Forget dry January, since 2014 it’s all about Veganuary. Veganuary is not just a new year’s challenge – it’s also a UK-based charity dedicated to promoting veganism for the month of January and the remainder of the year.
Veganuary’s founders decided January would be the ideal time to launch the project and have already persuaded more than 250,000 people to go vegan since the organisation was established. For 2019, they have high hopes of reaching another 300,000. The charity also plans to raise £15,000 for an outreach programme in countries such as Brazil and India to translate the message of Veganuary internationally and team up with other pro-vegan organisations to promote their cause.
With veganism very much in vogue, the message of why some choose this ‘veggie-only’ lifestyle is often overlooked. Whether it’s for health reasons, environmental concerns or a love of animals, all are equally good reasons to venture into a vegan-friendly diet, yet many meat-lovers are unaware of the unnecessary animal suffering and environmental damage this industry causes.
More than 56 billion animals are slaughtered for meat every year. However, this figure has seen a gradual decline in recent years, with supermarket giant Waitrose unveiling in their annual food and drink report that approximately one-third of the UK have reduced or stopped purchasing meat altogether. Concern for animal welfare is reportedly the main motivation for going meat-free, with environment and health-related concerns coming a close second.
Approximately 3.5 million or 7% of Brits have now taken the vegan leap, according to a survey conducted earlier this year. Demand for organic and free-range products are on the rise, along with the introduction of vegan-friendly supermarket food and restaurant menus.
Vegan Myths Uncovered
There are several well-known beliefs as to why meat eaters are reluctant to fully convert to veganism. Perhaps one of the most widespread is the concern for lack of protein and calcium able to be found in a vegan diet. However, plenty of protein can be found in green vegetables, grains, beans, pulses and nuts. Another assumption is that vegans have little choice of interesting food; however, with the recent popularity of vegan baking, not to mention the outbreak of alt-meats and recipes (and an array of already well-known snacks and ingredients that are vegan appropriate), there’s never been a better time to switch.
Sceptics also believe it is natural to eat meat, yet we were designed to be gatherers of food and not hunters, such as the true carnivores of the animal kingdom – this is evident by the shape of our teeth and lack of speed. If you consider the length of our intestines, this is another indicator that we are geared to digest plant-based foods rather than meat.
Some meat eaters argue that buying free-range or organic products or meat from ‘high-welfare farms’ is a more humane production process with no animal suffering involved, but sadly this is not the case. Rather than roaming around green fields as a lot of people expect, the ‘additional space’ provided for animals is normally a patch of earth and limited outdoor access, sometimes none at all.
Another myth is that cows are designed to be constantly milked. However, just like women, they only produce milk while pregnant, and as a result, are impregnated all year round to live an endless cycle of artificial insemination and separation from their calf. After giving birth, the calves are taken from their mother in just a few days, where the females are raised to repeat the same milk-making process, and males are killed after birth or raised for veal.
Whether you’ve decided to go vegan for life or just for January, the benefits are numerous.
Not only will you be saving the lives of thousands of animals, you will also be protecting yourself against heart disease and consuming products that have been pumped with significant amounts of drugs, as well as helping to preserve the planet through halving greenhouse gas emissions, protecting nature, saving water and energy, and reducing pollution.
Why not take inspiration from Veganuary’s website to create your own weekly meal and snack plan. There is now also an abundance of menu choices for vegans dining out, as well as supermarket shelves such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s stocking new vegan ranges and ingredients for everything you need to commit to lifelong veganism.
By making significant changes to your daily eating habits, you can make a genuine, lasting impact on animal welfare, your health and the world we live in. But can anyone ever truly be a vegan?
Becoming vegan is a lifestyle choice that has been shown to benefit personal health, as well as decrease the environmental impact of food production; however, we respect each person’s right to adhere to a diet of their choosing. The purpose of this article is to inform readers of the ‘veganuary’ movement and the potential benefits the diet could have.
Do you have a desire for change? You can gain the skills you need to make a difference with our health and social care management courses. Just contact one of our course advisors to find out more.