Veganuary could save one million animals as 350,000 do meat free month

1 January 2020, 11:47

Many people will be going vegan for January
Many people will be going vegan for January. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

People going vegan in January could save more than one million animals and cut greenhouse gas emissions as more people go meat-free.

As 2020 starts many people will be thinking of New Year's resolutions, for the last seven years many have given up eating meat for the first 31 days of the year.

An amalgamation of a vegan diet and the month of January with the charity Veganuary estimating that 350,000 people will attempt a vegan diet in January 2020.

They claim it will save the same greenhouse gas emissions as removing 160,000 cars from the road.

During the 2019 campaign, more than a quarter of a million people took their pledge to try a vegan diet, while more than 500 brands, restaurants and supermarkets promoted their campaign, and launched more than 200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone.

What is veganism?

According to the Vegan Society: "Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose."

While a vegetarian just avoids eating animals, but may still opt for their by-products such as eggs, milk, and cheese.

Going vegan is important for many different reasons, but according to our research, the top three reasons participants take the Veganuary pledge are for personal health, animal welfare, and the environment," says Veganuary CEO Simon Winch.

"Eating vegan is a great way to improve energy and vitality, halve your dietary greenhouse gas emissions, and address animal agriculture—which is one of the biggest contributors to climate change."

Veganism has become an increasingly popular lifestyle choice.

According to polls quoted by the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in Britain has quadrupled since 2014, increasing from 150,000 to 600,000.

Orders for vegan meals have increased by 388% between 2016 and 2018, making them the UK’s fastest-growing takeaway choice.

A number of high street brands launched vegan versions of popular products in 2019, Greggs famously launched their vegan sausage roll, while McDonald's announced their first vegan meal.

Celebrity supporter Sir Paul McCartney said: "I’ve been vegetarian for over 40 years and have stayed with it because I believe that every meat-free meal is a win for animals and the planet. This is why I started Meat Free Monday with my daughters Mary and Stella, and it’s also why I support Veganuary.

"We’re all trying to make the world a bit better, so why not sign up, take part, give it a go, and see how you feel? It could be the best thing you ever did."

However, nutritionist Becky Graham told Sky News while there are health benefits, a meat-free diet cannot provide everything a human is used to.

She said: "It's down to the individual - but if you decide not to eat meat you can find the nutrients to replace it. However, looking at following a vegan diet long term, there are certain nutrients that definitely would be missing out on.

"Key things like iron, B12, perhaps vitamin D as well. All those are found in animal products but not in plant products to the same extent - or at all to be honest."