Did you forget to make a resolution for 2023? Perhaps you simply felt this time you’d just not bother; only now nearly at the end of January when everyone else is failing in their earnest efforts to do better you feel you really should have one had one? Well, you could still have a few days to embrace the rest of January as Veganuary, a month-long event that challenges people to go Vegan for a month.
Veganism, if you aren’t sure what it is, is typically taken to mean a diet that excludes all forms of animal products such as meat, eggs, milk and so on. Many take it further to embrace a lifestyle that, so far as possible, avoids the exploitation of animals in any shape or form. For example, clothes made of animal hides, glue made from bones etc.
Veganuary is organized by the UK Non-Profit organization of the same name. The actual challenge only asks individuals to swap to a plant-based diet for a month. Though in practice removing animal products from one’s diet is the biggest challenge where veganism is concerned. The event began in 2014 and has been steadily growing in popularity and awareness ever since such that participants take part from across the world.
Veganism – Why Bother?
At the heart of Veganism is the issue of animal exploitation and suffering. The overwhelming majority of people in most of the world are urban dwelling. Especially in the west, we have largely divorced ourselves from the process of how our food reaches our tables.
We conceive of a delicious cheese and ham sandwich as a product bought in a box at a supermarket. We don’t think about the cow whose milk made the cheese or the ham who was once a pig. Indeed, our ideas of farmyard life tend to be more in keeping with Children’s TV and Old Macdonald and nothing at all like the highly industrialized factories real farms have become.
The uncomfortable reality is that the use of animals whether as components or the final product is pain, suffering and death. For meat, to have a bacon sandwich Percy the pig needs to die. Even where the product in question does not call for the death of the animal, suffering is frequently involved.
Consider milk from a cow. Cows, like all mammals, do not lactate unless they have had a baby, their milk being intended to feed their own offspring. However, the baby cow is often not needed, especially if it is a male calf which obviously can’t grow up to produce any milk of its own. Industrialized modern business processes being what they are, the solution is rarely humane.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and given how research keeps revealing how much more intelligent supposedly dumb livestock animals are, perhaps we should feel uncomfortable.
How to get started
The great thing about Veganism nowadays is just how widespread it is. Compared to just a decade ago plant-based alternatives to everyday animal product items are available everywhere and many companies have shifted their ingredients to vegan alternatives when there was no pressing need to continue to use animal products.
Furthermore, thanks to the internet there’s never been an easier way to find new recipes and ideas for making animal-free dishes. Whether that involves reading a recipe from a smartphone or watching the dish made in high-definition video. Where once a major barrier to trying to go Vegan was simply how difficult it was both in terms of access to ingredients and information, now it’s never been easier.
The Veganuary website has plenty of information to help those whose concerns have led them to try and embrace veganism. It includes plans, recipes and more that can enable people to make the best of their month of plant-based nutrition. Indeed, it’s a great starting point for anyone who wants to get a better understanding, meat-eater or not about nutrition as a topic and how what we put into our bodies affects both ourselves and the world around us.