Time for a change, starting at the dinner table: to tackle climate change, it is essential to reduce our meat intake. An easy way to get started? Veganuary asks people to ditch animal products this month.

Veganuary

Environment, animals, health: one of the 2022 food trends, many are the benefits of plant-based eating, which is becoming increasingly popular. The reason is clear: the livestock production is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that are one of the leading causes of the climate crisis. The initiative started eight years ago in Great Britain, an invitation to give up animal products (or at least meat) for the entire month of January as response to the environmental emergency. A challenge welcomed with enthusiasm form the onset: Veganuary over time has taken hold in over 150 countries, gathering subscriptions worldwide. After last year’s record-breaking edition (perhaps also due to the pandemic, working from home and the desire to experiment in the kitchen), the numbers continue to grow: many people, including celebrities, have chosen to stay vegan, while companies will promote the vegan month in Italy.

Participating companies

ALDI, Rossopomodoro, Capatoast, Hamerica’s and Flower Burger are among the big brands that support the initiative by pledging to sell more plant-based foods. And then the restaurant-booking app TheFork, Altromercato, the delivery services Macai and SanaSana, the cosmetics retailer Lush and the company Aveda will involve their community, raising awareness of an increasingly cruelty-free approach. On the other hand, Alpro, Cameo, Bontasana, Heura Foods, Probios and many other niche companies, that have always been committed to the animal rights struggle, will continue to make their voices heard. Through targeted communication and the launch of new products, the Swiss foodtech startup Planted has conquered the Italian market with its plant-based products (the pulled burger is this month’s newest entry). Once again, Veganuary’s Italian official partner is Essere Animali, the animal welfare non-profit, alongside plant-based nutrition expert Dr Silvia Goggi. For those not so familiar with vegan cuisine (even if many traditional Italian recipes are naturally vegan, such as caponata, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza Marinara, many soups…), don’t panic: on the Veganuary website there are many useful tips and ideas for recipes, from breakfast to dinner, including snacks and desserts.

Why reduce meat for a month

Vegan for a month: does it make sense? The six-month follow-up study by Veganuary found that 82% of last year’s participants have maintained a dramatic reduction in their animal product consumption. Specifically, 30% are eating a fully vegan diet, 38% are eating at least 75% less meat and other animal products, while 14% are eating at least 50% less meat and other animal products. But Veganuary is not limited to January alone: through the website and social pages (including those of Essere Animali, Dr Goggi and other topic-related ones), the project continues throughout the year to encourage and support people who want to change their eating habits, to protect the environment and animals. It would be unrealistic to wish for a 100% vegan world, but never as in the case of an environmental emergency can every small gesture make a difference. And the biggest change that every individual can implement to deal with the climate crisis starts right from the dinner table: simply start decreasing your meat intake to do your part. A microscopic change that can lead to macroscopic consequences, if done as a community: perhaps it is not yet time that everyone goes vegan, but it is certainly time to become active and aware consumers.

Happy Veganuary everyone!

by Michela Becchi