Organisers of Veganuary are gearing up for their biggest ever year next month since the meat-free pledge was launched seven years ago, thanks to a wave in consumers tucking into more plant-based foods during the lockdown and greater concern about health and the environment.
The UK based campaign, which since 2014 has asked people to pledge to follow a diet free of animal products in January, has set a target of 500,000 signatories worldwide and hopes to reach 350,00 by today.
A record 400,000 people signed up to the campaign last year, compared with 250,000 participants in 2019 and 170,000 in 2018.
Marco Settembri, the chief executive of Nestlé (Europe, Middle East and North Africa) said that a well-planned plant-based diet could meet nutritional needs during all stages of life where there are environmental and health benefits too.
He said that this year he was passing the baton and encouraging all employees to partake in Veganuary and signup to the challenge and that he was happy to be part of this campaign as it expanded across Europe and beyond.
Among other large companies whose leadership teams are supporting the campaign are the leading accountancy firms PwC and EY, the media company Bloomberg, Marks & Spencer and the UK’s largest meat-free brand, Quorn.
Philip Watson, Quorn’s UK and Europe commercial director said that their goal was to provide healthy food for people and the planet by backing Veganuary 2021 and they aim to get nearer to their 2030 target of 8 billion meat-free servings a year worldwide.
April Preston, the director of product development at Marks & Spencer, said the retailer would be also expanding its vegan own label Plant Kitchen range.
She said the M&S food leadership team was getting fully involved and would be creating a sequence of fun, weekly videos that will be shared internally, comparing different Plant Kitchen products and their meat counterparts and discovering which come out on top.
Even before the pandemic UK manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants and pub chains were scrambling to tap into not only the burgeoning vegan market but also the large number adopting flexitarian diets for people who enjoy meat and dairy but want to eat less of it.
Many people go vegan, although don’t believe that they’ll like it and they genuinely do. So, for all those sceptics out there, do some research.
The thing is if you picture this in your head. There are two burgers on your plate, one is plant, and the other is a chunk of dead flesh – why choose the flesh when the plant tastes the same when prepared correctly – it could also make you healthier and feel much better.
Vegan food tends to be trial and error. I prefer Quorn, but some people prefer plant-based. Just cook them as if you were cooking meat and don’t be scared to add extras like pepper and seasoning.
It’s quite straightforward really. There are lots of people who enjoy vegan meals, but some also enjoy the taste of meat but don’t want to eat a dead animal, so they get something like it that’s made out of plant and that tastes like it.
And are you aware of all the hormones and antibiotics that your meat is full of? Are you aware of the chemicals used to prevent your meat from going green on the shelves?
There are a lot of people that have moved to a plant-based diet. Most probably won’t ever give up meat 100 per cent, but I know that I’m feeling better for the change.