A global campaign known as Veganuary asks people to make a New Year’s pledge to give up all meat, eggs and dairy for the entire month of January.
The movement is the brainchild of British husband and wife team Matthew Glover and Jane Land. Inspired by Movember, a viral campaign that asks men to grow facial hair to raise awareness for men’s health issues, the couple said they decided to start something similar last year to encourage people to go vegan.
“We wanted to do something organized that would support people in their efforts to go vegan and give them information they needed to do it,” Glover said.
Veganism is one of the strictest forms of vegetarianism. The practice does not allow for eating any food of animal origin including fish, eggs, milk, honey or animal gelatin. Leather, wool, fur, and silk are also off limits, as are any soaps, cosmetics, toiletries and household goods derived from animal products.
Glover said there are lots of reasons someone might want to go vegan. He and Land decided to do it after watching a PETA video on the mistreatment of cows and chickens.
Veganism is also better for the planet, Glover asserted. Research shows vegans have a carbon footprint that is less than one-third of someone who eats the average American diet, he added.
And then there is the weight-loss aspect. Research shows that people who eat vegan tend to weigh less on average.
But registered dietitian Cynthia Sass of New York said that only holds true if you don’t practice junk food veganism.
“The aim is to eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day plus lots of whole grains plus a good plant-based protein like beans or lentils with every meal,” Sass advised.
Glover said 3,300 people from all over the world signed up for the pledge last year, with half saying they would continue with the plan after the month was up. To make it easier for the 7,000 people who’ve already made the pledge this year, Glover said the Veganuary website acts as a hub for practical information.
“We found that people didn’t necessarily want to know more about why they should go vegan. They wanted more information on how to do it,” he said.
Rachel McChrystal, the program director for New York’s Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, a Veganuary sponsor, said the campaign has done a great job helping guide people to veganism. But there's nothing like getting to know the animals that usually wind up as a food source to convince people to give up their carnivorous ways, she added.
“Being hugged by a turkey is pretty much the best vegan conversion anyone can have,” she said.