Words: Tina Manahai-Mahai
While some people are giving alcohol a break with things like Dry January, others are choosing to explore the benefits of a vegan diet for a month. Veganuary is a campaign that encourages people to say ‘no’ to meat and dairy products and ‘yes’ to plant-based foods. Whether you think of it as a cleanse
after the indulgent festivities, want to experience the health benefits of a vegan diet, or are conscious about the environment, Veganuary is an opportunity to trial a vegan pledge for the month.
The Veganuary campaign began in 2014 and has since recruited millions of people in its mission to turn the whole world vegan. Veganuary is founded on four main pillars: recruiting more people, reaching the corporate level, raising awareness, and expanding the global movement.
It’s clear that the campaign has been woven into the minds of not only vegan animal advocates but also into the eco-consciousness of corporate institutions. During the 2021 campaign alone, more than 500,000 people joined the movement. They received lifestyle support from supermarkets and restaurants as “more than 825 new vegan products and menu options were launched” in Veganuary’s key campaign countries.
But what’s driving the global change to veganism, and how can you benefit from going vegan for a month?
PAY IT FORWARD
Veganism is not just a diet; it’s a way of life; a mindset. It’s a two-way process that not only grants you immaculate health benefits but also helps you give back to the planet, its biodiversity, and communities.
WITH THE ENVIRONMENT IN MIND
Being vegan has a host of benefits for the environment which have been officially recognised by the United Nations since 2010. The UN has urged people to switch to a vegan diet in an attempt to combat climate change, solve world hunger, and fight poverty.
As the world population approaches 8 billion, there is an increasing need for agriculture to sustain us. Nevertheless, agriculture is one of the main contributors to global warming. Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations announced that 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a result of meat and dairy production. That’s more than all transportation emissions. In the UK alone, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in 2019 accounted for 10% of all emissions.
According to the Veganism Impact Report, our carbon emissions would be reduced by up to 9.6 billion tons if the whole world went vegan. Apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, here are some of the other environmental benefits of going vegan:
Agriculture amounts to 93% of water consumption worldwide. In Comparison, household use accounts for only 3% of total water consumption
the world’s biodiversity is affected by the use of wild land for soy and maize crops, the main food source for livestock. This threatens many species with extinction. Some of these lands are also the main habitat for animals.
RAINFOREST AND LANDS:
91% of the Amazon rainforest is cleared to make way for animal agriculture. It’s also the biggest contributor to deforestation carried out for use of land.
The production of livestock feed monopolises the world’s resources, leaving certain areas deprived of such. If food is grown exclusively for direct human consumption, more people will be fed worldwide, thus combating world hunger.
BOOT YOUR HEALTH WITH VEGANISM
While benefiting the planet’s flora and fauna, going vegan for a month can significantly improve the microflora in your body and generally aid your health. Here is only a fraction of the array of benefits that a vegan diet can have for you:
IMPROVED GUT HEALTH
A plethora of healthy bacteria, viruses, and fungi, around 1,000 species, reside in your gut. Collectively, these species are called the gut microbiome. They’re responsible for keeping our immune system in line as 70% – 80% of our immune system is located in the gut. Unfortunately, 40% of the UK population has an unhealthy gut microbiome, and that’s due to the quality of food and lifestyle we have. Multiple studies have shown that the consumption of animal products can worsen Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Plant-based foods, on the other hand, contains fibre that acts as a prebiotic and probiotic –exactly what our guts need.
Healthy skin needs to be well-hydrated. While cosmetics can help us improve our skin, nothing beats the glow a vegan diet can give us. Fruits and vegetables such as oranges and cucumbers are rich in antioxidants, while healthy nuts and avocados are rich in healthy fats and vitamin E.
Simply having a clear conscience and knowing that you’re doing your bit for the environment can significantly improve your mood. Veganuary is becoming more and more popular around the whole world. More people are realising the many benefits of veganism, including improved health, environmental conservation, and ethical practices. Why not give it a try this New Year?