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More than 8 in 10 people who joined the Veganuary pledge for the first month of 2021 plan on making their newfound plant-forward diets a long-term habit. The findings, revealed in the annual survey released last month, also showed record-breaking levels of participation this year, spanning 582,000 people across 209 countries and regions globally, with India notably becoming the first Asian country to make it to the top 10 sign-ups for the first time.
2021 marked a “riveting” year for the Veganuary campaign, the U.K.-based initiative promoting plant-based eating for the month of January that has spiralled into a global phenomenon with well over 1 million total participants. Releasing their survey results on March 30, the charity revealed that this year, more than 582,000 people spread across 209 countries and territories took part in the campaign, surpassing all previous records.
One of the most notable findings from the poll was that 85% of participants plan to make permanent changes to their diet by at least halving their intake of animal products, of which at least 40% said they would go fully vegan. Prior to taking part in the pledge, nearly three-quarters of Veganuary participants were meat or seafood eaters, with the majority being female (85%) and aged between 25 and 54 (65%).
“These incredible results show that Veganuary really is inspiring people around the world to adopt a more planet-friendly diet,” commented Toni Vernelli, international head of communications at Veganuary.
Read: Interview with Veganuary co-founder Matthew Glover – ‘It’s the easiest year ever to go vegan’
The post-pledge survey also showed for the first time, an Asian country made it to the list of top 10 countries of Veganuary sign-ups, with India standing in third place, just behind the U.K. and U.S., and Germany, Argentina and Italy following closely behind. Six Indian cities were also featured on the top 15 cities list, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and New Delhi, in a clear signal of the mainstreaming of plant-based eating in some of the most populous regions of Asia.
These incredible results show that Veganuary really is inspiring people around the world to adopt a more planet-friendly diet.Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications, Veganuary
Of all the reasons to try a plant-based diet, the most cited motivations include animal welfare (46%), followed by personal health reasons (22%) and environmental or sustainability concerns (21%). Other drivers to follow a vegan diet include curiosity, taking on a challenge or doing so for a family member or friend, though these reasons were only stated by 5% or less of the respondents.
These findings align with the small-scale survey data on dietary change towards plant-based and flexitarian diets, conducted by Green Queen Media among Hong Kong residents in late 2020. It found that the primary motivation for people to make plant-forward dietary shifts was for animal rights and ethics.
When asked about their overall Veganuary experience, nearly a quarter of the respondents in the latest 2021 survey said that going vegan was easier than expected before they joined the campaign, and 98% said they would recommend the pledge next year to other people.
It’s very rewarding to know that 98% would recommend Veganuary to others.Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications, Veganuary
Many stated that they observed clear improvements to their health over the course of the month, including higher levels of energy (49%), improvements to mood (46%), better skin (38%), as well as a desired change in body weight (38%).
“We work very hard to equip our participants with as much useful advice, delicious recipes and friendly support as possible, so it’s very rewarding to know that 98% would recommend Veganuary to others,” said Vernelli. “This figure has been consistent for several years, demonstrating the value of Veganuary’s work in making plant-based eating easy and accessible for everyone.”
Previously, Veganuary organisers highlighted the positive environmental impact of going plant-based, revealing in a study that Veganuary pledgers – even before the record-breaking numbers in 2021 – had helped to save over 103,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions of driving around the entire planet 15,000 times.
A separate study commissioned by Veganuary further showed the monetary savings associated with a plant-based diet, with meals costing on average 40% less than meat or fish-based dishes, not to mention also taking a third less time to prepare and plan.
Lead image courtesy of Cauldron Foods.