Veganuary saw its biggest year yet in January 2017. 60,000 people took part – a twentyfold increase in four years. At the end of the 31-days, the vast majority told us they enjoyed it, felt better, and would recommend taking part. Over two thirds told us they would stay vegan, but six months on, did they stick to their intentions, or did those rosy feelings fade away? We sent out a survey six months later to find out.
The headline news is that 66 per cent of all respondents have remained vegan. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was the vegetarians who committed most to a fully plant-based diet, with almost 73 percent of them deciding to move away completely from dairy and eggs.
That’s huge, but that’s not all! More than half of all respondents say they have inspired someone else to go vegan since Veganuary! This includes Christina Mather-Bateman from Stockport whose partner saw how easy it was, tried all the amazing food she made, and became vegan shortly after she did. And Katie Johnson from Dulwich whose ‘gym-freak’ husband watched some documentaries, saw how well she was doing, and made the transition to being vegan as well.
A whopping 75 per cent of people reported that their health was better, with common responses including: improved skin, digestion, and sinuses, along with better sleep and more energy. Nicolas Quentin from Berkshire saw great results: ‘This journey has been the best decision I have taken. It’s been such a change in my life that I almost feel like my previous behaviours were in a past lifetime. I look at past photos and I have lost weight, look healthier and feel a lot better; not normally what people describe as they get older!’
Miranda White from Surrey experienced similar. ‘I feel healthier, sleep better and have more energy,’ she says. ‘The transition has been much easier than I had imagined. Every month I see new vegan products pop up and restaurants are adding vegan dishes to their menus.’
Despite the massive increase in vegan provision that Miranda enjoyed, the top reason why people did not stay vegan was that they felt restaurants are not catering for vegans as well as they should. However, Veganuary continues to work with restaurants and retail outlets, which are adding new lines and menus all the time, and hopes that this less welcome trend will soon die away.
Says Veganuary’s CEO, Simon Winch: ‘It’s truly heart-warming to see how many people have decided to stay vegan after taking part in Veganuary 2017, and we very much see this as a collaborative effort. Participants say that investigations by animal organisations, films like Cowspiracy and Vegucated, and books like Eating Animals have raised concerns and led them to try a plant-based diet. We are proud to have helped so many people improve their health, reduce their impact on the planet, and spare the lives of animals. Those who were not yet ready to go fully plant-based say they have significantly reduced their consumption of animal products, and that is a great result, too. Class of 2017 – you did great!’
Two members of the Class of 2017 who are staying vegan are Laura-Jayne and Albert.
‘It’s like having an epiphany,’ reports Laura-Jayne Williams from Newport in Shropshire, ‘and to begin with you want to shout what you have learnt from the rooftops. I have made some great friends online and in the Free-From aisle in Tesco! I am two stone lighter and I now run three times a week as part of my vegan running club. To say it has improved several aspects of my life for the better would be an understatement!’
The final three words go to Albie Jopp from Wandsworth: ‘Best. Decision. Ever!’