If your year’s been anything like mine, you’ll be more than a little shocked to find out that January 2021 is already upon us, bringing with it not only New Years’ resolutions and the start of a new term at Durham, but also Veganuary. Whether you’re already a vegan or a full-time meat-eater, you’ve probably heard of Veganuary before. Founded in 2014 by the Vegan Society, the aim of the challenge is simple: go the whole month of January without consuming any animal products. That means no milk, no eggs, no honey, no meat, and no fish, all the foods that have no doubt been consumed in copious amounts over the holiday season!
If you consider yourself a meat lover, or just don’t consider your dietary choices at all, the first question that comes to mind when someone mentions Veganuary is probably, why? You wouldn’t be alone; we’ve given up so much already this past year, it may seem like too much to have to give up some of your favourite foods as well. So, why? Why Veganuary, and why now?
First of all, I think we’ve all gotten more comfortable with helping others in 2020. This has been a year where all of us have been called upon to make choices for the benefit of other people. Even with the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines, I don’t see why that spirit of helping others should have to end. Veganuary is a very simple way of continuing to act with others in mind into 2021, even if those ‘others’ are a little more hairy, and walk on four legs instead of two. Veganuary 2020 saved the lives of approximately one million animals, and 2021 is set to the biggest year yet for the challenge; joining Veganuary doesn’t just contribute to saving those lives, it also allows you to be part of a supportive and caring community, something we all need after the last year of isolation.
Not only that, but giving up animal products for a month is no longer a sacrifice. There have never been more vegan alternatives available than there are right now, with more options set to be released in 2021. The (in)famous Greggs vegan sausage roll will now be available, with its vegan steak bake counterpart, for purchase in Iceland, almost all major supermarkets now have a dedicated vegan and meat-free section, and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant without at least one vegan option. In this era of the takeaway, that means you can easily get vegan food delivered straight to your door, no effort involved; and if you’re a fan of a home-cooked meal, the Durham Vegetarian and Vegan Society will be sharing their favourite vegan recipes on their blog throughout the month.
In summary, I don’t see how you can go wrong by spending a month trying new, good food, supporting local business, and picking up a few new tricks in the kitchen, all while living a lifestyle that’s statistically better for your health, the planet, and your wallet. If, however, you’re still not convinced, the Society will be also sharing blog posts from members and exec full of tips, tricks, and good reasons to join the challenge. All of these can be found here on our Veganuary Facebook group, which gives you the chance to join a growing community of Durham students dedicated to the challenge. So if you’re asking why about Veganuary 2021, how about asking, why not?
All images courtesy of Durham University Vegetarian and Vegan Society