If you haven’t heard of Veganuary then you must have been living in a cave with no wifi connection for the past couple of years.
The charity launched in 2013 with an impactful, global campaign encouraging people to try vegan for the month of January and ultimately beyond.
With a website full of helpful tips and advice on how to give up meat and ditch the dairy, an array of famous faces backing the campaign and the most passionate driving force behind it all, there’s no wonder that almost 60,000 people have taken the pledge to go vegan this month.
While this year’s campaign is well underway, we steal Veganary’s Founder Matthew Glover from his busy schedule to find out the reasons why people are signing up, how it all came about, what inspires him personally and what’s next for his global charity….
NTDF: Veganuary is now in full swing and an incredible 50K have signed up! What are the main reasons for people trying vegan this year?
MG: Yeah, it’s been a big success! In fact 58,000 have now signed up and by the end of January we should have passed 60,000 (hopefully). The primary motivation is always a concern for the welfare of animals, followed by health and environmental concerns. That being said a lot of people are linking it all together and realising that veganism ticks more than one box. We’ve definitely seen more people taking part as a result of the raised awareness that films like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives have created.
NTDF: How did the concept for Veganuary come about, what are its main objectives and how was it all launched?
MG: Veganuary was launched by myself and my wife and co-Founder Jane Land back in the Autumn of 2013. We liked the Movember concept and wanted to create a campaign which had a similar type of vibe and do the most good we could for animals. So we decided that the best thing people could do was try vegan and the best month would be January, hence the rather corny name, ‘Veganuary’. Our main objective is to help reduce the suffering of animals by encouraging as many people as possible to give it a go, whilst raising awareness of veganism and its benefits to people’s health, our planet and, of course, the billions of animals who are exploited every year.
NTDF: What kind of people do you find are signing up for Veganuary? Are they younger, older or a mix?
MG: We get a mix of people taking part from all the corners of the globe. There’s a much higher ratio of women to men (roughly 80/20 split) and the main age group is 25-34 year olds. We’ll be releasing all the demographic information at the end of the campaign as we’re keen that other groups and activists can learn from our experiences. This year, we’ve also been a lot stronger in the UK with around 60% of participants, followed by other English speaking countries such as the US, Australia and Canada.
NTDF: You currently have a very impactful poster campaign, featuring the adorable Ernie the piglet, Rocky the calf and Little Eric the chick, throughout the London Underground. What has the response been to this so far?
MG: Amazing! There’s over 3,000 people signed up directly as a result of the posters, but we think the reach has been much higher than that, with people taking pictures and sharing them on social media platforms. We’ve had an incredible amount of media attention and much of this has been influenced by our Tube campaign. We were surprised by how well the campaign was received by London vegans, it seems to have spread a lot of happiness and helped spur on more activism in the City, which is wonderful.
NTDF: Why is a vegan lifestyle so important to you personally?
MG: As I alluded to earlier I feel veganism ticks a lot of boxes. I had been vegetarian for many years and had increasingly become aware of climate change and our destruction of the natural world. When I started to join the dots up then it became a no-brainer for me to become a vegan and then start spreading the word. When I met Jane we had a shared passion and when we had the Veganuary idea then we suddenly had a vehicle for educating people.
NTDF: You have some well known faces helping to spread the Veganuary word. Which celebrities are involved this year and what are they doing to help?
MG: Yeah, every year we’ve had some big names get behind the campaign and this year is no different. Amanda Abbington of Sherlock fame has been taking part and helping to promote Veganuary. Stella McCartney’s company endorsed us which helped us reach a new audience. Peter Egan and Jack Monroe both took part last year, have stayed vegan and help spread the word. In the US, Kat Von D and Pamela Anderson have both recommended Veganuary, and there’s many others. It all helps raise awareness.
NTDF: What changes would you like to see within the food industry within the next 5 years?
MG: Well, there’s already positive steps being made with the development of plant-based meat, dairy and egg alternatives so it would be great to see that trend continue and accelerate. The US is really ahead of the UK in terms of innovative new start-ups so we need to be following their lead. We also need to be pushing the food industry to add more product lines and cater more for vegans, vegetarians and those interested in reducing their meat consumption. We’re going to put more effort into corporate outreach. We’ve had some great success with chain restaurants, with many of the big chains offering new menus and discounts for vegan options this January. There’s raised awareness so the vegan movement needs to capitalise on this. If we can start changing people’s behaviour by offering a wider choice or vegan options, then their attitude and eating habits will change over time.
NTDF: What would your top tips be for anyone thinking about adopting a vegan lifestyle?
MG: Our website is packed with top tips with a vegan starter kit, eating out guide, over 500 vegan recipes, nutrition information and so on. People need to do their research and feel comfortable that they’re going to be healthy, and satisfied with the range of food options. Also, it’s important for people to get support from like-minded people, especially other vegans. We have a fantastic Facebook group where people taking part in Veganuary can get the necessary help from other participants and existing vegans.
NTDF: What’s your favourite vegan dish?
MG: I don’t think I have a favourite dish, as there are so many options. I do like a good curry though!
NTDF: Veganuary looks as if it’s on it’s way to world domination! What’s next for the charity?
MG: We just want to keep growing the numbers and spreading the message as far as we can. We’re in our fourth year and have grown by around 280% per year. If we can maintain that growth over the next few years, then by 2029 the whole world will be vegan!
There is still plenty of time to sign up for Veganuary if you haven’t as yet. Simply register your details here to begin your vegan journey.