By Jack Hudson
2019’s Veganuary has been the most successful since the charity, which offers advice and encouragement for people to go vegan for January, began in 2014. This year, 250,000 people signed up to the campaign, equal to the number that took part in all previous years put together. Full statistics are yet to be released for 2019, but in 2018 18-24 year olds were one of the biggest demographics that took part in the campaign. The success of the campaign is likely helped by the fact that it is in January, when many have a desire to make a change in their life.
Some have criticised veganuary as a fad and questioned the value of going vegan for only one month. However, the charity encourages people to stay vegan permanently, and supports people in going vegan throughout the year. In 2018, 62% of participants remained vegan. Giving people the opportunity to try veganism for a month leads to many discovering for themselves that being vegan is easier than they thought it would be, and helps them learn about all the great options available. The most important success of Veganuary is that it increases the number of vegans in the UK permanently.
Another benefit of Veganuary is that many companies have introduced new vegan options. Most of these are chains that have restaurants in Cardiff. TGI Fridays introduced a new ‘bleeding’ vegan burger, Frankie and Benny’s added more than 20 vegan options, Pieminister brought out a vegan pie, Zizzi’s added a rainbow vegan pizza to its already impressive vegan menu and Pizza Hut introduced a jackfruit vegan pizza (though this became unavailable in the Queen street store midway through January, and has not yet been added to the menu full-time). McDonald’s introduced a veggie wrap which is vegan (though Cardiff students looking for better McDonald’s-style vegan options should visit the Greazy Vegan- which offers proper burgers like the Big Moc!)
This adds to many new options that were added throughout 2018 (including new options in supermarkets, and new vegan restaurants and cafes), and means we have now reached a point where the majority of Cardiff restaurants have good vegan options. This is important in making it easier for students to be vegan, as it removes any worries about being able to eat in places their meat-eating friends like to eat.
Cardiff student Iona Frenguelli went vegan for Veganuary last year and has remained vegan; “I wasn’t sure I would pull it off but over a year later I don’t think I’ll ever go back!” She believes being vegan is good for students as it can mean cheaper options. Although some see veganism as expensive, “in reality you don’t need to have avocados or chia seeds with every meal to be a healthy vegan”.
Tim Cooper has gone vegan for Veganuary this year, and said “Your options are much more limited as a vegan, however I do feel better about myself”. He believes veganism can be a time consuming thing for students to undertake, but the planning needed does mean you eat “better and healthier”.
Vegan options had been on the rise throughout 2018, and this Veganuary seems to have completed a cultural shift; veganism is now a lot more mainstream than it was a few years ago. It’s now easier to be vegan than ever before, and there’s no need to wait until next January if you want to make a better choice for your health, the environment and animal welfare!