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The start of a new year is traditionally associated with making resolutions. This often involves making positive changes in one’s life that can serve a greater purpose, benefit oneself, and improve one’s overall quality of life. For many people, becoming more health-conscious and prioritizing good nutrition is at the top of the list. And for those interested in taking a vegan approach, ‘Veganuary’ is a good place to start. 

A word-creation combining ‘Vegan’ and ‘January,’ Veganuary is a UK-based initiative that seeks to encourage and support “people and businesses alike to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people.” In a clever play on words, the movement aptly blurs the lines between resolution and revolution, establishing itself as an important advocate for health, ethics, and awareness of the impact that animal (product) consumption has on the environment. As the nonprofit’s mission statement makes clear, Veganuary seeks to better the lives of all living beings and stands for the harmonious coexistence between the people and the planet.

“Since 2014, Veganuary has inspired and supported more than one million people in 192 countries to try vegan for January – and beyond. We have worked with businesses to drive up vegan food provision in shops and restaurants, and have made veganism more visible and accessible through our work with national and international media.” ~ Veganuary.com

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Within the last several years, veganism has become increasingly popular. The upward trend in veganism largely coincides with its acceptance into the mainstream media. With the number of people turning to a plant-based diet increasing at a steady rate, this in turn encourages the production and invention of more vegan alternatives to animal-based food products. Whether strictly vegan or living a mostly plant-based diet, the consumer is no longer required to compromise on essentially any conventional products due to the abundance of plant-based alternatives. 

Despite counter-arguments and a natural degree of resistance, the benefits of veganism have become increasingly clear. According to ChooseVeg, data from 2016 shows that eating a vegan diet reduces your carbon footprint by 50%, promotes longevity, and reduces the risk of heart disease or stroke. In fact, “researchers at McGill University and McMaster University found that study participants who consumed the most fruits and veggies were 30% less likely to experience a stroke.” In addition to these outstanding benefits, a vegan will save the lives of approximately 30 animals each year and save 1,100 gallons of water and 45 pounds of grain each day. 

[bf_image id="kq6vwpjh6cf7kj4cnrr8jjxb"] This is where Veganuary comes in: people enjoy and seek challenges, and Veganuary provides for such people a structure that offers support and increases success. This comes in the form of daily newsletters with helpful tips, guides, and recipes, in addition to cookbooks, and even online forums for discussion.

In addition, committing to Veganuary has a motivating effect in the sense that you’re not alone in your undertaking, but rather accompanied by hundreds of thousands of people every year. Of course, the positive effects and benefits associated with veganism may only become noticeable after a considerable time as a vegan. As such, the effectiveness of committing to only one month of veganism can be equated to exercising intensely for one month only to give it up at the turn of the calendar. At the very least, however, you will have spent one month understanding what it takes to eat balanced meals, what is like to live as a vegan, and you will have developed a more attentive attitude in regard to what you put on your plate and how you consume.

In essence, Veganuary’s goal is to raise awareness about the far-reaching benefits of veganism. This movement can help one ease into the new lifestyle and become more open and flexible to nutritional alternatives, all the while acknowledging that veganism does involve a degree of planning, preparation, and thought. Principally, Veganuary implores consciousness of our own actions and how our decisions effect different aspects of the greater world we are all a part of.

Chantal is a junior at UC Davis, where she is pursuing a BA in Communication and Art History. She is half-German and spends most of her breaks in Hamburg, Germany, her second home. Along with writing, her passions include photography, travel, and sustainability. In her free time you'll find her training for a marathon or trying out a new vegan recipe.
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