Roar writer Camilla Alcini reflects on Veganuary 2021 and its impact.

Vegan cuisine is here to stay. After decades of being limited to a small number of people, veganism (which is more of a lifestyle really) is gaining popularity.
One of the many reasons people decided to give it a try in the past couple of years is its higher sustainability which has positive effects on our planet, in comparison to the negative impact of the omnivorous diet. January is dedicated to those approaching this “challenge” as a New Year’s resolution, thanks to a series of initiatives from food companies, vegan chefs and influencers that support us through Veganuary.

Veganuary 2021 has already been declared as a huge success. According to The Guardian, a record number of 500,000 people have pledged to veganism in January 2021. This number is double that of 2019, and almost triple of 2018. To understand the impact of these figures, one can see that Veganuary 2019 saved 3.6 million animals.

In a statement to Plant Based News, Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s Head of Communications, declared: “seeing the long-term impact that a one-month vegan pledge has on consumption habits – and ultimately animals’ lives – is very exciting.”

The demand for vegan products is increasing rapidly. In the UK, Rudy’s Vegan Butchers opened at the corner of Islington Park Street and Upper Street in North London on 1 November, “to meet the overwhelming demand.” The majority of restaurants have vegan dishes, and can be found in all British supermarket plant-based products, such as Quorn, Beyond Meat and Linda McCartney.

More and more exclusively plant-based restaurants have opened in London and the rest of the UK. Halo Burger, for instance, mixes the vintage-nostalgic fast food vibe with the tastiest burger and fries. Neat Burger, founded by the Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, adopted a modern aesthetic with similar fast-food style options. These two game-changers alone would convince everyone that vegan meals are tasty, but there are also many vegan options to try in international restaurants, including Middle-Eastern, Ethiopian, Indian and Italian. Yes, it only takes you to have your pizza without mozzarella!

The best plant-based foods, though, are those you can experiment with at home. Even though by definition a vegan diet cuts some products, you just need to search “vegan recipe” on Google to see that this is far from being limited. Thousands of meals can be prepared without animal products, from a classic spaghetti with tomato to falafel and other kinds of vegan balls. Alpro and Oatly produce plant-based milks which are used by many cafes to produce a more sustainable version of your daily latte, and they bake incredible vegan cakes and biscuits.

Nonetheless, the most important thing is realising the impact you can have by trying to reduce animal products in your diet. If the demand is reduced, the harm to the environment and the intensity of breedings will follow. “Together, we are saving animals, reducing environmental harm, and supporting millions of people to live healthier lives,” declared Matthew Glover, chair and co-founder of the movement Veganuary.

I am not vegan and I don’t know if I ever will be, as that would mean officially renouncing to carbonara and to my grandmother’s tortellini… But since I moved to London, I started to drastically reduce animal products in my diet. The process was natural and slow, and it never felt like I was missing on something. Plant based cooking is easy and fun; it stimulates my creativity and challenges me to reinvent my meals. However, more than anything I love to think that with such a small change, we can have such a great impact.

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