It's the start of a new year again, and you might be wanting to participate in Veganuary for the first time, or maybe you've never even heard of it before. Maybe you've participated before but would like a refresh. This brief article will cover what Veganuary is, why you should get involved and tips on how to successfully complete this challenge.
So, what exactly is Veganuary?
Simply put, Veganuary is a challenge that is run every year by a UK nonprofit organisation encouraging individuals to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January (and hopefully beyond).
You might be asking yourself, why should I participate?
For the animals: although it may not be the sole reason for becoming vegan, it is still a prominent factor for a lot of individuals who see the treatment of animals as nothing more than food, testing subjects, clothing, etc. for human gain as wrong. Many believe that sentient creatures have just as much a right to life and freedom as humans. Therefore avoiding animal products is a way to fight against animal cruelty and exploitation across the globe. Less demand = less supply.
For the environment: it turns out going vegan is one of the best ways to lower their carbon footprint. As many people already know, the manufacturing of meat and animal products has a huge tax on the environment - for example, according to a Greenpeace 2019 report, 63 per cent of arable land in the EU is used to produce animal feed instead of food for human consumption. The OIPA organisation also reported that in Brazil the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe. Due to the massive amount of land needed for meat production, it's no surprise to find out that it is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. Furthermore this doesn't even take into account the transport of meats, other processes involved from farm to fork and methane released into the atmosphere by cows. Conversely a vegan diet requires less quantities of crops which makes it one of the most powerful ways to reduce our impact on the environment.
For the people: This links to the environment paragraph of how a lot of land is reserved for crops that feed animals as opposed to humans. With global food and water insecurity, these lands would be better used to grow food for humans that can help to feed impoverished populations. There is a need to adopt a more sustainable way of living on a global level, thus avoiding animal products can rebel against inefficient food systems which disproportionately affect the poorest people all over the world.
For your health: cutting out dairy, meat and other animal products may seem like an extreme sacrifice, but could do it for the goal of improving your health? Both the British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognise that they are suitable for every age and stage of life. There is research to support the idea that vegan diets result in lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes as well as some types of cancer. Getting your nutrients from plant foods allows more room in your diet for health-promoting options like whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables, which are packed full of beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals. Sara Pascoe (comedian) was originally only going to be vegan for 100 days but after just 7 she knew she was going to make the switch permanent as her body felt healthier and digestion improved. It's worth a try!
If you were going to take the challenge, what reasons would you be taking part in it for? Let us know in the comments below!
Now, for the tips:
Talk to your partner first, or anyone who you are living with (if you eat together). Explain why you want to make the change. They may even decide to try it with you. If they don't then you'll have to figure out what it means in terms of shopping, meal preparation and eating out.
Take notes. It's a learning experience, figuring out which vegan foods you've enjoyed and where to buy them from. You can split your notes into meals you can make from scratch, preferred brands and dishes from restaurants. If you're able to make a list of at least five easy go-to vegan meals it will help with last-minute meal planning and can help remove the stress of searching whilst you shop. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Understand your own expectations and transition at your own pace. Small change is better than none at all; so you don't need to strive for perfection. It's also worth noting that Veganism doesn't have to be all or nothing. Make personalised goals and objectives based on what works best for you, this way it's more realistic and attainable.
Socialize and participate in the vegan community. Try to engage in the vegan community, whether that be in person or online. It can be hard becoming vegan alone and others can provide support and recommend useful resources.
Joaquin Phoenix, known for playing the Joker in 2019 said this: "If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking 'I wish there was something I could do' - you can. Right now. Sign up and try vegan this January". If that wasn't an inspiring enough quote I'm not sure what is.
Let us know in the comments whether you'll be participating this year and remember to sign up to the challenge here. Check out our shop now to purchase vegan pasta!
Share this article with a friend and challenge them to dive in and be a part of Veganuary!