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Veganuary: Paving the way for a more Sustainable Future?

vegetable skewer, vegetables, grilled vegetables

What is Veganuary?As we begin a new year many people around the world partake in the tradition of making new year’s resolutions; things they wish to change, challenges they want to undertake and personal goals to strive to achieve. For several years now there have been many January ‘trends’, with the most popular being termed Dry January, No Days Off and Veganuary.

smoothie, juice, drink

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people around the world to take a pledge to go vegan for the month of January, in the hopes of promoting the lifestyle and encouraging people to change their diets. It proved successful in 2019 with more than a quarter of a million people taking the pledge, and more than 500 brands, restaurants and supermarkets helping to promote the campaign. Many brands now carefully time the launch of new vegan products with Veganuary – ensuring there’s no better month to try something new!

What does a vegan diet have to do with the environment?

Food choices have never been more important since the animal agriculture industry accounts for a staggering 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the world’s transport combined (13%). These emissions are caused by animal feed production, the animals digestion process (enteric fermentation), waste, land-use, and the transport and processing of livestock.

bull, cow, animal

Not only does the industry contribute heavily towards emissions, but they require a significant volume of water to grow their food, clean factory farms and for the animals to drink. In fact, by going vegan one person can save roughly 219,000 gallons of water a year! This is important because less than one per cent of the world’s water supply is readily accessible freshwater; the demand for water continues to grow as the global population does and it is not an unlimited source.

Why should I care?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that a shift in dietary lifestyles could contribute towards one fifth of the mitigation measures needed to hold global warming below the dangerous 2C mark. It’s great to be mindful of the single-use plastic encountered in everyday life, or the detrimental impacts of fast fashion trends, but making sustainable food choices can be one of the most significant things you do.

food, plate, greek salad

Whilst it is unlikely that the whole world will go vegan anytime soon, it’s important to remember that no change is too small. Whether you incorporate a Meatless Monday into your week, choose a plant milk over your regular cow’s milk, or switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, these will all lower your carbon footprint and result in a more sustainable lifestyle. Veganuary might just be the time for you to test these changes out – find new recipes to try, change up existing ones or even try some vegan food out and about. So whether you’re committed to an omnivore diet or not, you have nothing to lose by changing it up this January and taking the Veganuary pledge (which you can do here) for 2020.

In the words of Jen Gale; “we don’t need a handful of people doing sustainable living perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

By Charlotte Beardwell

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