Our society has became obsessed with consumerism. Recent years have seen the rising popularity of 30-day challenges for social positivity and health reasons — Dry January, Movember, Veganuary.
At the start of 2019, more people than ever decided to cut meat and dairy from their diets for the month of January, ending with a record high of 250,000 participants. This trend has been growing exponentially over recent years and more and more people are being tempted by a plant-based lifestyle. Many environmental and animal activists have already made the dietary switch. We’ll look into why people do Veganuary, as well as our thoughts on whether we’ll see another rise in people signing up. Could it be a fad?
More and more Britons are turning to a plant-based diet. Statistics found that veganism will increase by 327 per cent by 2020, with one in five people being meat and dairy free. In 2019, 46 per cent of participants claimed to have signed up for health reasons, 34 per cent as a protest for the way animals are treated, and 12 per cent for climate issues. However, 2020’s focus is shifting to concerns of the environment, aiming to increase to 350,000 participants.
In the current climate, emissions from animal agriculture and livestock are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, so to create a sustainable way of living to help save our planet, red meat consumption needs to be reduced by more than 50 per cent with a two-fold increase of fruit, nuts, pulses, and veg.
65,000 people have signed up so far. Although this is only 20 per cent of the way to their goal, not everyone might register with the charity and may instead participate solely. Toni Vernelli, head of communications at Veganuary, said: “One of our main aims this year is to make sure no one goes it alone. Research from Kantar found that ten times as many people cut out animal products last January than had actually signed our pledge, meaning they had to navigate this new world of food choices without our free and friendly support.
“This year we’re encouraging everyone who’s ‘doing Veganuary’ to sign up on our website so that we can help them have the best experience possible”.
Another popular diet at the moment is Flexitarianism, where meat-eaters have significantly cut down on their animal consumption. Some use it as a stepping stone to full blown veganism, whilst others see it as a simple an effective way to reduce their impact on the planet. Reduction of meat in any capacity is certainly beneficial, but it doesn’t happen overnight — Veganuary is the perfect opportunity for many to try out the vegan diet, and lead to possible dietary changes throughout the year. We don’t want to relapse now, do we?
January is always a long month of New Year’s resolutions and promises to improve ourselves. And like a Netflix trial, Veganuary director Wendy Matthews said that ‘in 2019, almost half of participants said that they’d continue eating vegan after completion of the challenge’. This is sustained by regular emails containing recipes and tips, as well as new vegan options available in-store or at chain restaurants.
On the other hand, Psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, Traci Mann, is suspicious of month-long restrictions, arguing that when you deny yourself something, it makes you want it even more. Mann did no-sugar February and ate twice as much sugar in March. Will a month abstaining from meat and dairy products only make some realise how much they love it?
No Signs of Slowing Down
The rising vegan options being released at supermarkets suggests that Veganuary isn’t slowing down. Sainsbury’s are at the frontline for vegan options, releasing their own vegan range of over 31 products in response to the soaring demand for plant-based alternatives after the festive period. Fair trade pioneer, Traidcraft also provide snacks such as vegan chocolate. Plant Pioneers are planned to be rolled out on New Year’s Day, including quarter pounders, mushroom hotdogs, fishless fingers and alternative-chicken nuggets, making it easier for those trying to make the transition. Similarly, takeaway service Just Eat, reported that demand for vegetarian options soared by 987 per cent in 2017.
This year, veganuary is certainly on the rise. With Vegan restaurant options increasing by the day, and discount apps such as Stevie, as well as popular food delivery services, all catering towards plant-based diets it is easier than ever to make the switch. Browse restaurant discounts and see if your favourite restaurants and takeaways have anything exciting to offer in the new year!