This year, a record half a million people have signed up to the 31-day Veganuary challenge (so far), proving the ever increasing popularity of the diet, and lifestyle, that is Veganism. But what exactly is Veganuary, and why do people do it?
In 2014, the UK based non-profit organisation, Veganuary, opened its doors. Since then it has been inspiring and supporting more than one million people in 192 countries to try the Veganuary challenge, in which the goal is to follow a Vegan diet for all 31 days of the month.
As explained by the Vegan Society itself, ‘Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.’ So, during Veganuary people participating give up all meat and dairy products, as well as honey and eggs, and eat only plant-based foods. Depending on how strict they are being, people may also only use Vegan beauty products, avoid leather goods and even alcohol that is not certified vegan.
3. Why do it?
There are several reasons that people follow Veganism; from its positive impact on our environment through reducing CO2 emissions produced by the food industry, specifically meat, to avoiding animal cruelty by not eating or harming animals for the products we consume, to improving health by eating less fatty foods and more healthy plant-based products.
A study conducted by the University of Oxford in 2019 concluded that adopting a plant-based diet could be the single biggest way for people to improve both their health, and that of the planet, and many of the arguments for Veganism are strong. Nowadays helping the planet is often the main drive behind it, and indeed it seems that changing your diet like this, or at least trying to reduce your non plant-based foods intake, does have a positive impact on our Earth.
4. How do I do it?
In addition to eating meals that are cooked from scratch with vegetables, rather than pre-made meals which often contain dairy or meat products, Vegan products are increasingly easy to find. They are often sticked in mainstream supermarkets and there are also more wholefood shops nowadays which have plenty of choice when it comes to Vegan sausages, burgers and meatballs etc. With Veganuary becoming increasingly popular, it is also common to see special offers on Vegan foods over December/January, encouraging people to buy these products. Just be sure to include some extra protein in your diet, such as beans and pulses, as proteins are often provided through dairy and meat or fish so will need to be replaced if on a Vegan diet.
Veganism is also now much more accessible through media, with plenty of influencers and Instagrammers offering advice on Vegan foods and recipes. Veganuary also has a website with lots of helpful tips and recipes. There are plenty of benefits and a month is a great amount of time to try out something new to see what you think. Maybe you love it, maybe you hate it, but either way, even slightly reducing the amount of more CO2 heavy food products in our diet can make a positive difference to ourselves and the planet, so why not give it a try?