It’s Veganuary time again – Could you eat and live like a vegan for a month?
IF you hadn’t heard, it’s Veganuary! A challenge for the month of January that encourages people to switch from eating meat and dairy to a plant-based diet and lifestyle for 31 days. So, we here at Euro Weekly News are asking you – could you eat and live like a vegan for a month?
Veganuary, which began in 2014, is an annual challenge run by a UK nonprofit organisation that promotes and educates people about veganism.
Founded by Jane Land and Matthew Glover, the event was established to inspire people to adopt a vegan lifestyle for the month of January and has proved a great success since its inception.
In 2021, 513,663 people signed up for the project compared to 12,800 that registered in 2015.
And it appears that that number will grow in 2022 as more people switch to a meat and dairy-free diet in the new year.
According to a survey commissioned by vegan dairy brand Nurishh, a third of Brits want to switch to a plant-based diet this year, The Sun reports.
The study, which included 2,000 adults, showed that half would make the change for the betterment of the planet. Meanwhile, 53 per cent believe plant-based diets are the healthier option.
Forty-three per cent said eating meat is unnecessary, while 30 per cent want to try something new. And nearly a quarter think going vegan will boost their online following.
Deborah Blaser of Nurishh said the results prove a “growing trend in our society.”
“Plant-based category sales have doubled in the last five years, yet products that stack up in taste and support flexitarian-curious Brits planning to make the switch are in small numbers,” Blaser said, as per The Sun.
So what about Spain?
Spain urged to eat less meat
Spain is a big meat-eating country, meaning that change may come hard for some.
In fact, the average Spaniard is believed to consume more than 1kg of meat a week – which is far more than the 200g to 500g recommended by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition.
However, Spain’s consumer affairs minister, Alberto Garzón, recently called for Spaniard’s to curb their meat-eating ways, noting the impact it is having on the environment as a reason to implement this dietary change.
Garzón has said that the population need to realise the huge impact that eating meat and industrial megafarms have on the environment and has urged the people of Spain to change their eating habits to prevent more problems.
“People here know about the part that greenhouse gases play in climate change, but they tend to link it to cars and transport,” Garzón told the Guardian.
“It was only very recently that everyone started to look at the impact of the animal consumer chain and, especially, at the impact of beef. Other countries were pretty advanced on that but in Spain, it’s been a taboo.”
But Garzón doesn’t believe Spaniards need to stop eating meat altogether, just far less – touching upon the impact that meat farming has on the environment.
Garzón suggested that eating good quality meat – instead of cheap, mass-produced products – would be beneficially for the sake of Spaniard’s health as well as that of the planet.
“Extensive farming is an environmentally sustainable means of cattle farming and one that has a lot of heft in parts of Spain such as Asturias, parts of Castilla y León, Andalucía and Extremadura,” he said.
“That is sustainable; what isn’t at all sustainable is these so-called mega-farms … They find a village in a depopulated bit of Spain and put in 4,000, or 5,000, or 10,000 head of cattle. They pollute the soil, they pollute the water and then they export this poor quality meat from these ill-treated animals.”
However, not everyone in Spain is likely to go along with Garzón’s plan to consume less meat. Spain’s own prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said after hearing Garzón’s proposal: “Speaking personally, a medium-rare steak is hard to beat.”
Comments like this from Sánchez are most likely shared by a majority of the country, but the idea of people switching to a more plant-based diet is becoming increasingly more accepted.
In the UK, Garzón’s environmental concerns have been shared by an English council who have opted to go vegan due to greenhouse gas and global warming worries.
Oxfordshire County Council has banned meat and dairy products from being served at official events after a motion was passed during a debate in late December 2021.
The motion read: “This council recognises that global meat and dairy production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation and that reducing consumption of these foods is a key part of tackling climate change.”
It continues: “The government’s independent Climate Change Committee, advises that meat consumption should be reduced by a fifth and that public bodies should promote plant-based foods. That and the avoidance of food waste are powerful ways to cut carbon emissions.”
“Furthermore, in the UK, only 18 per cent of children consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and most young people’s diets lack fibre. Providing appealing plant-based school meals along with education on healthy, climate-positive food choices are excellent ways to address these problems.”
However, climate change isn’t the only other benefit to switching to a plant-based diet and lifestyle, according to activists, celebrities, and even a pub in Wales!
The owners of the Queen Inn in Cwmbran, South Wales, noted the “incredible effects” on their health after going vegan a year ago and is offering an entirely plant-based menu for Veganuary.
Speaking to Plant Based News, Gareth and Jane Edwards, who has held the pub for more than a decade with their son Ryan, said that “the vegan community is growing massively and they deserve a lot more than just a few options on a pub’s menu.”
Noting that their vegan options had grown a lot in 2021, the couple said they were on track to have an insanely busy January as they have had “more bookings for the month than ever before in our 17 years experience.”
Following Veganuary, the pub will continue to offer a menu that is at least 50 per cent vegan.
“Plant-powered” Formula One star Lewis Hamilton believes that the cruelty suffered by animals and their unnecessary deaths is reason enough to stop eating meat and dairy.
The 36-year-old regularly urges people to switch to a vegan lifestyle after ditching meat and dairy in 2017. In a 2020 Instagram post, Hamilton said: “The horrifying things that are happening to animals in order for you to keep eating meat is inhuman.
“If we can let go of our desires and think of the impact we’re having, maybe with some compassion, together we can help stop this by starving the industry that’s supplying [meat],” the multiple-time champion said.
“It is those of us that eat animal products that are complicit with this happening. Please don’t turn a blind eye, please don’t ignore it. Go plant-based.”
Lead guitarist and co-founder of Queen, Brian May, recently said he was “appalled” and “sickened” by the abuse of turkeys over Christmas.
Responding to a viral video that shows a live turkey peering into an oven to see a fellow bird being cooked, the 74-year-old said he was left “haunted”.
“This sad video has haunted me the last few days. You don’t have to be a vegan to be appalled by the gross abuse of these birds every year at this time,” May wrote.
“There are so many great ways to make your Christmas roast dinner delicious these days. I’ve been quite sickened by the endless advertising images of these poor dead animals on our TV screens over the last few weeks,” the musician said last month.
Will you make the switch this month?
Whether it’s for the planet, health benefits or for the animals, many people will make the switch to a plant-based diet this month, with Veganuary being adopted by more countries. Now, campaign hubs exist in the US, UK, Germany, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and India.
The crowdfunded campaign offers participants a downloadable “vegan starter kit”, which consists of restaurant guides, product directories and a recipe database along with daily support emails, making it easier for people to give the month-long challenge a go.
If you are trying Veganuary this month, EWN would love to hear how you get on.
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