Do you have what it takes to complete the 31-Day Veganuary Challenge? Find out what it is, why it exists and how taking the challenge can benefit you.
The tradition of Veganuary began in the UK in 2014 and has made waves globally ever since. It involves following a vegan lifestyle for the 31 days of January. Around 620,000 people took part in Veganuary in 2022, and we expect far more people to come aboard in 2023 as the campaign continues to grow worldwide.
There are many benefits associated with veganism — for humans, animals and the planet. Read on to find out how Veganuary came about, what its creators hope to achieve, and how the meat industry impacts our lives. You can also check out our article practical tips to become vegan to get a head start.
Veganuary is one of many non-profit organizations worth supporting if you are concerned about animal welfare, the environment, global warming or human health.
It began in 2014 when it was founded in the UK by Jane Land and Matthew Glover. Matthew had been a vegetarian for 10 years and went vegan after watching a documentary about animal suffering in the dairy and egg industries. Jane, who had also been a vegetarian for many years, went vegan after meeting Matthew on a vegetarian dating site. Both are fiercely passionate about the benefits of veganism. That passion is catching on far beyond the UK as thousands more sign up for Veganuary every year.
More than two million people from 220 countries have signed up for Veganuary since it began in 2014. 500,000 people signed up for the Veganuary challenge in 2020 alone, doubling from the previous year. The US now joins the UK as one of the leading participating nations.
A range of famous vegetarians and famous dads now publicly proclaim their love for plant-based diets. In 2021, UK celebrities, including Ricky Gervais and Paul McCartney, and over 100 additional international celebrities, politicians, NGOs and businesses gave Veganuary a massive boost when they signed a joint letter urging people to join.
The letter urged everyone to help mitigate climate change and prevent future pandemics by changing their diet—starting with Veganuary. This endorsement and publicity helped the movement achieve the massive sign-up of over 620,000 people in 2022. It is also common for many others to do the Veganuary challenge without registering. So, actual figures are likely much higher.
Celebrities have chosen to endorse Veganuary because of what it represents and what it hopes to achieve.
The Veganuary campaign has several aims it hopes to deliver within its Five Year Plan, including:
- Increasing participation to have 10 million participants by 2027
- Corporate outreach
- Growing the global movement
- Increasing awareness
- Creation of a global mass-movement championing compassionate food choices
- Ending animal farming
- Protecting the planet
- Improving human health
The movement goes beyond simply advocating for the Veganuary challenge. It also works with corporations, media, social media shops and restaurants to improve vegan food options and make veganism more accessible. Those registering for Veganuary will also receive information, menus, emails and support throughout the challenge.
Veganuary has been described as non-judgmental, supportive, kind, open to suggestions, friendly and approachable. It works hard to optimize vegan food options, veganism awareness and participation. The movement promotes plant-based diets to protect animals, the environment and human health.
The organization states: “animal farming threatens the survival of life on Earth and is the greatest cause of animal suffering. A mass shift to plant-based eating is the solution, and our work is driving this change.”
The research strongly agrees. Even just from a health perspective, meat and dairy are unhealthy foods you should cross off your diet.
Why a Meat-Free Month Matters
Eating meat has destructive health, societal and environmental consequences. Despite this, many Americans still can’t get enough animal products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warns that we far exceed the meat recommended by national dietary guidelines. One million chickens are eaten in the US every hour, and the amount of meat we consume has increased by 40 percent in the last 60 years.
Only five percent of Americans are vegan, and a further six percent consider themselves vegetarian. Most of these are women, who eat about a third less meat than men and 42 percent less beef. Recent research shows that men are still less open to becoming vegetarian than women. Several reasons have been identified to explain why eating meat is considered masculine and being vegan isn’t, ranging from lack of education to cultural myths.
Studies repeatedly highlight the association between red meat consumption, mainly processed meat, and increased risk of death, disorder and chronic disease. Red meat compounds cause a disease pathway involving the gut microbiome, leading to cardiovascular disorders.
Regular consumption of beef, pork and other meat is linked to at least 25 different disorders, as well as the rising incidence of obesity and chronic inflammation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer also classes red meat as a known carcinogen.
The devastating effects of meat consumption extend well beyond human health. It’s also unsustainable and harmful to the planet. Livestock production is a leading driver of the environmental crisis and contributes significantly to water consumption, deforestation, soil destruction, water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions.
Benefits of Veganism
One study has indicated that by stopping consuming meat and dairy, we could reduce land cultivation by 75 percent while still feeding the entire planet’s population. Veganuary is on a mission to achieve this ideal and improve human health simultaneously.
Meat-free diets are also associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction in men — despite a reluctance to try veganism. Researchers now argue that plant-based diets contribute to healthier, more positive states of masculinity and male health. Trends also show that vegan and vegetarian athletes display improved endurance and strength.
Find out how to go vegan this January and enjoy the benefits of a plant-based diet without the risks associated with a carnivorous lifestyle.
Since its launch in 2014, Veganuary has been making a difference. Many prominent British supermarkets and businesses, including grocery giant Tesco, now run television and radio adverts promoting Veganuary and vegan food. Others, such as Aldi, Asda and Iceland, have produced dedicated pages to Veganuary, vegan recipes, information and products.
The movement is also gaining momentum among American businesses, with KFC, Subway and Domino’s among those supporting Veganuary and increased vegan selection. Statistics from last 2022 show achievements, including:
- Thousands of brands, restaurants, and retailers participate each year
- Over 629,000 people signed up for the 2022 campaign
- Over 740 new additions to vegan menus in restaurants
- 19.6 million support emails
- 375 million people reached on social media
- 2.4 million people visited the website for advice or support
- Veganuary has been featured in at least 4,351 media stories
- Over 800 new vegan products launched
- Huge range of partners worldwide
- 98% of participants would recommend Veganuary to a friend
More than 100 organizations worldwide took part in the 2022 Veganuary Workplace Challenge, encouraging their employees to try vegan in January and providing more vegan options in the workplace.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Veganuary
There are many ways to get involved in Veganuary. You can register for the challenge by clicking here. The process is simple, and you will receive access to meal plans, a celebrity cookbook, nutrition guides and support emails. You can also fundraise, donate, join the workplace challenge and more.
The planetary health diet approach is similar to Veganuary in that it aims to fix our broken system by unifying global sustainability and individual well-being. Its motto is “sick planet, sick people.” The diet’s primary advocate, the Planetary Health Alliance, was founded in 2016. Its membership extends to more than 200 research institutions in over 40 countries.
There are many things you can do to save the ocean, save the rainforest and the planet overall. Registering for Veganuary is one of them. You do not have to register with any group to help the Earth; even a few simple steps toward veganism will make a difference. There are also numerous everyday ways to combat climate change or deal with climate change denial.
If you want to gradually eliminate meat or just eat less, read up on pescatarian and flexitarian diets. You can also try some tasty new vegan meat options, like vegan ground beef or impossible burgers. Take a look at the vegan food pyramid and check out our ultimate vegan food list for beginners for more tips to prepare for your Veganuary.
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