Going vegan for a month: not so bananas?

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By Alice Oliver, Fourth Year French and Portuguese

Even though it is only a month, Veganuary has a positive impact on our society. It encourages increasing numbers of people and companies to embrace plant-based diets.

Once considered a bizarre diet choice reserved for hippies, veganism is becoming ever more popular in the UK. Today, over half a million people consider themselves to be vegan. Vegan restaurants and cookbooks are abundant and Bristol was recently dubbed the best city in the world for vegans due to its diverse food scene.

Veganuary is a charity that inspires people to go vegan for January with the hope that they will continue with veganism once the month is up, citing animal welfare, environmental and health factors for embracing veganism. The charity does essential work in encouraging individuals to embrace veganism, as well as increasing public awareness about vegan issues and leading more restaurants to offer vegan menus.

Due to increased public awareness of the environmental impacts, animal welfare and health benefits of veganism, many people have been motivated to give Veganuary a try. Indeed, the scheme has massively grown over the past years; last year, 168,500 people from 165 different countries registered to take part in the scheme, up from 59,500 in 2017.

Whilst the statistics for this year’s Veganuary have not yet been released, the figures from last year’s scheme were surprisingly positive. 82 per cent of respondents to a survey following the end of the month said that they had managed to stay completely meat and dairy free. 62 per cent also said that they intended to stay vegan permanently, while 66 per cent said they felt a vegan diet had improved their health

Though some have questioned the effectiveness of the campaign, it is certain that Veganuary does have an impact. In 2017, the charity published an estimate that they saved five animals per £1 spent on the campaign as a direct result of those going vegan for January.

Whilst some have argued that is wrong to reduce a lifestyle choice such as veganism to a month-long challenge, there is significant evidence to demonstrate that Veganuary has a positive impact throughout the rest of the year.

last year, 168,500 people from 165 different countries registered to take part in the scheme, up from 59,500 in 2017.

The increased publicity on veganism caused by Veganuary has led a number of restaurants to introduce new vegan options. Zizzi launched a new vegan pizza for Veganuary in 2018 and have just created a new 'four cheese' vegan pizza this January. The restaurant maintains a large vegan menu throughout the year and reported that vegan dishes accounted for seven per cent of sales in 2018. Additionally, Greggs launched a vegan sausage roll on the third of January this year. Clearly, Veganuary hasthe effect of increasing vegan options at mainstream restaurants, options that may remain on offer throughout the whole year.

When it comes to the individual, Veganuary is a win-win scheme.

It is certain that at least some participants will continue with veganism after the month is up, either because they feel health benefits from the diet, because they feel passionate about environmental and animal welfare reasons for going vegan, or both.

In 2017, the charity published an estimate that they saved five animals per £1 spent on the campaign as a direct result of those going vegan for January.

Even if a person returns to consuming animal products after the month is up, their experience will have educated them on the facts of veganism – that it is possible to get enough protein whilst eating a vegan diet, that lots of restaurants provide vegan options, that veganism is in fact a viable and practical life choice.

Debunking widely-held myths about veganism can only be seen as a positive for the movement. On top of this, cutting meat, dairy and eggs out for a month will have considerably lessened their carbon footprint for the year, as well as causing a decrease in the overall sales of animal products.

Schemes like Veganuary are a practical, productive way to increase public awareness about the realities of veganism and encourage restaurants to introduce vegan options, as well as a key tool in helping people to go vegan long-term.

Featured image: Facebook/Veganuary

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