Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January. The number of participants for Veganuary in 2021 was 582,000 which was a 45% increase on those who signed up in 2020.
Figure 1: 2021 Vegauary 2021 campaign report – Data from Veganuary. 
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that 300,000 participants have already signed up for Veganuary 2022 (as of the 28th of December 2021) , with the previous year’s total expected to be easily surpassed again , as has been the case each year.  As a result of the 2021 campaign, 85% of participants in 2021 stated that they plan to remain on a vegan diet or at least halve their intake of animal products afterwards. 
36% of adults in the UK believe eating a vegan diet is “an admirable thing to do”, according to a recent YouGov poll carried out on behalf of Veganuary. Likewise, 8% of UK adults confirmed that they were already following a vegan diet.  Furthermore, meat consumption appears to be falling in some developed nations (in the UK, a decrease of 17% in the last decade ); however, it is worth noting that global meat consumption is on the rise. 
Why Are People Going Vegan This January?
The most common reasons for going vegan are for:
- Animal welfare.
- Personal health.
- The environment.
In 2021 the leading motivating reason was for animal welfare at 46%, health at 22%, and the environment at 21% . Although environmental reasons appear to place third for the 2021 campaign, this does represent an increase from that of 2020, where 18% signed up for the environment.
Limited agreements to tackle climate change are being made on a global scale, with the most recent conference being COP26 held in Glasgow in November 2021. The focus has been on renewable energy, electric cars, deforestation, and financial support for poorer nations. Unfortunately, public policy to shift towards a reduction of meat consumption in tackling climate change is lacking.
Earlier this year Bill Gates stated that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.  In contrast, Boris Johnson quipped in response to being questioned on eating less meat: “I’m eating a bit less of everything, which may be an environmentally friendly thing to do.” 
Earlier this year, the UK government denied there would be a meat tax following a proposal that was removed soon after being published.  This is despite a noteworthy comprehensive peer-reviewed study  published by Oxford University in 2018 confirming that reducing meat and dairy intake is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on the planet; “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” – Joseph Poore, University of Oxford.
It is apparent that individual consumer choice is way ahead of government action in wealthier nations. Although a carbon tax on meat has been suggested previously, many individuals are already making a change to support the environment by signing up to Veganuary whereby resources are made available, including a free celebrity e-cookbook, nutritional tips, available restaurants, and a shopping guide. Furthermore, much of the shift from individuals and organisations rather than government intervention is due to recent noteworthy documentaries explaining the destructive environmental effects of meat and dairy consumption. Over half of those who watched Seaspiracy, a documentary describing the adverse environmental effects of fishing , considered giving up fish. 
What Options Are Available This Veganuary?
The most notable addition to meat-free options will be the ‘McPlant’ burger, made from Beyond Meat , which was launched at 250 McDonald’s restaurants in October; however, it will be available at all McDonald’s restaurants in the UK this coming January. 
Amongst other notable product launches in January are:
- Babybel is introducing a dairy-free version of their cheese; 
- Subway is launching ‘Tastes Like Chicken’ (TLC) and ‘Tastes Like Steak’ (TLS) options 
- Krispy Kreme is providing three new vegan doughnuts. 
Whilst not everyone is going vegan this coming January, reducing meat and dairy consumption has never been easier with the significant number of options and resources now available. Whether the motivation is for environmental reasons or otherwise, Veganuary supports those who sign up to try Veganism in January.
Despite inaction from governments to support the shift to sustainable food sources, the number of people making a transition to their diet through individual consumer choice appears to be on the rise in developed nations. ‘Peak meat’ consumption in Europe and North America is expected in 2025.  Support for those in developing nations is ever the more needed as global meat consumption is on the rise. 
It remains to be seen if governmental action on food production will be taken (in the form of a carbon food tax or otherwise) or if campaigns like Veganuary will be the primary source for change in the years to come.
Further information can be found on the Veganuary website https://veganuary.com/.
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Thumbnail image accreditation: Vegan Black LT Sandwich by Roam In Colour (July 2018) on Unsplash.com. Last accessed on January 4th 2021. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/pRKDJZWNUvY