Veganuary is an annual initiative that provides non-vegans with the tools and information to give veganism a go for a month, without commitment or judgement. If you’ve teetered around veganism, interested but not quite ready to commit, signing up to Veganuary for the month of January, gives you an opportunity to experiment with recipes, adjust your supermarket shop, find out more about why people choose veganism… and access the support and encouragement of an understanding community – for free. Maybe at the end of your vegan January you’ll decide to stay vegan forever – maybe you won’t. Tens of thousands of people give Veganuary a shot every year though, and even more vegans, myself included, are on hand to make it a little bit easier if needed.
To find out more about Veganuary 2018, you can visit the Veganuary website here, or maybe follow Veganuary on Instagram here. But here are ten reasons why I think it’s a great idea for you to give it a go!
1. You’re on a kindness high – The end of the year is typically a time for focussing on kindness and good-will. At Christmas we put differences aside, forgive quarrels, and also acknowledge those less fortunate than ourselves. Veganism is literally all about kindness and compassion – that’s the very foundation of the vegan movement. If you’ve enjoyed giving more than you take this Christmas – or perhaps you’re feeling a little bit guilty about not being as gracious and charitable as you could have been this festive period – why not dedicate your January to kindness by living as a vegan?
2. You’re full of cheese – If animal products such as milk and meat are present in your normal diet, chances are, you might have consumed even more than usual over the last month of 2017. It’s not just cheese (which many people say is more important to them at Christmas than the roast dinner) but an increased amount of dairy based chocolate, hot chocolate drinks, cakes and desserts with cream, biscuits, pies, and creamy potatoes. For many people, Christmas, or other Winter celebrations, are one of the only times they consume turkeys, and there might also be beef, pork (sausages wrapped in bacon and glazed hams), geese, ducks and all manner of other animals on the table. Even from a non-vegan point of view we can agree that excess is rarely healthy, and you might be feeling heavy and uncomfortable after so much rich, difficult to digest food. A plant based diet isn’t necessarily a health-food diet, but by introducing yourself to meat alternatives such as pulses, legumes and grains – and cutting out the dairy, you can help your body to recover from Christmas excess.
3. Try something new! – With the enthusiasm and curiousity that comes from the beginning of a new year, comes a willingness to try new things. Get back into the kitchen with raw, simple ingredients and learn to cook new foods. Learn how to make lentils interesting, find endless possibilities for a cauliflower, and meet new ingredients (like using nutritional yeast to make a healthy “cheese sauce”).
4. It’s an easy way to save lives – For every human who spends a month eating strictly plant based food, a minimum of 8 animal lives are spared. I am forever hearing that one person can’t make a difference by going vegan, but whilst the animals that you would have consumed will still be slaughtered (because the meat industry aren’t aware that you’ve signed up for veganuary) the reduced demand will have a knock on effect. If you decide to remain vegan at the end of the month then this reduced demand for meat products will start to have a genuine effect on the number of animals slaughtered. For every year that each person is vegan, just over 100 fewer animals will be slaughtered for meat, and that doesn’t take into account the number of animals who won’t have to die in the dairy and egg industries.
5. You’ll save water – Forever hearing that we need to be more water efficient? Being mindful of your water usage is fantastic – but it takes up to 20,000 litres of water just to produce a single kilo of beef. By 2010 we were eating 50% more red meat than we were 20 years previously, in the UK – it’s high time we start moving that figure back down, even if we couldn’t care less about cows. We need to limit the amount of water we’re wasting on a food product that we don’t need. Whilst I am not suggesting that anyone should survive on wheat alone – a kilo of wheat can feed far more people than a kilo of beef can, and yet a kilo of wheat requires only around 500 litres of water for production.
6. It’s easier than ever – The mainstream world in which we all have to exist is catching on to veganism in a BIG way. Restaurants now offer exciting vegan dishes, and even those that don’t are keen to create vegan dishes for plant-based diners if you give them a call and let them know in advance. You’ll get loads of advice about dining out as a vegan when you sign up to Veganuary! Vegan friendly chocolate is now in our supermarkets, and Sainsbury’s and Tesco have this year launched their own ranges of vegan cheese, including everything from a feta alternative to Wensleydale with Cranberries.
7. Our oceans are in trouble – Have you managed to catch any of the latest Blue Planet series with David Attenborough? If not, I highly recommend it, it’s available on the BBC iPlayer. Humans have done such considerable damage to our seas and oceans. From the plastic that we throw away, to chemical pollution and of course, over-fishing. Going vegan is one of the best things you can do to help our marine habitats all over the world. Livestock farming is responsible for a whopping 34% of greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing glaciers to melt, putting so much wildlife in danger including polar bears, penguins and walrus. Overfishing is a huge environmental problem, leading to grossly depleted fish stocks which effect marine health on every level, putting big mammals like whales, dolphins and seals in as much danger as smaller sea creatures. The easiest way to avoid contributing to this over fishing is to not eat fish.
8. You love animals – This is a bit of a no brainer, but at the same time, it’s incredible how many of us (pre-vegan me included) really really like animals, but eat them. We love our pugs and Labradors and dalmations and French bulldogs, but eat pigs in devastating numbers (what’s the difference?). We love our cats and delight in panda videos – but turn a blind eye to the psychological and physical torture of dairy cattle (what’s the difference?). We cuddle koalas and pay to feed penguins, but aren’t even aware that high welfare, organic, small operation chicken farms throw newly hatched male chicks into meat grinders alive, or suffocate them in plastic bags (what’s the difference?). You CAN love animals and eat them too… but why would you?
9. The online community is great – My advice? Stay away from vegan groups on Facebook. They very quickly descend into vegan warfare, with members trying to out-vegan one another, and positivity in those enviroments can be hard to come by. However, the vegan community elsewhere online, particularly around Veganuary, is great. If you’re signing up to Veganuary in 2018, use their recommended resources online, and connect with other people trying vegan for the first time as part of the challenge. Support each other and make friends. And find some long-time vegans that are happy to provide their support too; I’m always here for you at Veganuary and throughout the year. Have a look at my guide to the best Instagram accounts to follow to help you through Veganuary here.
10. It’s like living in the future – I do genuinely believe that there will eventually come a time (definitely not in my life time), when people will look back on the time that humans used to farm and slaughter animals to eat their flesh, milk them whilst they’re lactating to drink their breastmilk and kill their babies, take their ovulatory matter and eat it too… and wonder why and how we ever thought that was an acceptable way to exist on this planet. One day, animal agriculture will be seen as a barbaric, and disgusting fact of history. I believe that. I think we’ll get there from a mixture of ethics and necessity. Gradually our moral compasses will shift a little more with each generation and eventually, we’ll be entirely uncomfortable with animal suffering and slaughter, but also, most experts are agreed that veganism is possibly the only reliable solution to our environmental crisis. Wipe any species off of the planet: bees, wildebeest, hummingbirds, dolphins – the consequences for other species would be catastrophic. Wipe humans off of the planet, and all other life would flourish. I love humans, I think we’re fabulous and have the capacity to be compassionate and loving beings – but we’re killing this planet, and one another, in ways that widespread veganism could reverse.
Veganism doesn’t have to be difficult, it doesn’t have to be an ordeal, and if you sign up to Veganuary, please don’t see it as “giving stuff up”, but signing up to education, health, community and new experiences. Please treat it as an opportunity to add to your life, rather than strip it of anything.
Here’s the link again – sign up now, and get your welcome pack straight away.
And don’t forget to check out my list of 10 Vegan Instagram Accounts To Get You Through Instagram here