By the end of January 2021, 582,538 people agreed to sign-up for Veganuary, a UK-based non-profit organisation that encourages people to try a vegan diet for at least a month. This was a substantial increase from a record 400,000 people in 2020. And now it’s just a simple question of how many will sign-up for Veganuary this year.
In 2020, the questions, ‘What is Veganism?’, ‘How does Veganism affect climate change?’, and ‘The sustainability of Veganism’ were the top three searches on the subject, and we aim to answer some of these questions and many others in this post.
What is Veganuary and Veganism?
Before we trace the vegetarian roots of veganism, let’s just explain exactly what it really means to be part of this rapidly growing community.
For those of you who have been sitting in a masked bubble of Covid and government lockdown gatherings, a vegan diet involves abstaining from animal products such as meat, fish, dairy produce, and eggs.
And Veganuary is now a serious business.
It’s not just a serious business for those who are already associated with a philosophy that rejects the idea of animals being used as a commodity status, but it’s particularly profound for the companies involved in promoting its benefits and, ultimately, for the future of sustaining our planet.
I, like many others, have been ignorant of its benefits and, if we are looking to sustain this planet’s future for our children and the generations of our children’s children, we need to look at opening up a plant-based can of whup-ass on the problem.
One-third of Brits interested in becoming vegan.
If The Guardian newspaper is correct, I’m now part of the 33.3% of Brits who have become more interested in becoming a vegan in 2022.
Veganuary is not exactly a new concept either but, when The Economist declared 2019 to be “the year of the vegan”, you have to admit that if veganism is shifting the economy, it has already switched something on within each of us and shifted the balance towards a lifestyle of different choices.
Abstinence is present in most faiths and religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism all clearly state that abstinence from eating all living creatures must be adhered to in order to reach a level of transcendence, with the cow being at the heart of significance in Hinduism.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have days or periods of fasting. Ash Wednesday and Ramadan are particular times in which both prayer and fasting are considered to be a conscious choice to enhance life.
With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that vegetarianism can be traced to a region in the Indian subcontinent where civilisations advocated a strict, meat-free diet, about 5,000 years ago.
The celebrities of today, people such as Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding, David Duchovny, Miley Cyrus, Kim Basinger and Morrisey – who claims to have been vegan for three decades – exercise their status to speak out on such matters of importance like climate change, equality, and their intentions to sign-up for Veganuary.
Many famous poets, philosophers, and emperors of yesteryear expressed their concerns for eating something’s flesh and remonstrated in favour of a life of abstinence.
Although famous for a mathematical theorem that we are all religiously taught at school and then totally disregarded for the rest of our lives, Pythagoras was allegedly so distinguished with such a pure heart that he not only abstained from animal foods but he also avoided cooks and hunters.
Despite being unable to fully comprehend why it is so important to keep measuring angles of triangles, I believe there is something concerning about the fact that, upon reflection, we often find ourselves quoting people from thousands of years ago as a mantra of how we should live today.
I can’t help thinking that, despite evolution, technical advancements, scientific discoveries, increases in wealth, life expectancy, access to medicines, an abundance of material possessions, and the rise of supermarkets, the wisdom and the advice that was dispensed centuries ago was provided as a warning in case we somewhat allowed our political system to get out of control and perhaps – shall we say – become unrestrained consumers.
In a way, the wisdom from a land that time has almost forgot stands the test of time because the message carries more creditability today than it did a thousand years ago – it appears more relevant and profound. In hindsight, we didn’t pay much attention in History classes and we have now, quite possibly, monumentally destroyed our planet beyond repair.
We live in an age where dairy cows are impregnated to induce lactation, the calf is removed from its mother after just 24 hours and then it is fed a formula milk (a milk replacement) to retain and preserve the cow’s milk for human consumption. In the world of egg production, male chicks are culled as they fail to provide the same commodity as their female siblings.
Taking these two important but small elements of factory farming into consideration, it’s hard for anyone to consider this kind of factory farming to be anything other than unethical, and it brings me back to the words of Indian, Greek, and Arab philosophers who advocated
abstinence from animal food, killing, and spirituous liquors – all of which have played their part in our failures and moral demise over the last 3000 years.
Consequently, we live in a world where half the world struggles to consume enough calories whilst the other half are seeking medical reassurance to combat issues surrounding the consumption of too much food. Whilst there is no condemnation for enjoying food, we need to relieve the NHS from the strain of obesity and perhaps source our nutrition more responsibly and encourage governments to help keep the costs of healthier products to a minimum.
Has the time now come for us to eat to live, and not live to eat?
The forces of demand and profit have encouragingly kept supermarkets on-trend, with supermarkets now stocking more vegan options that ever before.
In 2018, Waitrose – the supermarket that previously had a reputation to rival Shell Oil – added a dedicated vegan section to over 130 stores, and now even the fast-food companies, previously labelled as being irresponsible in the eyes of profit, have launched vegan options to its menus.
With retail demand for vegan products increasing year-on-year since 2016, it won’t be long before the UK market for meat-free foods is worth well over £1 billion annually. Before we know it, Bond villains will be holding vegetables and soya milk to ransom in exchange for nuclear warheads.
Of course, social media is responsible for influencing lifestyle choices, and veganism does not escape the TikTok trends, the sycophantic bandwagons, the narcissism, one-upmanship, and attractive people in swimsuits advocating a meat-free protein drink on a private jet bound for a tax-free, Caribbean paradise.
#vegan now has more followers than a Kardashian’s tofu lunch with more than 119 million posts listed on Instagram.
Veganism is a hot topic right now and social media has brought animal-free products to the forefront of the consumer’s mind, placing it right in the metaphorical centre of a silver platter at a Tory party cheese and wine evening, during a nationwide lockdown in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
The influence of influences.
The combination of increased availability of products and the influence of influences culminates to form a motivational factor so big that it can only drive the growth of the vegan movement to unprecedented levels this year.
It almost seems inevitable that this year’s interest for veganism could reach such levels that we won’t be asking how many people sign-up for Veganuary this year but how many won’t consider signing-up.
It’s a young woman’s game.
Since its launch in 2014, Veganuary https://veganuary.com/ asks us to ‘try vegan for January and beyond’ – that was the slogan – and it appears as if young females are leading the way and driving the growth for health reasons, weight management, animal welfare, and environmental concerns, with twice as many women turning to veganism than men.
In fact, an even more startling figure is that, in 2019, only 13% of those who signed up for Veganuary were men.
“Throw some more avocados stuffed with chickpeas on the barbie!”
If you’re thinking that maybe the reason why as many men don’t sign-up for Veganuary as women is because it’s a primitive, macho, carnivorous characteristic, you could be mistaken.
Australia is renowned for hunky, beer-swigging men throwing dead things on live fires to cook but, starting from as early as about 2015, when Australia was topping Google’s worldwide search for the word ‘vegan’, Australia is now the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world, behind China and the UAE.
The Hainan Province is home to China’s one and only tropical rainforest. A quarter of China’s mammal diversity and a third of the country’s entire bird diversity that reside here must be breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that China is making a concerted effort to reduce the number of creatures it eats. It’s great news for them and it’s good for the planet.
“If we sign-up for Veganuary, where will we get our protein from?”
Protein intake is a big concern for anyone involved in sports and fitness. If meat, fish, eggs and milk are removed from a diet, where is the protein coming from to build muscle?
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-bcaa.
There are 20 different types of amino acids and 9 of these are considered ‘essential’, meaning that they must be obtained through diet because the body doesn’t naturally produce them.
During my active years I was always mixing raw eggs with whey powder, counting nutritional values, observing calories, and eating cans of tuna between meals.
However, what changed my opinion of where protein can be obtained from is the clever marketing angle behind the vegan, plant-based protein drink, Gorilla Juice – gorillajuicepro.com
Build muscle like a gorilla.
One striking factor about gorillas is their muscle mass. They don’t eat meat, they are big, hairy, and extremely strong. They have the combined strength of about 20 men and they could bench-press about 800 kgs.
The guys at Gorilla Juice have wisely built a product around the gorilla’s ability to maintain muscle mass through, essentially, eating a vegan diet. In doing so, they are doing their bit for the planet by, not only producing a plant-based protein drink but also supplying it in three yummy flavours – Strawberry, Caramel Latte and sweet Matcha.
Finally, somebody made a plant-based protein drink that tastes nice.
The most important meal of the day.
During an evening meal once, I refused to eat a bone-ridden trout my mother had prepared. I told her that the solution was for me to go to bed immediately. She seemed confused as to how this would resolve my hunger and compliment her work in the kitchen.
I explained that, upon falling to sleep, I would forget my hunger and wake up to breakfast: the meal my mother always regarded as ‘the most important meal of the day’.
Alas, instead of a bowl of cereals, toast, eggs, and grapefruit, the damn trout was greeting me at 7 a.m.; half-eaten and staring menacingly at a box of cornflakes.
My mother concluded that she stuck by her slogan that breakfast was, in fact, the best meal of the day, and trout would be an excellent source of protein to start the day.
See what Youtube personality and clinical psychologist, professor Jordan Peterson says about the importance of breakfast-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuQxOxVq3eY.
“You don’t have to like your breakfast”, he says, “just eat it!” He sounds like my mother.
What do vegans eat for breakfast?
I’m glad we reached this question because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and, if like me, you are a part-time vegan or considering going a step further this veganuary, breakfast is a great place to start with your vegan journey.
And here’s why…
Sign-up to Veganuary by trying a delicious vegan breakfast each day
Here are seven great choices, one for each day, to start doing your bit for the planet.
These are, literally, tasters with a full list of recipes attached at the end. See if you agree with our favourites.
1. Vegan fry-up
We Brits love a fry-up. As every European restaurant owner at a cheap travel destination will tell you, “We like to entice the British with large, faded pictures of cooked breakfasts outside our establishments.”
The English breakfast is part of our constitution, it’s more famous than Brexit and mentioned more times than Harry Kane.
We spend hours seeking the words ‘English breakfast’ whenever we set foot on foreign soil.
Well, you can now have a healthier, vegan version that is likely to keep your cholesterol low and life-expectancy high.
One thing I haven’t managed to find yet is a good vegan sausage. I’m told they do exist if you shop around but I always find myself resorting back to Richmond’s meat-free variety, which I don’t like.
You still get the mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans in this classic, and the scrambled tofu and peanut butter hash browns are awesome together.
2. Protein Pancakes
With 29g of protein per serving, there are no worries about getting off to a good start. It’s obviously a soya milk and quinoa flour base, with almonds, mashed banana and a coconut milk oil.
You can try all kinds of toppings for flavour. Personally, I like honey but someone recently informed me that honey is probably the product that is most frequently mistaken as vegan-friendly.
You see, the bees make the honey for themselves and not especially for us or bears. I was always under the impression that bee keepers are nice folk who love the environment and they help to increase bee populations with their harvesting techniques.
Their health can be sacrificed – they can even starve – due to the very harvesting process that I and many others believe to be for the good of the hive. The bee keeper may clip the wings of the queen to prevent her from leaving the hive and, as in many other industries, profit is the main commercial gain here and not the welfare of anything else.
The good thing is that there is a vegan variety of honey. Unfortunately, it’s quite expensive so you may have to settle for an alternative sweetener with your pancakes.
3. Summer Porridge
Of course, the oats themselves are vegan, it’s just a matter of what you use to prepare them with. You can use water and some say that it makes the oats creamier but I just think it tastes like something Oliver Twist would have been given for breakfast.
The chia seeds are a great source of protein and, again, I like my porridge with honey and so we are back to the common misconception about the bees again.
As with many vegan breakfast recipes, maple syrup is encouraged and so you will eventually find yourself beginning to feel if you are helping to prop up the North American economy at some point, which, in some ways, sounds unethical within itself.
4. Vegan Granola
I enjoyed this. For me, it’s up there with the fry-up and the pancakes. However, after all the preparation, I was of the opinion that I could just buy the equivalent in a box and just throw it into a bowl with almond milk to save the washing up. It’s an idea anyway.
5. Avocado and tomatoes on toast with a balsamic glaze.
It’s not amongst the BBC’s recipe but I had it for breakfast on the morning I wrote this… and it’s great. I use wholemeal bread and the balsamic vinegar is and always will be vegan – it’s made from grapes if you didn’t already know – and it’s very quick and easy to make.
However, I must confess, I made a terrible mistake with the spread. I had been using an olive oil spread on my toast but it had all been used up, and so I used the last of the Lurpak, which tastes great – don’t get me wrong – but its dairy inclusion means that I failed to adhere to the laws of veganism and let the planet down at a time when I was doing so well.
6. Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are a good source of protein, they are full of antioxidants and contain the illusive omega-3. It’s widely known that the benefits of chia seeds, with their highly nutritious polyunsaturated fatty acids, outweigh any kind of objectives you may have about this highly diverse recipe.
Try sprinkling chia seeds over cereals or use them with flapjack recipes for that added protein boost.
Chia pudding can be eaten at breakfast or as a dessert. It’s not my favourite on the list but we are talking breakfast here: the most important meal of the day. You don’t have to like it, just eat it.
7. Sunshine Smoothie
Finally, if you’d rather drink your breakfast, this smoothie is my favourite one of the vegan varieties. I’m not a fan of carrot juice so I played around with several different fruit juices.
The great thing about a smoothie is that you can drink them on the move and you can also add whatever vegan ingredients you prefer. Again, I blend chia seeds in with mine and I found that mango also worked well with this.
Which will you be tempted to try first? The full list of BBC, vegan breakfast recipes: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/vegan-breakfast-recipes
Reasons to sign-up for Veganuary
The majority of people sign-up for Veganuary due to health reasons. Meat continually gets bad press with regards to the over-consumption of red meats in particular.
When we consider the environmental issues of factory farming, this immediately draws the attention of another group of people who are committed to protecting the welfare of animals and sustaining the eco-system of our planet.
Whatever reasons you have to sign-up for Veganuary, you will have the satisfaction in knowing that it has tremendous health benefits and you are doing your bit – no matter how small and significant it seems at first – for planet Earth.
Things ain’t what they used to be
We touched upon how our ancestors have conveniently been sending messages through the metaphorical, historic postal system, warning us of how unregulated economic systems that lead to greed, inequality, and overconsumption could place a burden on our wellbeing and the health of our planet.
Fifty-one years ago, Marvin Gaye wrote the song, ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’. It was historically recent in terms of the Indian and Greek philosophers who dispensed their worldly advice, but you’d like to think that it’s environmental message in its heartfelt lyric would be enough to resonate and begin a change in people’s attitudes towards the environment.
In 1971, the song highlighted how oceans were polluted and mercury was found within fish. Exactly a year ago, fifty-years on, microplastics were discovered in a human placenta for the very first time.
Things certainly ain’t what they used to be, they are worse than ever, and a serious commitment to change needs to take place.
Commercial fishing has become a war and the highly competitive techniques used to trawl the ocean floor have become ridiculously unsustainable.
Some fishing boats are using nets large enough to scoop a jumbo jet from the sea.
The shark fin soup drama is not a westernised spin on the reality of a barbaric trade – I’ve witnessed it in Malaysia – it’s happening and it is arguably the most shocking example of how commercial greed has overwhelmed and thwarted our sense of decency.
It pains me to say that I may have to avoid the fish market in Nice from now on, forfeit the Butterfish in West Africa and refuse the fantastic Barracuda in a white wine, lime and cream sauce in the Caribbean.
Although local fishing in the developing world is relatively tame and merely scratching the surface of the ocean compared to the large-scale exploits of westernised countries, the idea of consuming plastic doesn’t appetise me at all.
I recently purchased some vegan Applewood smoked cheese and, although its objectionable taste and consistency resembled that of a rubber boot, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m not literally consuming a microscopic element of a flipflop, discarded in the Mediterranean by a drunken tourist.
Food for thought this Veganuary and beyond.
Although we have covered a lot in this blog, there is a lot more to learn – I still have much to learn on the subject myself – and there is an encyclopedia of facts that I have failed to include.
I am also more than aware that there is a nagging doubt lurking and alternative views to the benefit of veganism exist, including the point that, currently, it is extremely difficult to be completely vegan since animals are used for many other consumables, beyond the dinner table.
When we consider fashion, we not only focus on animals but we are also conscious of the human exploitation element. The top 10 clothing companies are currently worth over $150 Billion and some are responsible for using foreign labour, often earning as little as $4 a day.
I hope that this post has at least encouraged you to sign-up for Veganuary or consider alternative, vegan options in the future.
Currently we have the benefit of choice but, sooner or later, we are going to have to admit that we have been playing into the hands of a destructive element that has left us with an unnatural, poisoned planet with irreversible consequences.
Fortunately, there has been a noticeable change and fast-food companies are rebranding and changing the face of their menus. And, who knows, maybe one day, companies like KFC will not only change their menu but completely change their name.
If American social scientist, Jacy Reese, is to believed, veganism will completely replace animal-based food by the turn of the 22nd Century. In his book, ‘The End of Animal Farming’, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_Animal_Farming – which has nothing to do with a bunch of animals relinquishing a farm they mutinied after being mistreated by a commercial farmer – it details effective altruism and looks at humanity’s moral progress over the next 80 years.
Thanks for reading. Contact us for vegan ideas at a wedding or an event you are planning: https://www.citreuscatering.co.uk/contact-us/