Veganuary Makes History As 500,000 Pledge To Eat Only Vegan Food This January

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U.K. based movement Veganuary has hit record-breaking 500,000 signups with people having pledged to eat only vegan food in January 2021. This number is double the number of signups the campaign attracted last year in January 2019.

This news just comes days after Veganuary announced its partnership with chef and restaurateur Adam Lyons to start a new vegan fried chicken brand.

Around a quarter of these pledges have come from the UK and to support this movement further, for the first time, British supermarkets like Tesco are running adverts on television and radio promoting the campaign. Additionally, Aldi, Asda, and Iceland have also set up pages that are dedicated to this cause thus providing information and recipes for going vegan in 2021.

Apart from these, M&S is launching its first Veganuary TV and radio ads this month along with producing a 31-day Veganuary meal plan. Also, Morrisons has launched a £25 (US$33.99) Veganuary Essentials box and has also designed a Veganuary shopping page on its website featuring all its plant-based products.

I started chatting with my wife Jane about what we could do for animals and we thought – what if we asked people to go vegan for a month as a challenge? Obviously, with January being a month where people typically make New Year’s resolutions and it marking a time of new beginnings, we thought it was the best month for the campaign.”

Mathew Glover, Co-founder and Chairman of Veganuary
Mathew Glover (Source: Mathew Glover)

Veganuary is a global campaign that has recently focused on Latin America, where 150,000 people have signed up this year, along with 80,000 in the US and 50,000 in Germany. Last year on October 26, Veganuary had welcomed its one-millionth participant to try veganism for 31 days encouraging people to eat vegan for the month of January. And now since the launch of the 2021 campaign, the organizers of Veganuary are hopeful that more people will join the movement and understand that this change is needed to tackle the climate and health crisis caused by meat-based products.

According to the latest statistics by Harvard University researcher Dr. Helen Harwatt, the cohort of Veganuary pledgers have saved more than 103,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to the emissions of driving around the entire planet around 15,000 times. This research further observed that pledging to Veganuary has resulted in saving 6.2 million liters of water, 3.4 million animal lives, and has avoided 405 tonnes of eutrophication, which is the same as sparing 1,645 tonnes of sewage from polluting waterways. 

In an interview with Green Queen, Mathew Glover spoke about the inspiration behind Veganuary: “I started chatting with my wife Jane about what we could do for animals and we thought – what if we asked people to go vegan for a month as a challenge? Obviously, with January being a month where people typically make New Year’s resolutions and it marking a time of new beginnings, we thought it was the best month for the campaign.”

Veganuary’s New Vegan Fried Chicken Brand VFC (Source: VFC)

The latest research from investment bank UBS with respect to plant-based alternatives to meat depicts an increasing number of people who are trying new products. According to the bank’s survey of 3,000 consumers in the UK, US, and Germany, the number of people that have purchased the new alternatives has risen from 48% to 53% from March to November 2020. Furthermore, the research found that half of those who made the switch continued to eat similar products on a weekly basis

Elaborating on what is the main driver that motivates the mainstream consumer to go plant-based, Glover added that “it depends on the country. In the U.S. for example, I’d say that people are motivated by health reasons when it comes to adopting a plant-centric diet. In Scandinavia, it tends to be for sustainability and environmental reasons. Then in the U.K., it’s about animals.”

He further explained, “In the early years of starting Veganuary, the primary motivations that participants cited was concern about the welfare of animals. But I think looking at it on a global basis, it’s clear that animal agriculture is unsustainable and we’re seeing it in the news a lot more in the past few years to amplify awareness of that. People are now much more aware of the need to change the way we eat for the benefit of the planet, other species, for wildlife generally, and future generations of humans.”

To call more people to join the movement, Veganuary had recently published an open letter urging consumers to think about switching their diets for a month to protect the planet. The Beatles’ Paul McCartney, primatologist Jade Goodall, naturalist Chris Packham, Greenpeace, and plant-based companies Quorn and Meatless have already joined the campaign.

In an interview with the Guardian, Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s Head of Communications, said, “The way British supermarkets have embraced Veganuary this year is truly game-changing. They are not simply using it as a marketing opportunity, but are promoting the many benefits of plant-based eating. As bastions of our food supply, they know that the only sustainable way forward is plant-focused.

Apart from supermarkets supporting these products, several companies around the world are also working on growing real meat cells in vats that excludes the need to slaughter any animals. Just recently, the first sale of cultured meat took place in Singapore, where Eat Just’s ‘chicken bites’ were served to restaurant diners.

In the early years of starting Veganuary, the primary motivations that participants cited was concern about the welfare of animals. But I think looking at it on a global basis, it’s clear that animal agriculture is unsustainable and we’re seeing it in the news a lot more in the past few years to amplify awareness of that. People are now much more aware of the need to change the way we eat for the benefit of the planet, other species, for wildlife generally, and future generations of humans.”

Mathew Glover, Co-founder and Chairman of Veganuary

As consumers are continually embracing this shift to plant-based diets, a report by collaborative investor network FAIRR shows that almost 40% of the biggest food manufacturers and retailers in the world presently have dedicated plant-based teams.

This is a positive sign and in the wake of the pandemic, more and more people are looking for healthier, safer, and sustainable alternatives to animal-based products and according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cutting down meat in our diets is one of the ideal ways people can reduce their carbon footprint on the planet.

Make a difference in 2021 and take the Veganuary pledge today.


Lead image courtesy of Prime Roots.

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