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Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that campaigns at the start of each year to encourage people to try adopting a vegan diet for the January, and to take it beyond with their year-round resources and support. The pledge is 31-day long, and commits participants to avoiding all meat and dairy products throughout the first month of the year. The campaign is open to absolutely everyone – regardless of whether you’re already a dedicated vegan or a curious omnivore – with a mission to make as large an impact as possible for our environment, our collective health and the animals we share the planet with.
Founded in 2014, UK-based charity Veganuary encourages people all over the world to adopt veganism for January and throughout the year as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving our own health. Their now-famous Veganuary campaign is a 31-day pledge, where participants sign an online agreement to try a meat and dairy free diet for the first month of the year – making it a great new year’s resolution goal. By signing up to the pledge, participants will receive regular email messages offering helpful tips and plant-based recipes to adjust to their vegan diet, from supermarket shopping information to options at chain restaurants.
Last year, Veganuary broke records with more than a quarter of a million people across 190 countries pledging to adopt veganism for January – and most were meat-eaters at the time they decided to commit to the campaign. While health was the major driver for those taking part, animal welfare and the environment were also key reasons cited for ditching all animal and dairy products for the month. The campaign also had a lasting impact – in a follow-up survey, the charity found that almost half of the participants said they would continue veganism throughout the year.
In addition to the record-breaking numbers of Veganuary pledges, over 50 brands, restaurants and supermarkets also joined in to promote the campaign. This saw over 200 vegan products and menus launch in the United Kingdom alone, including famous chains such as Pizza Hut and Greggs, as well as major grocery stores Marks & Spencers and Sainsbury’s.
This year, Veganuary is hoping to attract over 350,000 participants, and are focusing on encouraging veganism by highlighting the enormous environmental impact of animal agriculture.
In addition to the animal livestock industry being responsible for 18% of global emissions, which is more than the carbon footprint of all global transportation combined, conventionally meat and dairy fuels soil erosion, and promotes inefficient land management. Both of the latter are at the heart of the world’s deforestation crisis, which the United Nations IPCC has repeatedly warned is a threat to human civilisation. Even worse, animal meat requires massive amounts of water to produce: a single beef burger uses up 660 gallons of water, and the “lowest impact” type of meat, chicken, still uses up 71% more water than what is needed to produce the same amount of soy.
“Research shows that the single biggest thing we can do for the environment is to go vegan…We’re aware that we won’t save the planet in 31 days, but with hundreds of thousands of people, we will have some impact,” Wendy Matthews, Veganuary project manager for the United States, said.
With Asia’s climate action looking bleak, any individual action taken is a step forward to galvanise more to be done to combat the biggest crisis our planet is facing today. In addition to slashing greenhouse gas emissions and ecological degradation, scientific studies have evidenced that ditching meat could help ease health epidemics like obesity and cancer. It could even tackle the related regional African swine fever epidemic that is wiping out pigs across the Asian region and the world.
Make a difference in 2020 and take the Veganuary pledge today.
Lead image courtesy of Getty Images.