The word ‘Veganuary’ has been the word on everyone’s lips since the new year began. This year is the largest since the challenge began five years ago, with over 50,000 pledged to take on a vegan lifestyle for the month. There seems to be no better time to be taking on the challenge with more high street chains, brands and supermarkets opening up the options. 2018 saw a vegan lifestyle enter into the mainstream, and with the boom in vegan products this January. It looks as though 2019 may be “the year of the vegan” as the founders of Veganuary have said.
The challenge was launched just over 5 years ago by a husband and wife duo who saw the success of ‘Movember’ and wanted to do something similar to raise awareness of cruelty to animals in the food industry. They picked January to build on the ‘new year, new me’ mentality of resolutions and fresh starts. From small beginnings in their bedroom, ‘Veganuary’ is now a worldwide phenomenon with the pledge now in 6 different languages and spanning all but 2 countries in the world. Their aim is to create lasting change – and it all seems to be working, with more and more participants continuing their vegan diet past January.
There seems to be no better time to be taking on the challenge with more high street chains, brands and supermarkets opening up the options
Arguably, the launch of Greggs’ Vegan Sausage roll has been some of the biggest news to drop this Veganuary. Twitter was taken by storm, with lots of negative backlash from Greggs puritans over its introduction. Piers Morgan even spit one into a bin when trying it on Good Morning Britain. Personally, I’ve gone weeks without even catching a glimpse of one – Greggs have been struggling with the overwhelming demand and selling out in all of the 950 stores the vegan alternative has been introduced in. So, despite the backlash, the increased choice in vegan options has been brilliant for business and everyone trying ‘Veganuary’ has had the opportunity to indulge in a guilty pleasure without the guilt.
This introduction by a major chain is only a good thing, and it certainly helps students make the switch on a limited budget. Lots of supermarkets have introduced plant-based and vegan ready meals recently. Chains such as Aldi have spent time advertising how you can go vegan without going over budget. The expansion of choice for vegan and vegetarian products certainly makes the goal of going vegan for January a little easier. Juggling a busy life and a new diet doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge as it once was. Even the student staple, Wetherspoons, has a range of vegan-friendly mains, so you don’t need to flake on your friends to keep the pledge. Pair that with the influx of gym memberships purchased to keep up with everyone’s “get fitter” resolutions, 2019 might be the year that students ditch the Pot Noodle for a healthier lifestyle at an affordable price.
Juggling a busy life and a new diet doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge as it once was
The challenge stated from an ethical standpoint, but the health benefits of having 31 days without meat or dairy seem to be a big focus around Veganuary. Switching to a plant-based diet can have immediate effects on health. It also is shown to have longer-term impacts on blood sugar, cholesterol and weight loss. This, of course, comes with caution from experts about vitamin deficiency and having a generally healthy lifestyle. The Veganuary charity has lots of information about maintaining health whilst taking on the challenge, something that might be easy to forget about with a degree to maintain.
With health benefits, positive environmental impacts and much more choice, ‘Veganuary’ seems like an obvious challenge to be taking in 2019.