Veganuary was started in 2014 and has since inspired and supported over a million people to try going vegan for the duration of January. And veganuary is not just about individuals. Businesses get involved too with the aim to increase the number of vegan offerings in both shops and restaurants. The aim is to make veganism more visible and more accessible. If you’re a little confused as to what your new year’s resolutions should look like this year, veganuary might be for you. There are a ton of benefits when it comes to veganism. It’s good for the planet and good for you. Also, given the time limit, it’s a new year’s resolution that is likely not to fail. Though we may be a few days into the month of January, it’s never too late to sign up and take the pledge.
More than just a trend
Veganuary is actually a nonprofit organization. Veganuary, like dry January, got its start in the UK. Essentially, people are encouraged to sign up and join the pledge. This means going vegan for the duration of the month of January. This includes avoiding all animal products including by-products such as honey and eggs.
Following a plant-based diet is not exactly a new thing. World vegan day was established way back in 1994 and has only grown in popularity in the years since. In 2017, 6% of Americans were vegan; a massive increase from 1% in 2014. Celebrities like Beyonce have also helped to boost the popularity of veganism. Beyonce promoted a 22-day vegan diet way back in 2015.
Veganuary itself really saw a massive increase in popularity last year in 2020. Google searches for the terms saw a vast increase after Hollywood took note and announced that the Golden Globes would feature an entirely vegan menu. In fact, during the 2020 campaign, “more than 400,000 people took our pledge to try a vegan diet”. “More than 600 brands, restaurants and supermarkets promoted the campaign”. “And more than 1200 new vegan products and menus were launched in the UK market alone”.
Is the Vegan diet worth a try?
Veganism boasts an incredible amount of benefits not just for humans but also for the planet. Eating a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a number of health benefits. According to nutritionist Barbie Boules, these benefits include a reduced risk of diabetes type 2, heart disease, and even cancer. According to Healthline, “a vegan diet tends to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds” than a traditional western diet.
It’s important to remember, however, that if your vegan diet isn’t properly planned it can lead to nutrient deficiency. Badly planned vegan diets can lack “essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine or zinc”. As long as it’s properly planned, a vegan diet is incredibly positive and very good for you. Boules adds that just adding more plants to your plate can aid in promoting “a healthy gut microbiome”
Even in the short term, a vegan diet has been shown to yield substantial benefits. In a journal entry published in 2019, the authors noted an improvement in “glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels”. Weight loss and reduced inflammation were also noted as a positive side effect of a vegan diet. This included vegan diets which lasted anywhere from 3 to 24 months. The benefits were also long-lasting. A 2018 study also found that even in 4 weeks (the duration of Veganuary), cholesterol was reduced substantially.
Good for the environment
According to a 2018 study, maintaining a ‘western’ diet that is high in both animal products and processed foods could be detrimental to the environment. In fact, at the current rate, it could cause a substantial spike in water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Both of which are massive contributors to climate change. In fact, these emissions, if they go unchanged could mean a 90% increase in emissions by 2050. A report in The Lancet went as far as to say that a plant-based diet is “the healthiest diet for the planet”.
The climate crisis was actually the main contributor to the Golden Globes going vegan in 2020. In a statement given to the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Lorenzo Soria explained. The decision to serve a plant-based meal was an effort to take “a small step in response to a big problem.”
Is it worth going vegan for January?
The answer really has to be a resounding ‘yes’. There’s really no reason not to take the pledge and give the vegan diet a try. Whether you do it for yourself or for the planet (or both) it’s going to be beneficial. Planning is vital though and try to avoid being lazy and ordering in as it’s likely that you’ll miss out on important nutrients this way. However, there is a wealth of information available on the internet to help you on your journey.
If going fully vegan seems absolutely frightening, even incorporating meat-free days, reducing red meat intake, and increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet will help.
Take the pledge: https://veganuary.com/en-za