Everything you need to know about Veganuary

Your mission (should you choose to accept it): is to go vegan for the whole month of January. No meat, no eggs - basically, if it comes from an animal, it isn't on the menu. Are you up for the challenge?

The aim of the 31-day lifestyle change is to encourage people to try a plant-based diet and discover how going vegan can help to protect the environment, prevent the suffering of animals and improve their health.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Veganuary[1] and how you can take part.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary isn't just the name of the challenge. They are a non-profit organisation who aims to encourage people to try a plant-based diet[2] and educate everyone on the benefits of going vegan. Their four main aims are to:

  • Increase participation - inspiring people all over the world to try a vegan diet throughout January
  • Corporate outreach - working with brands, restaurants and supermarkets to help them to create, launch and promote vegan products
  • Raising awareness of animal suffering on farms and at slaughter - establishing media engagement, creative marketing strategies and campaigning
  • Growing a global movement - creating an international mass movement of people taking on Veganuary to change the world for the better

Their vision is to have a world without animal farms, slaughterhouses and a food production system that isn't responsible for forest devastation, river and ocean pollution and climate change.

@chemist4u We’ve teamed up with @Lisa Marley to answer your question about #veganuary 👏🏼🥑🍓 - Veganuary is the chance to try a plant-based diet for the whole of January. It’s aim is to promote the benefits of a vegan diet, not only benefiting your health but also the environment. Try swapping out dairy products for plant-based products to ease yourself in to a vegan diet🥦 Who’s giving it a go?👏🏼 Follow Lisa for amazing plant-based recipes🙌🏼 - #veganfood #vegansofig #veganlifestyle #veganlife #veganism #veganeats #plantbased #vegansofinstagram #govegan #veganfoodshare #veganrecipes #vegan #veganfoodie #plantbasedfood #plantbaseddiet #vegancommunity #chemist4u #lisamarley #plantbasedrecipes #veganfit ♬ A Cup of Coffee - Muspace

The beginning of Veganuary

The Veganuary campaign was inspired by'Movember'[3], a movement that raises awareness for men's health. They wanted to create a movement that appeals to non-vegans, raises awareness for the benefits of veganism and breaks down stereotypes and myths about veganism.

It was set up by husband and wife team, Matthew Glover and Jane Land in late 2013, who were looking for a way to inspire non-vegans to try the vegan lifestyle. By 2014 they had created a name for the campaign, a website and a brand - and thus, the Veganuary movement was born.

3,300 people signed up for the first Veganuary[4] and after a rebrand and relaunch in 2015, as well as endorsements from vegan comedians, such as Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe and Andrew O'Neill, the movement grew with 12,800 people taking part.

In 2021, more than 500,000 people signed up for the challenge to try a vegan lifestyle for 31 days.

Vegan vs vegetarian - what's the difference?

Both vegetarian and vegan lifestyles involve not eating meat, so bacon butties, beef burgers and meat feast pizzas are off the menu! The key difference between a vegetarian and vegan diet is that vegetarians can eat animal products, as long as it isn't meat.

The vegetarian diet can include products such as milk, egg and cheese, and they can wear products made from animals, such as leather and wool.

Vegans don't eat any products that are derived from animals which include dairy products and animal-sourced proteins or wear/use products that are created from animals. The vegan diet is completely plant-based and relies on different vegetables, beans and nuts to fulfil a balanced diet.

Are vegan diets healthy?

A vegan diet can have many health benefits, as it contains large amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds. Following a vegan diet doesn't mean you will be missing out on nutrients due to not eating meat.

Through eating a varied and balanced vegan diet, it is possible to receive all the nutrients your body needs in order to be healthy. However, just cutting out meat doesn't mean that your diet is automatically healthier.

In order to ensure that your vegan diet is healthy, you must ensure that you:

  • Include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables in your daily meals
  • Use starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, as the base of your meals
  • Choose wholegrain bread, pasta and rice where possible
  • Include dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts
  • Include beans and pulses to provide protein in your diet
  • Choose cooking oils and spreads that are unsaturated and only consume them in small amounts
  • Include plenty of fluids, especially water, in your diet

It’s a well-known fact that non-vegans get calcium from dairy products such as milk and cheese. But it’s also possible to get enough calcium from vegan-friendly foods such as:

  • Green, leafy vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli
  • Sesame seeds and tahini
  • Pulses
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and prunes

Meat is a good source of iron, but there are many vegan sources of iron that you can include in your diet including:

  • Pulses
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Nuts

Why veganism is good for the environment

A plant-based diet has lots of environmental benefits, as well as health benefits. According to the UN, farming livestock accounts for 14.5% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been estimated that if everybody went vegan, we would be able to cut our food-related emissions by 70% by 2050.

Non-vegans eat multiple tonnes of meat and animal products every year.

This high-demand has caused a devastating environmental impact through the need for deforestation, pollution and increasing global warming due to the production of greenhouse gases.

Animal welfare is also a big contributing factor for people turning to veganism.

Not all animal farms and slaughterhouses are regulated which can cause animals suffering before they are slaughtered.

More people following a plant-based diet would decrease the demand for animal farming, which means fewer animals suffer, fewer greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere and there is less need for more grazing land, which can limit the amount of deforestation.

Beginner tips for going vegan

So, you've decided to take the plunge and try a plant-based diet, but where to start?

You may be forgiven for thinking that a vegan diet will solely rely on salads. But on the contrary, there are many ways you can switch to a vegan diet without feeling like you are missing out.

Most people will start their day with a cup of tea or coffee. The first swap you can make is choosing plant-based milk, such as almond milk.

There are vegan alternatives to bacon if you're used to having a bacon butty in the morning, or why not substitute fried egg on toast for smashed avocado on toast?

There are so many vegan alternatives to meat products, you will be spoiled for choice! From burger patties that are made from jackfruit to soya-based alternatives for chicken and mince, it's possible to still enjoy your favourite meals without meat.

Can vegans drink alcohol?

Some alcoholic drinks can be processed using animal products, such as egg whites and gelatin, which means that they aren't vegan. It can be tricky to know if your favourite tipple is vegan, as sometimes the animal products are not listed on the ingredients, so you will have to do your research!

Common animal products that can be used to create alcoholic drinks include:

  • Albumen - created from egg white
  • Casein - obtained from milk
  • Charcoal - can be derived from animal bone
  • Gelatine - a substance made from bones of livestock
  • Honey - from bees
  • Isinglass - created from the swim bladders of fish
  • Lactose - from milk
  • Pepsin - a foaming agent that can be created from pigs

Some well-known vegan drinks include:

  • Stella Artois
  • Budweiser
  • Corona
  • Carlsberg
  • Bulmers
  • Guinness
  • Bacardi
  • Smirnoff
  • Jagermeister
  • Jack Daniels

Vegan wine can be difficult to find as the final refining processes that remove particles and impurities often use animal products. There are some vegan wines that you may be able to find in your supermarket, and they will usually state clearly that they are suitable for vegans.

Ready to live life on the veg?

You now know everything about taking part in Veganuary, so what are you waiting for? Who knows, you may end up leaving animal products out of your diet for the foreseeable future!

Olivia Appleton - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 22 January 2024
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