The New Year is swiftly approaching and with it comes another Veganuary!
I’m really excited about this time of year because it encourages people to go vegan in a fun way.
Every January, I hear more and more hype around Veganuary on social media, and even in restaurant and supermarket advertisements. It makes me very happy to see this since I think it is important for veganism to become the norm instead of a rarity so that the whole world will eventually become vegan.
So, what is Veganuary?
A portmanteau of “Vegan” and “January” Veganuary is a non-profit organization that started in England but is now worldwide. Veganuary has created a successful campaign to encourage people to go vegan in January. They also encourage businesses to go vegan or, at least, offer more vegan options.
But this organization does not only operate one month out of the year. All year round, Veganuary offers support and encouragement to people and businesses who want to move towards a fully plant-based diet.
Their aim is to normalize veganism and make it as popular as possible. This is mainly to save the animals, but also to save the environment too.
According to Veganuary’s website:
“Our vision is simple; we want a vegan world. A world without animal farms and slaughterhouses. A world where food production does not decimate forests, pollute rivers and oceans, exacerbate climate change and drive wild animal populations to extinction.”
When did Veganuary start?
Veganuary started in 2014 and was founded by Jane Land and Matthew Glover.
Lane was a former English teacher who became an animal rights activist after she witnessed the horrific treatment of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. She launched the Veganuary campaign in 2014 with her partner, Matthew Glover.
Before becoming a vegan activist, Glover worked in the window and door industry. His family on his mother’s side were butchers and meat traders, so Matthew grew up watching animals being murdered and he also spent lots of time in butcher shops.
Instead of his upbringing desensitizing him to animal suffering, Matthew realized that killing animals was wrong, so he became a vegetarian and then a vegan.
He met Jane on a vegan dating site. Together, they came up with Veganuary after brainstorming ideas on how to encourage more people to become vegan.
Inspired by Movember
Veganuary was inspired by “Movember” which encourages men to grow a mustache in November to raise awareness about men’s health. Matthew and Jane decided that they wanted to do something similar to raise awareness on animal rights. They put together a website in their kitchen and launched Veganuary two weeks after coming up with the idea for it.
It’s amazing that a couple with no prior activism experience decided to dedicate their lives to helping animals. It’s really inspiring since I want to dedicate my life to fighting for animal rights too.
Veganuary has grown very popular
Jane had thought only one hundred people would sign up, but in the first year of Veganuary, more than 3,000 joined the event. Every year the number of participants has increased dramatically.
In 2022, it’s estimated that at least 629,000 people participated in Veganuary!
To truly see how much of an impact Veganuary has, just look at the numbers.
According to Veganuary’s “2022 End-of-Campaign Report:”
- More than 4,351 media stories were published about Veganuary around the world
- More than 800 new vegan products were launched for Veganuary
- More than 740 new vegan menus were added to chain restaurants
- Veganuary’s social media channels reached 376 million people
These numbers are incredible and get better every year. The more media coverage on Veganuary, the more people learn about veganism. The fact that so many vegan products are launched for Veganuary shows that companies are realizing they can still make money without exploiting animals.
Making veganism mainstream
By working with chain restaurants like Burger King and Domino’s, Veganuary is making veganism mainstream which in turn makes vegan products cheaper and more accessible to people.
Accessibility is vital when encouraging people to become vegan. I have heard so many people say that they can’t become vegan because they don’t live in a vegan-friendly city or town or because vegan food is too expensive. Many people don’t realize that vegetables, beans, and rice are cheap and vegan!
If people see vegan alternatives to their favorite food that is the same price or cheaper than the animal product version, they will be more likely to buy it. I have seen this happen with plant milk.
I always thought cow milk tasted gross so I started drinking soy milk as soon as I became a vegetarian at eleven years of age. There were only one or two soy milk brands at the supermarket for many years. But now, I am seeing entire plant milk sections at the supermarket and convenience stores with dozens of different plant milk including almond, coconut, oat, and pistachio.
I am also seeing this happen with plant-based meat. The frozen plant meat section of the market seems to get bigger every month and I’m here for it!
How do you join Veganuary?
Even though I’ve been a vegan for eighteen years, I signed up for Veganuary to see how it works. As an animal rights activist, I think it’s helpful to know what strategies have worked well for others so that I can incorporate that into my own activism.
When I signed up, I received a link to the Veganuary Celebrity Cookbook with 25 vegan recipes, plus The Official Veganuary Starter Kit which is full of information about veganism and why going vegan is important. It even includes sections on nutrition, meal planning, common questions, book recommendations, film recommendations, and so much more!
What really stood out to me was this message in the first email I received when I signed up:
“Veganuary is for everyone. No matter your previous diet, or your intentions once your vegan pledge is over, you won’t be judged. I’m here to support you and make eating vegan fun.”
I think it’s important to encourage people to become vegan from a place of positivity and openness rather than criticism.
Because I have been a vegan for so long, I have seen what approaches work best when trying to convince someone to become vegan. Getting into someone’s face, judging them, and criticizing them don’t work. The nicer, non-judgmental approach seems to work a lot better. Be agave nectar, not apple cider vinegar!
If someone is just starting out on their vegan journey, there are so many things they don’t know that will take time for them to learn. You can’t just change your entire lifestyle and mindset overnight, it takes time, especially when you’re undoing decades of social conditioning where you were taught that animal exploitation is ok and acceptable.
Veganism is winning
It makes me very happy to see veganism become normalized. I became vegan in 2004 when there were not very many vegan options and hardly anyone I talked to knew what being vegan meant.
Now, I’m seeing people mentioning veganism everywhere and new vegan products, shops, and restaurants are popping up every month!
Every year, I hear more and more non-vegan people and companies talk about Veganuary and actually get excited about it. This is great news for all the animals that are saved when people stop eating them.
Veganuary is doing an awesome job of making veganism easier for people to understand and digest.
Veganuary is a great way to taste test veganism
Offering a fun and non-judgmental space to encourage people to try veganism for a month helps convince more people to give veganism a chance and hopefully become vegan for life.
People join Veganuary for different reasons. In a survey taken of Veganuary participants in 2021, 46% of those surveyed said that their number one reason for participating was for the animals, 22% said that they wanted to try veganism for health reasons and 21% said they wanted to try veganism for the environment.
These numbers show that more people are realizing that animals are sentient beings who deserve compassion and freedom.
It’s also good to know that most people who sign up for Veganuary end up reducing the number of animal products they consume. Some people even keep up their vegan lifestyle!
In Veganuary’s “2022 End-of-Campaign Report” it states:
“Our follow-up survey of Veganuary 2021 participants found that six months after completing their one-month vegan challenge, 82% of those who were not vegan when they signed up had maintained a dramatic reduction in their animal product consumption. Thirty percent were still eating a fully vegan diet; 38% were eating at least 75% less meat and other animal products than pre-Veganuary; and 14% were eating at least 50% less. We were also incredibly excited to see that 68% reported health benefits, including more energy, better skin and improved mood after just one month of eating plant-based with us!”
When people give a vegan diet a chance, they can see that not only is going vegan easier than they thought it was, but it’s also good for their health and will help them live longer and reduce the risk of many common diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Dairy industry flops with Februdairy
Not everyone has gotten on board with Veganuary. Unsurprisingly, the dairy industry hates Veganuary and even tried to launch a failed, pro-dairy campaign called “Februdairy” where people drank a pint of milk stolen from mother cows and tagged others to do the same.
Februdairy backfired since vegans ended up using the hashtag to highlight the cruelty of the dairy industry which includes forcibly inseminating cows, taking baby cows away from their mothers, killing the calves for veal, and slaughtering mother cows once they can no longer produce milk.
Those posts included shocking videos and pictures of what millions of dairy cows and their babies go through every day. With receipts like that, the delusional dairy farmers lying about “happy cows” did not stand a chance.
The Februdairy Twitter hasn’t been active since 2020. Good riddance!
So why were dairy farmers trying to attack Veganuary in the first place? Because more people are realizing that animal milk is cruel and disgusting and instead of switching to selling plant-based milk, dairy farmers are doubling down and trying to promote their cruel, pus milk to people and failing miserably.
Due to the rise of the availability of plant-based milk, which tastes way better than milk from animals and does not come with cruelty, the demand for animal milk has decreased sharply.
Unfortunately, the demand for animal cheese has increased, but I hope that changes as more vegan cheese brands become easily available. I just saw a vegan cheese section at a budget supermarket that did not carry vegan cheese at all before. This is progress!
Veganuary has been a huge success
Veganuary is responsible for getting non-vegan companies to offer vegan options and has gotten huge brands to get on board.
Veganuary started in their 2022 report:
“In the UK alone, more than 770 new vegan products and menu items were launched with reference to Veganuary in January 2022. The highlights included vegan versions of Babybel and Philidelphia cream cheese; three new vegan Krispy Kreme donuts; new vegan offerings at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Nando’s; new vegan pizzas at Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Pizza Express; vegan fish and chips at Wagamama; and new vegan sandwiches at Costa, Starbucks and Caffè Nero – with Starbucks also dropping their surcharge on plant milks permanently. “
And in the United States, about 250 brands, restaurants, and retailers promoted Veganuary!
There’s even a Veganuary workplace challenge where Veganuary worked with different businesses and companies to encourage their employees to try going vegan in January. They worked with over one hundred companies, including Harrods, Aveda, Volkswagen Group UK, Superdrug, Sky, Adept Care Homes, Papa John’s, PWC, Allianz Germany, EY, M&S, Higgidy, and Quorn. All of these companies encouraged their employees to try going vegan in January and provided more vegan options in the workplace.
Going vegan is smart for so many reasons
More and more people are going realize that the way we have been treating animals is horrific and that the only way to be an ethical human is to become a vegan. Likewise, people are also realizing that going vegan is a major way to combat climate change and save the environment.
Those millions of new vegans and veg-curious will need help with transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and learning all the ins and outs of veganism. I’m very happy that organizations like Veganuary are not only promoting veganism in the media but are providing support to people who are interested in becoming vegan.
Their “Vegan Start Kit” and follow-up emails with tips, encouragement, recipes, and information make it much easier for people to make that compassionate switch. I did not have all that info sent to me when I first became a vegan, I had to search for it by myself.
Had I been sent the “Vegan Starter Kit” and seen vegan cheese and other products in the supermarket when I was a child, I probably would have gone vegan much sooner!
If you’re reading this and aren’t already a vegan, sign up for Veganuary!
You will get all the information and encouragement you need to get started on your vegan journey.
Going vegan is the best decision I have ever made. Do it for the animals, do it for the environment, and do it for yourself! You’ll be so glad you did!