Veganuary, a UK non-profit charity founded in 2013 driving a plant-based campaign to inspire people to try the vegan lifestyle in January, had its biggest year in 2020, signing up more than 400,000 participants in 192 countries. It also saw the launch of 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK alone.
“We work with companies, the media, like-minded organisations and high-profile individuals to help drive change – for the good of our planet, to improve health and to relieve the suffering of animals,” the organisation’s press release states.
Beyond Veganuary’s social and cultural impacts are the environmental benefits. According to Dr Joseph Poore, a researcher at Oxford University, the 2020 Veganuary campaign helped to save over a million animals, 41,200 tonnes of CO2EQ and 2.5 million litres of water.
This year, the campaign is hoping to inspire even more people to vegan. Popular plant-based food brand and official Veganuary sponsor, Fry’s Family Food, a vegan meat substitutes manufacturer established in 1991, is encouraging Australians to take on the challenge.
“As a lifelong herbivore, mother and business leader in the plant-based food space, Veganuary is an opportunity to share my years of knowledge and support people regardless of where they’re at in their plant-based food journey,” said Director at Fry’s and Veganuary ambassador, Tammy Fry.
Veganuary also counts celebrities Joaquin Phoenix, Paul McCartney and Alicia Silverstone as ambassadors. “Despite all of our recycling, energy-saving, and water conservation (all of which are great), most people still don’t know that they can have the greatest impact on our precious Planet Earth by adopting a plant-based diet,” says vegan lifestyle veteran and actress Alicia Silverstone.
Silverstone has a point. Animal agriculture is one of the highest carbon-emitting industries and the environmental impacts of livestock production is disastrous: roughly 80% of Amazon deforestation is attributed to cattle ranching and one-third of the world’s arable land grows feed for animals not food for humans.
But there is hope. Demand for alternative proteins has soared as one in three Australians actively seek to cut down on meat intake and plant-based or flexitarian diets. Deloitte, a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, predicts that Australia’s vegan food sector, currently worth $136 million, will contribute almost $3 billion in domestic sales by the end of this decade.
A Google Trends analysis by Chef’s Pencils, a popular destination for restaurant quality recipes shared by professional chefs worldwide, also revealed that as of September 2020, Australia has the second largest vegan community in the world, after the United Kingdom.
The growth of vegan markets across the globe, from China to France and Brazil – where research by Mintel shows that in the four-year period between 2014 and 2018, the Brazilian vegan market grew by 677% – is a far cry from the early days of Veganuary which attracted just 3,300 participants to its 2014 challenge. This year, the Veganuary campaign is expected to break all previous participation records.
And it has never been easier to go meat and dairy-free. There is a plethora of books, resources, vegan restaurants and plant-based influencers to follow for those transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle. Veganuary is also making it even easier for participants to give up meat. By signing up, participants will receive mouth-watering recipes each day for the entire month of January as well as shopping guides, vegan meal plans, plant-based restaurant suggestions, supportive social media community groups and more.
“If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking ‘I wish there was something I could do’- you can. Right now. Sign up to try vegan this January,” says Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix.
You can sign up to the Veganuary challenge here.
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Cover image by Fry’s Family Food Co.