We are starting 2023 with a positive challenge for us all – to reduce our meat intake and go VEGAN for a month! After all, it’s a new year, everything is possible, and you CAN do it – as per this month’s theme: YouCANuary. Each month we will introduce a new theme for the month, with tasks and activities to get you involved with the month’s objective and to create a positive impact on your community and environment.
January has lately been known as Veganuary, where, after the Christmas holidays, you are invited to try the vegan diet for the entire month. The reason for taking part in Veganuary can be varied. You may want to do it purely for the challenge of it, for concerns about animal welfare, health reasons, or the environmental impact the meat diet has due to the industry’s contributions to climate change. Let’s dive in to find your WHY and learn about the benefits going vegan has!
Switching to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet means you’ll eliminate meat and animal products. This will lead you to rely more heavily on other foods. In the case of a whole-food vegan diet, replacements take the form of:
Since these foods make up a larger portion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet, they can lead to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients. Several studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more fibre, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E. Hence, clearly shows the health benefits of reducing meat intake in our diet.
There is a good chance that half the foods you already eat are vegan! Common accidentally vegan foods include pasta, rice, peanut butter and Marmite, most bread, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and kidney beans, jam and marmalade, coconut milk, curry pastes, tomato puree, baked beans, many crisps, crackers and biscuits, herbs and spices, many gravy granules, tea, coffee and fruit juice.
When trying a vegan diet for the first time, it’s important to plan ahead and ease yourself into it. There is no point in forcing yourself to do it perfectly when that would only create resentment instead of creating a lasting habit. You can start by replacing the food that you won’t miss at first, and start with one vegan meal a day, or a vegan day in a week – something that will make sense for you. There’s no right or wrong way to go vegan and small, steady steps have an impact over time. Before long, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
For almost every animal-derived ingredient and product, there is now a vegan alternative, and this means that a vegan meal may look and taste exactly like a non-vegan meal; it just doesn’t come with the animal suffering or the same environmental impact. Your daily menu can look something like this:
Switching to a vegan diet can have tremendous benefits for you, the animals, and the planet. You can save animals from a slaughterhouse or from living in a cage by opting to eat plant-based products. The more people who stop eating meat, the less demand there will be for it in supermarkets, which means they won’t buy so much and fewer animals will have to be slaughtered to sustain our diet.
It goes very similarly for the environmental impact of the meat diet. Animals, especially bigger animals with “red meat” – cattle, use up tremendous amounts of water as well as cause deforestation to grow their food. On top of that, cows produce methane when chewing their food, a greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change, which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. With more people opting out of eating meat, less need there is for livestock and the environmental impact is reduced.
By introducing more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods into our diet, our health will get a positive boost too. If you are struggling with eating your 5 a day, starting the vegan diet will help you with that! It tends to provide more fibre and antioxidants, but the key is to plan your meals ahead, especially if you are going vegan for the first time. You can also reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
During Veganuary in 2017, 66% of people who tried the vegan diet in January were still vegan 6 months later! What is even more impactful, more than half of those who took part also inspired someone else to go vegan since January (Source: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/news/six-months-on-and-did-veganuary-2017-make-any-difference/). Talk about creating a lasting change in one’s environment. So when your motivation is running low or you’re dealing with a late-night chocolate craving, remember why you wanted to make this change in the first place.
We hope that this blog post gave you a good understanding of why you should go vegan this YouCANuary and beyond. After all, after experiencing health benefits, minimising your environmental impact and eating all the delicious plant-based foods, how will you be able to resist! Sign up for the Veganuary challenge here: https://veganuary.com/try-vegan/?d=newsletter2231222
And remember, for this to be a sustainable lifestyle change, you need to do whatever works for you. You might prefer to transition one meal at a time or even one day at a time. You can download this Celebrity Cookbook (https://veganuary.com/get-your-celebrity-cookbook/) to kick start your vegan journey, and plan your month ahead with these delicious recipes to start you off https://veganuary.com/recipes/
We at Arc are actively encouraging our community to take positive climate action, and reducing your meat intake is one of the single most impactful ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You can take part in our Arc Footprint Leaderboard where the person with the most improved footprint wins a prize every 6 months. Simply set up your Giki Zero account, take note of your initial score, and submit it via the form here: https://forms.office.com/e/xdYeddPFcg. The competition ends in June 2023 and we will be sending out monthly reminders to inspire you to take steps to reduce your footprint.