Veganuary has already exceeded last year’s total sign-ups of 580,000 people, with more than 600,000 consumers having attempted to follow a plant-based diet this year, the event’s organisers have revealed.
The campaign, which encourages people to try a vegan lifestyle in the first month of the year, credited the uplift to both international expansion – with official branches now also in Germany, the US, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and India – as well as an increase in the proportion of people signing up for environmental reasons.
“In 2019, 12% of participants told us the environment was their main reason for taking part; in 2020 it was 18% and in 2021 it was 21%,” said Veganuary head of communications Toni Vernelli.
“With COP26 taking place so recently, we expect even more people to be signing up to help protect the planet this year.”
The news comes as a flurry of new plant-based products hit supermarket shelves this month, with NPD including Philadelphia Plant Based cheese, Magnum Vegan Mini Classic and Almond multipacks, and Not M*lk, a new dairy alternative drink by Alpro that the brand claimed was the closest match to milk yet.
“We’re delighted to see new plant-based products being launched for Veganuary,” Vernelli said.
“The accessibility and affordability of vegan options are two of the main barriers people face when they want to switch their diet, so increasing the availability of plant-based options is crucial to support people who want to make this change,” she added.
“We’re particularly pleased to see vegan versions of familiar foods from well-known brands as people find transitioning much easier when they can simply swap out animal products for a plant-based version while they are learning more about vegan cooking.”
This year several famous faces are backing the campaign, including Joanna Lumley and Deborah Meaden. Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell – star of Netflix’s Succession – also joined the campaign this year as the voice of Bigfoot in Veganuary’s first-ever cinema ad.
“Taking part in Veganuary helped me change how I eat, and now my diet is the best for animals, the planet and for me,” said Meaden, who first took part in the challenge in 2020 and is now a Veganuary ambassador.
Vernelli added Veganuary would now focus now on replicating the success enjoyed in the UK, overseas.
“It is now so much easier to eat plant-based in the UK than it was when Veganuary started in 2014, and we know that our work has been a key factor in driving that change,” she said.
“If we truly want to address climate change, we need to help drive this change in other countries – particularly those with a similarly high meat and dairy-based diet.
“We know the appetite for change is there as we are seeing huge sign-up numbers in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and other countries renowned for their meat-heavy diets, so in the next eight years we expect to see Veganuary offerings in every shop and restaurant in these countries too.”