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How Veganuary popularised veganism in the UK

Once relegated to the ranks of Californian hippies on sunny Santa Monica beaches, veganism has now taken the world by storm and we may well have Veganuary to thank.

Ah, veganism. The diet that is an all-consuming way of life to some and a complete head-scratcher for others. We all know a loveable vegetarian or two in our circle. But a vegan? They’re about as rare as a wild Mewtwo, right?

Think again.

In fact, between 2014 and 2019, the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled from 150,000 to 600,000, or 1.16% of the population (The Vegan Society). What’s more, 42% of UK vegans only became vegan in 2018, which goes to show the exponential growth of veganism in recent years (Vegan Trade Journal).

It is no coincidence, then, that UK nonprofit organisation Veganuary came onto the scene in 2014 with the mission “to inspire and support people to try vegan, drive corporate change, and create a global mass movement championing compassionate food choices with the aim of ending animal farming, protecting the planet, and improving human health” (Veganuary).

The concept is simple: Veganuary encourages people across the globe to take the vegan diet for a spin during the month of January while simultaneously working with brands, restaurants, and supermarkets to spur an onrush of vegan items in January and year-round. The organisation also raises awareness of animal suffering on farms and during their slaughter, a nauseating reality that has, over time, been erased from humanity’s collective imagination – one can only presume to the great relief of the factory farmers responsible.

Read more about factory farming on Thred.

The implications of Veganuary’s work are far-reaching. Since launching in 2014, more than one million people have pledged to try vegan for a month. The result? 3.4 million animals spared, and 6.2 million litres of water and 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq saved (Vegconomist). For anyone who is not entirely sure what that means (present company included), 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq is equivalent to charging 13,242,945,947 smartphones (US EPA). That’s a whole lot of Among Us.

With the dumpster fire that was 2020 finally coming to a close, Veganuary 2021 is a beacon of much-needed hope that is just around the corner. And the organisation has big plans for what will be a make-or-break year not just for the pandemic, but for climate change.

In an open letter signed by the likes of influencers, cosmetics companies, and even a Beatle, Veganuary calls on us “to make 2021 the year for positive change and help protect the planet and prevent future pandemics.” Referencing a Guardian article from April explaining the link between pandemics and farming, the letter asserts that “because of overcrowded, squalid conditions, factory farms – especially chicken farms – are breeding grounds for the next global pandemic.” Now that’s food for thought (unless you’re vegan of course).

If you want to be part of a million-strong community from 192 countries who have set aside at least 31 days for the future of our planet, take the pledge today on Thred will be doing so, and you can follow along with us on social media @thredmag.