What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a campaign that encourages people to try a vegan diet for a month. This is usually for the month of January but you can start at any time and try to do a full month. 

98% of people would recommend Veganuary to a friend!

You can find more information on the Veganuary website here.

What is a vegan diet?

In a nutshell (pun intended) a vegan diet is one that excludes any animal products, for example, meat, dairy, eggs and honey.

Many vegans also exclude animal products as far as possible in other parts of their life, for example, don’t use leather in clothes, don’t use cosmetics or toiletries containing animal products or tested on animals.

Reasons for going vegan

There are many benefits to going vegan, the main ones being:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Animal welfare
  • Health

Vegan for the planet

Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change:

  • Huge amounts of forests are being destroyed to make way for grazing livestock and to grow the massive amount of crops needed to feed them, often leading to displacement or death to the people that originally lived there. Note also that much of the livestock in the UK, in particular chickens, will be fed at least in part by soya from the rainforest
  • One third of the world’s cereal harvest and 90% of the world’s soya harvest is fed to farmed animals
  • Meat and dairy contribute to species extinction – 60% of the world’s animal populations have been wiped out in the last 50 years
  • It takes 9,000 litres of water to produce one pound of beef but just 60 litres to produce one pound of potatoes
  • Animal agriculture uses 85% of our farmland but provides just 18% of our calories
  • More than 30% of the world’s fisheries have already been pushed beyond their biological limits
  • Concerned about plastic pollution? – at least 10% of marine litter is estimated to be made up of fishing waste
  • Research shows that globally even the most sustainable dairy milk was still worse overall than the least sustainable soya milk

If you go vegan for just one month the carbon saving is around 526kgCO2e which is roughly the same as driving 1737 miles in the average UK car.

You can read more about these issues in the Veganuary Starter Kit here and also on the Vegan Society website here.

Vegan for the animals

Roughly 60 billion land animals and over a trillion (whaaat!) marine animals are used and killed per year.

It is estimated that each of us will eat more than 7,000 animals in our lifetime contributing to factory farming, long distance live transportation, antibiotic usage and slaughter. Also animals are artificially bred to become more “productive” or for other reasons of efficiency and killed far before their natural lifespan:

You can use this tool, the “Veganalyser” to calculate how many animals lives you would save if you went vegan today.

There are also grave concerns about animal welfare and cruelty and exploitation in all sectors of the animal industry. Many people often find it unpalatable to be faced with the realities of an industry that is kept behind closed doors and whilst we all prefer to think of the cows happily grazing the fields in the sunshine, the realities of where the food comes from that is on our plates is often very different.

For example, whilst caged hens might be a concern, have you ever wondered what happens to male chicks in the egg industry? Do cows have to have been pregnant to produce milk? And many of us know on Arran, even in Scotland, where our farmed salmon is produced, according to a recent Marks & Spencer advert, a “pristine environment” “raised in a responsible way” and the “highest standard of welfare”, are we to actually discover horrific welfare standards including overcrowding, lice infestations and mind blowing mortality rates (P.S. these farms are also labelled “RSPCA Assured”).

You can watch an uncomfortable video on factory farming and marketing here.

Vegan for health

There are many documented possible health benefits from following a plant based diet including lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

This has to be caveated to say that health benefits are only likely to come about by following a healthy vegan diet which is mostly based on wholefoods such as vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts. 

Many people experience health benefits from eating a vegan diet, not to mention the fact that it is often quicker and cheaper. It is also a huge myth that vegans struggle to get enough protein!

Another concern is the huge amount of the world’s antibiotics that are used in livestock to prevent disease, however this could lead to antibiotic resistance in both humans and animals in the future.

Not all vegan food is “healthy” simply because it does not contain animal products. There is a huge range of not-so-healthy vegan food available now and large fast food chains are also bringing out plant based options due to demand from their customers – Burger King are aiming to be 50% plant based by 2031

All this choice is wonderful and can be used to help transition to a vegan diet and for the occasional indulgence!

What about supporting local farmers?

Even though you may not be buying local meat from the UK/Scotland you can still support local farmers by buying your veg locally. 

Transport is a very small part of our food’s carbon footprint (usually less than 1% for beef) so meat being local does not change its impact very much. The term “food miles” is more complicated than people think – you can read more about it here in the Eco Savvy food pack.

Vegan Arran

Arran is amazing for vegan food! Our wonderful restaurants, cafes and takeaways offer some excellent vegan options. Have a look at:

The Co-op have a plant based food range called “Gro”. There are some delicious options to make trying vegan food really simple and convenient.

There are also regular vegan meet-ups organised by the Arran Vegan Group – you can join their facebook page here.
You can also find out about lots of Arran foodie events by subscribing to Eco Savvy’s monthly Arran food updates newsletter here.

Some film recommendations

Are you interested? What to do next!

Pop over to the Veganuary website and have a look. You can get a starter kit, download a free cookbook, access meal plans. There’s also a facebook page you can join.

And also have fun – trying veganism for a month can be an exciting and positive experience which is good for the animals, the planet and your health!

Ruth - Eco Savvy

Things that motivate me: climate justice & addressing all forms of inequality & protecting animals, wildlife & our environment.

ruth.ecosavvy@gmail.com

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