“This year, 63% of people still identified as vegan six months after Veganuary and 79% say they intend to eat a vegan diet in the future… It’s very encouraging!”
Many question why they should give up bacon sandwiches, cheese on toast, or chocolate. But an increasing number of people are recognising the harmfulness of these foods and are giving them up entirely to become vegan.
Those who choose veganism often base their decision on three main reasons: treatment of animals, environmental concerns, and to live a healthier lifestyle. While others do care about these issues as well, many find it difficult to make the transition to the so-called “bird’s diet”. This is the reason why more and more people have been signing up to a campaign called “Veganuary”.
Veganuary is a month-long vegan challenge that takes place in January, acting as a starting point for those who want to make the change. Back in January 2014, Jane Land and her partner, Matthew, had hoped only for a few hundred people to join the movement. They were stunned when more than 3,000 people from around the world signed up to participate. In January 2017, the campaign saw people from more than 142 countries sign up.
The IPF team was among those to sign up for the vegan challenge and decided to speak to Veganuary Founder, Jane, about the success of the campaign and the motives behind it.How and when did Veganuary start?
It all started with a wine-fuelled conversation back in autumn 2013. Shocked by the treatment of animals on farms, Matthew and I often talked about ways to inspire people to stop eating them. The campaign came to life during one of those conversations.
We were impressed with the success and awareness raising of Movember and thought we could do something similar – but to help animals.
One of the best ways of reducing animal suffering is to go vegan. January seems like the perfect time as people are making New Year resolutions and are keen to embrace lifestyle changes. So a vegan January became Veganuary! Within a couple of months, we’d come up with a name, a brand and a website.
The very first Veganuary was run late at night from our bedroom – entrepreneur and English teacher by day, animal campaigners by night!
How is this strategy of “vegan month” helping welcome more people into veganism?
Veganuary’s now “a thing” and it is great to encourage a community feeling and a camaraderie amongst participants. Taking part in a coordinated monthly pledge makes it more acceptable and easier for people to give it go.
Are people still reluctant to try veganism or are we actually seeing an increase?
The rise in veganism has been extraordinary, with a 360% increase in the number of vegans in Britain over the past ten years, according to research commissioned by The Vegan Society.
Now, there are more than half a million vegans in the UK. Every year we are doubling in participant number, in fact this year we’ve nearly tripled!
Why is there a massive increase in Veganuary participation this year?
It has been a record year; 60,000 people taking part in 2017, compared to 23,000 last year. This huge increase can in part be attributed to Veganuary’s advertising on the London Underground, which saw 2,500 adverts inside tube carriages for the last two weeks of the year, but also the support of high street chains and brands that sponsor or support Veganuary.
Do you find that a lot of people decide to carry on after January?
Yes! It’s a question we ask participants at the end of January and again in August. This year, 63% of people still identified as vegan six months after Veganuary and 79% of the survey respondents say they intend to eat a vegan diet in the future. This includes continuing vegans, but also an additional 16% who currently eat at least some animal products. So it’s very encouraging!
What we also try to calculate is the number of animal lives spared as a result of people going vegan.
Our data analysts take into account a number of factors and estimate the lifetime impact of Veganuary has been to spare more than 2.2 million animals. We had a little cry when we first heard this figure.
Do you think the media has had a positive or negative impact on people’s decision to try veganism?
Personally, what we’ve seen has been mostly positive. As veganism is increasingly in popularity and becoming more mainstream, so has the media’s perception of it.
I think gone are the days of the stereotypical vegan activist as we see more and more people giving it a try for health and environmental reasons.
That’s not to say the animal message is disappearing – far from it. It’s still the number one reason people tell us they are taking part.
Do you believe in a world of vegans?
Yes! Veganism is the only sustainable way of eating at the moment if we want to leave a planet for future generations.