's “The Carnivore’s Dilemma” which both reveal the sad truth of the lives of animals before they become food. If you don’t have the stomach to see “how the sausage gets made”, maybe this is a good month to try skipping the sausage all together!
2. Going Vegan is Better for Our Planet
Aside from animal welfare, this is one of the single most compelling reasons to challenge yourself to go vegan for the month of January. We often underestimate the huge environmental impact of a meat-based diet. The devastating fires in the Amazon brought awareness to the direct link between deforestation for cattle raising in the Amazon and global meat consumption. However, as humans we have a tendency to care about things that are in the newscycle and then simply forget or move on. Many argue that eliminating meat and dairy from our diet is the single most important thing that we as individuals can do to combat climate change. If you need more convincing, we highly recommend reading another great book by Jonathan Safran Foer, "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast."
3. Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Surprisingly, over 50% of participants who took the Veganuary Pledge said that they chose to participate because of the health benefits of a vegan diet. We are not nutritionists, and won’t claim to be, however there are many studies supporting the positive health benefits of a plant-based diet such as reducing your risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer. As with any elimination diet, there are certain risks of potential nutritional shortfalls – such as lack of protein and iron- which can be compensated for by proactive meal planning on your own, or with a professional nutritionist.
Is Going Vegan Hard?
Last year, according to Veganuary, 60% of those who participated in the month long challenge said it was easier than they expected. Because interest in Veganism has grown so much in the UK, going vegan is easier and more accessible than ever before. If you are part of the 22 million people in the UK that consider themselves “flexitarian” maybe this a a great opportunity to challenge yourself. In fact, nearly half of participates in Veganuary stated that they are committed to maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet for the rest of the year.
Are you up for the Veganuary Challenge? Sign up here, and find great resources to help your journey.
P.S. Going Vegan isn't just about the food you eat, it is also about why you buy! If you want some vegan inspiration, check out our Vegan Edit now!