Veganuary was started in 2014 by a not-for-profit of the same name. Dedicated to encouraging companies and individuals to make the switch to plant based under the logic that it’s kinder to animals, good for your health and has long lasting environmental benefits. It can be extremely daunting to change your habits, even for a small amount of time, you have to be okay with the new and different. The Veganuary challenge only asks you to commit to one month, if you can’t stomach it, you change back, but if like 600,000+ other vegans in the UK you’re considering long term change, welcome to the party.
Going vegan means re-education. You make changes every day and learn new habits, behaviours, recipes, and make new friends. You can find inspiration on vegan Instagram pages or Facebook groups. Change doesn’t have to be daunting and feels a lot easier with support and advice from the existing community. So, where can you go from here? If you’re inspired by the 2021 Veganuary but didn’t swear off the scary dairy, why not try your own, self imposed, meatless March?
It can take a lot of courage to build up to veganism, with the classic concerns of missing certain foods like cheese or honey, and the not baseless worry of getting a varied enough protein intake – especially if you’re an athlete. Veganism isn’t for everyone but if you are interested in exploring if it’s for you, how do you deal with other people’s expectations? Once the decision is made, often these concerns aren’t a big issue; Being vegan doesn’t need to create limits, it can create great opportunities to reassess what you’re putting into your body and the quality of your food. It can become a fun experience hunting out the great vegan restaurant on holiday or learning to cook new and interesting meals. By committing to these changes you align with a similar crowd and find friends who care about the same things. You’ll meet other vegans, swap tips, advice, and stories to help you in your new habits. It starts with diet, but as you delve deeper there is much more. Feathers and leathers may feel like an unkind choice, and you might move away from perfume or aftershave that support animal testing.
There is a classist debate connected with veganism, often framed as a middle class choice for people who can afford luxury items like tofu and avocados. But meat is expensive and the meat industry is heavily subsidised to make up for this. Ethical farming for crops that support vegan foods are also a point of contention. Ideally all agriculture would be sympathetic to the countries and people who make a living from these industries. The nature of Capitalism means corporations profit at the expense of the natural resources of poorer economies. What can be done? We are living in an era where information is at our fingertips and consumers can make ethical choices through where we choose to spend our money and what companies we support. Donate to charities that will make a change – send some money to PETA or WWF, the panda one not the wrestling one. Opting for veganism may seem like a small change, but with the other ethical life choices it can lead to, and over time with a growing community, it all adds up. We all grow through small acts of personal revolution.