In 2014, a non-profit organization was founded in the United Kingdom that would soon take the world by storm: Veganuary. The organization encourages people to try veganism for the month of January. A vegan lifestyle involves eliminating all animal products from your life.
The organization holds an annual event during the month of January, which they also call Veganuary. According to the non-profit’s website, there have been more than one million participants in the Veganuary event since 2014.
Trying veganism one step at a time
There are many positive reasons for living a vegan lifestyle. Some people do it for health reasons, others for the environment and protecting animals, or all of the above.
Becoming vegan can seem like such a huge commitment both mentally and fiscally. The goal of Veganuary is to make the month of January an opportunity for people to try veganism, and if they’re interested, continue with the lifestyle after the month is up. But the following question arises: Is 31 days enough to ease into a completely new lifestyle?
First-year Dalhousie University student Megan McAllister is a vegan. She expresses some concerns about the Veganuary event and jumping into veganism all at once.
“I think it would be good if you started [by becoming] vegetarian, then started cutting out dairy and eggs,” she says.
McAllister also recommends looking up recipes for vegan cuisine to get used to cooking foods you may not be familiar with. She says taking the time to find out how to make nutritious and healthy meals is essential to making your vegan experience sustainable.
Not just a diet
Becoming vegan is not just about the diet. It’s a lifestyle: Even though the food you consume is a big part of the commitment, veganism requires more than just cutting out your daily chicken sandwich.
McAllister expresses how temporary the one month Veganuary challenge is.
“Technically if someone was to just do it for a month diet wise, then that would just be a plant-based diet,” says McAllister.
Becoming a fully committed vegan means you try to avoid owning or using any kind of animal products in your life. For example, you would not wear leather and only purchase cruelty-free products. This is a much bigger commitment than just swapping out meat as it pertains to makeup, clothing and other daily items.
The main goal of the non-profit Veganuary is advocacy. Participation in the challenge is increasing. In January 2020, the event reported 400,000 people signed up, which is a 60 per cent increase from 2019. (The numbers for 2021 have not yet been released.) The Veganuary website claims 98 per cent of participants would recommend Veganuary to a friend.
The internet can see its fair share of negativity, so a trend that promotes reduced meat consumption and environmental consciousness is a positive one. Going vegan can be a huge lifestyle change, especially if you don’t know where to begin.
If you decide to take the Veganuary challenge next year, all I would say is this: Do your research. Before fully dedicating yourself, it’s best to fully understand what veganism entails and how to make it a sustainable practice in your life.