Happy New Year and Happy Veganuary to all of those on your journey to becoming vegan, or at least for January, you’re doing a great job, so even if you are thinking of ending that journey in February, know that you personally have already saved 33000 gallons of water, 900 sq. ft. of forest, 1200lbs of grain, 600 lbs of CO2 and 30 animals lives, just in 1 month, that is incredible!!!
Veganuary is now in its 7th year and hopes to see new registered participants rise to 350,000 people – amazing! Last year saw 250,000 sign up so the number of new participants this year is massive and a poll taken in 2019 by 17000 people discovered that 47% said they were committed to staying vegan.
And what an incredible time to give a vegan diet a go with nearly 1 in 4 new UK food products launched in 2019 being vegan seeing the number of vegan products available rise from 17% to 23% last year alone and those choosing to eat a meat substitute rise from 50% in 2017 to 65% to date!
And the many drivers behind why someone might look to seek out a vegan lifestyle or just reduce the amount of meat they eat can be vast and varied. Be it for animal welfare, to improve their health or the impact on the environment, this all helps to drive a demand for more and more meat free products.
Back when I took my decision to turn vegan, it was a realisation that being vegetarian only went so far and up until that point I had chosen to draw a line in the sand and say this was how far I was ready to take in excluding animal products from my diet and no further! In all honesty, I was ignorant as to why some aspects of a vegetarian diet were just as bad as a meat diet. To be truthful, I felt confident to become vegan due to the growing amount of vegan alternatives available which meant I knew with a few small changes I could continue as I was and not really notice a huge difference. It was only when I was asked why I was vegan that I decided to back my decision with some research and that was when my eyes were really opened. Animal welfare was always my original motive but now I can see how what I eat can have an impact on the environment and how exploring in more depth all my decisions I take in a day can also have an impact on my part in preserving the planet. My continuing drive to remain vegan has moved more towards a conservational one.
I absolutely understand that a vegan diet isn’t for everyone but I doubt anyone would disagree that we need to look at how we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in eating red meat will certainly be of benefit. Action is needed and needed now, as evidence of global warming is evident as our summers and winters get warmer (we had the hottest summer in 2018 since 2006 and data available shows we are now 30 times more likely due to climate change). The tropical forests are being depleted at the rate of 30 football pitches every minute!!! This is primarily due to making room for cattle or for growing crops to feed cattle all over the world. The loss of trees means losing the capacity for capturing carbon. Tropical deforestation is now responsible for 11% of the world’s CO2 emissions, incorporate agriculture into that and you see the figure for greenhouse gas emissions rise to 25%. A reduction in meat consumption is essential if we are to meet climate targets.
So I congratulate everyone who has taken part in Veganuary and I hope many will commit to staying vegan, but hopefully the experience has in the very least led you to think about how you impact on the worlds future and together each decision we make can help secure the future of our planet.