Gluten free, vegan haggis with mashed potatoes, purple sprouts and gravy

2017 saw Veganuary explode. It was all over the media and was super popular on social media. Veganuary – as you might be able to guess… Encourages people to ‘go-vegan’ for January. A laudable idea, but like giving up booze, shaving, chocolate what does it actually achieve?

Does it really make people think hard and long about their impact on the environment, ethics and morals around farming and eating animals and animal produce? Or is it a January tick-box exercise to one-up friends and colleagues? Probably both, probably not 50-50…

Veganuary was launched in 2014 by Matthew Glover and Jane Land. It is a charity dedicated to ‘changing public attitudes, while providing all the information and practical support required to make the transition to veganism as easy and enjoyable as possible‘. Veganism is often misunderstood and assumed to be an extreme form of eating – that is unhealthy. That is where education comes in. Veganism (or plant based eating as the fashionable tag seems to be now) is more than a way to eat – it is a way to live and it is more than an individual act. Wider than food, it is what you wear, how you travel, where you eat, it impacts on every part of your life and other peoples and the world in general.

The environmental impact of farming numbers of animals to feed to the increasingly meat-based diet is huge and often ignored. It is an inconvenient truth that people do not seem ready to acknowledge. Maybe that is changing and maybe with the success of Veganuary there is some acknowledgement and understanding of the impact of an animal based diet – not only on individual health but on the health of the planet.

It takes a very long time to change culture and behaviour (which is what an animal based diet is) – generally it takes at least one generation to make a major change. Maybe what we are seeing now with the fads and fashions for clean eating variants, vegetarian and vegan food, vegan restaurants, raw food… perhaps the embracing of Veganuary is the start of that cultural change. One step closer to a well rounded understanding of the impact of an animal based diet is a step in the right direction.

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