Veganuary hits two million sign-ups
Veganuary, the global pledge to try following a vegan lifestyle for 31 days, has celebrated a huge milestone. A total of two million people have officially signed up since the pledge first began in 2014. Last year, more than 582,000 people from 209 countries and territories took part in Veganuary, breaking all previous records.
Veganuary was created on a kitchen table in York, UK, by husband-and-wife team, Matthew and Jane Glover in 2014. Since then, the movement has made newspaper headlines around the world – from the front page of the Times and New Scientist to features in the Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian Australia and South China Morning Post.
A global evolution
The organisation now has campaign hubs in seven countries – UK, US, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and India. It has also welcomed participants from every country in the world except for North Korea and Vatican City. For some, the experience was life-changing. One woman from Devon in the UK lost seven stone (44.5kg) and went from couch potato to triathlete; a 70-year-old woman in California lowered her blood pressure, cholesterol and no longer registers as pre-diabetic; and a woman in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) started her own vegan mail-order company to help other people take on the challenge, too.
Some famous participants among the two million include Sir Paul McCartney, Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, actor Joaquin Phoenix and even New York City Mayor Eric Adams. All of these guys are now ambassadors for the charity. In 2020, KFC and Burger King joined the party with fast-food Veganuary launches. McDonald’s joined them in 2021.
The meat-free movement
Official Veganuary participant numbers have grown year on year, from just 3300 in 2014 to 582,000 in 2021. However, data analytics firm Kantar says the number of people who have “done Veganuary” without officially signing up is actually 10 times greater.
“When my wife Jane and I decided to launch a new year’s vegan pledge in 2014 we expected only 1000 people to take part,” says Veganuary co-founder and Chair Matthew Glover. “More than 3000 signed-up. We were blown away.
“Now Veganuary is as big a feature in the retail calendar as Christmas, reflecting the ever-increasing number of people choosing plant-based food. Two million official Veganuary participants in just eight years is a huge achievement, but the explosion in plant-based products that has accompanied it is truly revolutionising the future of food.”
Veganuary: benefits & impact
Last year, 43,982 Veganuary 2021 participants took part in a survey. Here’s what they said about their experiences and motivation to take the pledge:
1. 46% said animals were their number one motivation for signing up, followed by personal health (22%) and the environment (21%). Other reasons were for a change/challenge/ curiosity (5%), global health (4%) and for a friend/partner/family member (2%).
2. Nearly three-quarters (74%) were still eating meat and/or fish when they signed up to take part; 24% were vegetarian and 12% were vegan.
3. The majority (65%) were aged between 25 and 54, followed by 55-64 (15%) and 18-24 (14%). Eighty-five percent were female and 13% were male.
4. Before participating in Veganuary, 30% planned to stay vegan at the end of their pledge, but after participating 40% now plan to stay vegan.
5. Of those not staying vegan, 75% plan to at least halve their intake of animal products going forward; 75% are very/extremely likely to try vegan again in the future.
6. In total, 85% of participants will permanently change their diet either by staying vegan or at least halving their intake of animal products.
7. The number one reason people decided to stay vegan is that it was easier than expected (23%), followed by learning more about veganism (22%).
8. 50% saw an improvement to their overall health, with increased energy (49%), improved mood (46%), better skin (38%) and weight loss (38%) being the most common benefits.
The chance to change
Six months after completing their one-month Veganuary challenge, 82 percent of those participants who weren’t vegan when they signed up have maintained a dramatic reduction in their animal product consumption. Thirty percent now eat a fully vegan diet.
Thirty-eight percent are eating 75 percent less meat and other animal products than pre-Veganuary; 14 percent are eating at least 50 percent less meat and other animal products.
These results are good news for the planet. A leaked report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated: “A shift to diets with a higher share of plant-based protein in regions with excess consumption of calories and animal-source food can lead to substantial reductions in emissions, while also providing health benefits… Plant-based diets can reduce emissions by up to 50 percent compared to the average emission-intensive Western diet.”
Veganuary is free to join. People can sign-up at the Veganuary website to receive daily emails packed with nutritional info, delicious recipes, easy meal plans and helpful advice.