Join the thousands of people ditching meat and dairy this January.
As one year comes to a close, the New Year brings with it the promise of a fresh start. For lots of us, this resolution is to ditch meat and dairy, and join Veganuary. The month-long campaign celebrates its sixth year in 2020 and its set to see a record number of people sign up. So, we spoke to Toni Vernelli, from the organisation, to find out more.
We’re a UK registered charity that encourages people to try vegan food for January and the rest of the year. Our focus is on changing behaviour and attitudes, while providing all the information as well as practical support that people may require to make that transition as easy as possible. Last year we had more than a quarter of a million people take part which was our biggest year yet. Since the campaign started in 2014, we’ve had more than 500,000 people join the campaign. This year we’re hoping to have 350,000 take part. This will also be the first year we are running on the ground campaigns in other countries – so there will be people working for us in Germany, the US, Chile and South Africa.
We do a survey every year on our participants and the same three things come out on top for going vegan. The first reason is to spare animals from suffering. It’s the most obvious reason too, as you’ll directly be saving an animal’s life. The next is to reduce your impact on the planet. Not just with emissions, but also deforestation and loss of wildlife and habitat. People are realising that we need to tackle the climate crisis quite urgently and that dietary choices play a big part in that. The third reason is to improve your health. People who abstain from animal products generally have a lower body mass index and lower incidents of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure – it’s a very good way to help protect yourself from some of the biggest killers.
Vegan food has become so much more accessible. You can find plant-based options in almost every restaurant and it’s no longer a case of simply leaving the cheese off something. You can grab a huge range of vegan sandwiches in most high street shops, in places like Boots or Tesco for example, which is incredible. That was always something which was very difficult for people before – to be able to grab something on the go. All the chain restaurants have dishes, too. Zizzi is well known for having a good selection of vegan pasta, pizza and desserts. Pizza Express have also really upped their game. So many companies are contacting us asking to use our logo on their products and menus – if people are in doubt, then look for our Veganuary logo so you can be sure that the food is vegan.
We know for a fact that there are some incredible elite vegan athletes that are smashing it on a plant-based diet. So it’s perfectly possible to get your protein as long as you’re eating a varied and healthy diet. A lot of people presume that vegans are all very health focused. The biggest stereotype that we need to smash is that there is one type of vegan. Vegans come in all varieties. Some people are doing it to spare animals from suffering, others come at it from the health aspect and want to eat unprocessed whole foods. We need to get away from the image of all vegans being po-faced and no fun. Sign up today and help us change this!
Toni’s top tips for a successful Veganuary:
- It’s about intention, not perfection
It’s very difficult to just give up everything straight away and never have a slip up. So, for us it’s about doing your best as often as you can. And if you eat something that’s not vegan during the course of the month, don’t use that as an excuse to give up. Every meat-free meal that you have helps animals, the planet and your health. Even if you can’t be perfect, few of us are, don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up.
- Join Facebook groups
We have a Facebook group for Veganuary participants – people who are also going through this transition at the same time as you or who have done Veganuary in the past are really supportive, open-minded and there to help you, not judge you. Everyone has different challenges when they’re changing their diet – there will be someone in that Facebook group who has been through it and can offer you advice. Don’t go it alone.
- Look for familiar foods
If you don’t eat kale and quinoa already, then suddenly switching to that is going to be a huge shock to your taste buds and your body. If you eat a lot of burgers and sausages now, then start by switching to the plant-based versions of those foods. It will taste similar and the texture will be familiar and you don’t have to learn how to cook from scratch. Gradually, introduce different foods and experiment. Hopefully you’ll find that you enjoy a wider range of foods when you go vegan. I know a lot of people who say their food was quite boring before going vegan and now they eat all sorts of cuisines from around the world that they wouldn’t have tried before.