Whether you have thought about going vegan, have tried it for a short period of time or have been vegan for years, there’s no denying the multiple benefits it has on helping the planet, reducing animal suffering and improving our health. While eliminating animal products from our lives is irrefutably the best choice for supporting these benefits, implementing and adhering to this change can be challenging for some without strong and consistent support, information and resources.
That’s where the folks over at UK-based Veganuary come in. They not only provide reasons behind the why of veganism, but also the how to get and stay there. By providing a good, solid starting point for those who want to go vegan (January!), Veganuary sends daily support emails to take you through the first month. For the rest of the year, Veganuary continues to support through their Try Vegan, Stay Vegan campaign that’s always friendly, encouraging and inspiring.
If you are new to veganism and have general questions, Veganuary has got you covered. If you have concerns about health and nutrition, they have an array of articles co-authored by professional experts and if you need a little inspiration in the kitchen or help when dining out, they provide that too!
We absolutely love the practical and inspiring information that Veganuary provides, as well as the friendly and supportive tone of your messaging. Can you tell us how you came up with this idea and how it’s changed and evolved since your launch in 2014?
It all started with a wine-fuelled conversation back in autumn 2013. Having seen shocking undercover footage of the treatment of animals on farms, we both went vegan. Since then we talked about ways to inspire others to stop eating animals. The campaign came to life during one of those conversations.
We were impressed with the success and awareness raising of Movember (that’s a campaign where people grow a moustache for the month of November to raise awareness about men’s health issues) and thought we could do something similar, but to help animals. One of the best ways of reducing animal suffering is to go vegan and January seemed like the perfect time as people are making New Year’s resolutions and keen to embrace lifestyle changes. So a vegan January became Veganuary! And no one had to grow a moustache. 😉
Veganuary talks about changing public attitudes towards veganism. Can you describe those attitudes, where they come from, why they persist and how Veganuary is helping to change all of that?
Most of us were brought up eating meat and other animal products (including us!) and it’s seen as culturally acceptable. As social psychologist Melanie Joy explains, this carnist ideology that persists in our society is one where animal products are considered “natural, normal, necessary and nice”.
Veganuary attempts to challenge these attitudes by bringing veganism into the mainstream consciousness. To show people the unnatural reality behind their food choices, but more importantly showing them that vegan alternatives are healthy (often healthier), than animal products and tasty! We work with supermarkets, food manufacturers, and restaurants to give people access to great vegan options. As we know that making things convenient for people is key.
We deal with the how of veganism. Offering daily support and positively encouraging people to give it a go. With plenty of hand-holding and inspiration, many participants (more than two thirds) never return to eating animals.
We are very lucky to be surrounded by an array of vegan resources in 2017, which makes going and staying vegan vastly more convenient and doable than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. How has Veganuary emerged as a leading resource, and how has your audience grown since 2014?
The first year we placed a bet: Jane hoped 100 people might take part, whereas Matthew was a little more optimistic with a wager of 1,000 sign-ups. We both lost. 3,300 people from all around the world signed up to go vegan in January 2014, and – just like that – a phenomenon was born.
Veganuary was rebranded and relaunched for the 2015 campaign with a huge new website and tagline, Try Vegan this January. Backed by support from vegan celebs, momentum for “the new month with the weird name” increased and this time 12,800 people took part. Fast-forward to 2016, and a clear pattern was emerging: Veganuary gets bigger and better every year. 23,000 people went vegan and this year 60,000 people took part. We’re bracing ourselves for a target of 150,000 participants in 2018!
Campaigns like Veganuary run not only for a specific number of days, but also at a specific time of year. The fact that everyone starts together is itself a great incentive to participate. It also has another distant advantage that many of those who consider going vegan fear that at some point afterward they might abandon the diet. Thinking merely about future failure, embarrassment or criticism can prevent people from doing anything at all. In pledging to go vegan for a period, they’re not committing to be vegan forever, which is likely instrumental in enabling them to start moving.
Veganuary not only provides amazing content, but also does great animal activism work. Can you share with us some of the things you’ve experienced and accomplished recently?
The biggest accomplishment for us is doing the math on how many animals have been saved as a result of Veganuary participants. We use a lot of calculations, factoring in who stayed vegan, previous diet, life expectancy … and crunch the numbers. This year’s campaign spared more than 14 million animals from a life of suffering. Cue Jane getting teary-eyed!
Another accomplishment we’re proud to be part of was our London Underground campaign last December. We crowdfunded from our wonderful supporters to raise funds for 2,500 adverts – creating the biggest vegan campaign ever promoted on the London Underground. Millions of commuters were told about what happens to chicks, calves, and piglets in animal agriculture.
We’ve also started to do visits to factory farms to highlight what is standard practice in rearing animals for food. This has been the hardest thing we’ve had to do in our work. No one can prepare you for coming face to face with animals suffering in these conditions. Seeing their pain and walking away is heartbreaking. But we know it’s incredibly important to share this footage with others. Empowering them to make changes that’s better for them and the animals.
Are those looking to sign up for Veganuary able to do it anytime of the year? What can they expect to receive in their inboxes, as well as in the following months and throughout the year?
We’ve come up with a radical concept that you don’t have to wait for January to try Veganuary, ha! You can sign up at Veganuary.com during any month of the year and start the vegan pledge today. We’ve launched Try Vegan This Month, so participants can get support from us whenever they’re ready. We’ll send you daily support emails throughout the month including shopping lists, meal plans, label reading guides, and all the health and nutrition information you’ll need for a successful and feel-good Veganuary. By registering online, you’ll also get a free celebrity cookbook to download!
Please tell us what your favorite wicked healthy dish is so we can plan to cook for you sometime!
Definitely Derek’s Mushrooms for Jane – and seitan for Matthew 🙂 Although we’re looking forward to tasting the new 31-day recipes were creating in collaboration with Wicked Healthy this year. Watch out for these awesome-looking videos this January!
Stay connected with Veganuary!