Author: Miriam Porter. :
Veganuary, which started at a kitchen table in the UK by a passionate wife and husband team, is the global pledge to try being vegan for 31 days and hopefully throughout the rest of the year. Since the launch of the campaign in 2014, two million people have signed up with more joining daily. The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to try healthy plant-based recipes, learn how to swap out animal products for cruelty-free alternatives, and support restaurants with vegan options. As veganism continues to grow around the world more brands and restaurants are adding exciting vegan items to their menus. In 2021 Veganuary inspired over a half million people around the world and with the campaign well under way in 2022 it’s expected to surpass over 600,000 sign-ups. If you are one of these people (and even if you aren’t!) here are 5 additional things you can do to keep your vegan lifestyle thriving above and beyond a healthy plant-based diet.
1. Stop Purchasing Leather & Fur from Animals
You have already saved so many lives by eating more plant-based foods and less animal products in January - good for you! So why not take it a step further and stop purchasing their skin and fur? When you buy leather products such as jackets, shoes, belts, and purses, you contribute to factory farms and slaughterhouses because the leather industry is directly linked to the meat and dairy industries, it’s an economic coproduct. All three industries are cruel and inhumane and each time a leather product is purchased an animal is sentenced to an entire lifetime of suffering. Furthermore, the leather industry is environmentally destructive in the same ways raising cows for food is, but even worse because of the toxins and pollutants released into the air that are used in the tanning process for animal skins. The good news is there are hundreds of cruelty-free and sustainable vegan leather options such as purses made from cork, pineapple fibers and even recycled water bottles. Searching for jackets and clothing free from animal products like leather, feathers, cashmere, wool, and fur has never been easier and brands have multiple options available. Fur is the cruelest accessory on earth and there is no such thing as ethically sourced or humane fur. Unless of course it’s faux fur! Learn more about the fur industry here.
2. Take Action to Protect the Climate
Start off by endorsing the Plant Based Treaty and share the campaign with friends, family and on social media to get the world out that a shift to a sustainable plant-based diet can actually help reverse the damage done to our planet and biodiversity.
“The three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are at devastatingly high levels and rapidly accelerating, increasing global overheating at an alarming rate. We can change our food systems from a key contributor to a climate change champion – reversing the damage and generating food security.” – Plant Based Treaty
Your vegan journey is the perfect time to learn about greenhouse gas emissions and the toxic levels of methane gas, CO2, and excrement that animals on factory farms emit which directly pollutes our air and water. This produces an unnatural warming effect resulting in melting glaciers and warmer water temperatures. Melting ice affects multiple species such as polar bears that grow thinner and thinner, have fewer babies, and lose their homes as sea ice keeps melting. Climate change also affects how intense our heat waves are in the summer, more frequent and intense storms that cause havoc and destroy property and livelihoods, extreme droughts affecting vegetable farmers, and other weather disasters. Take time to research this on your own, read books, watch movies, and learn how to take action for the climate. There is no Planet B and the climate crisis is very serious. In the words of Swedish vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg,“I want you to act as if your house is on fire, because it is.”
3. Visit An Animal Sanctuary
Meet the animal species you have helped save! Animal sanctuaries around the world rescue animals from death or horrible situations and provide them a loving forever home. Many sanctuaries have open houses to learn about the valuable work they do, and some have volunteer days where you can lend a hand and shake a paw. Not far from Toronto are two sanctuaries, Wishing Well Sanctuary; and Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary - home to famous, stylish and charismatic, Esther The Wonder Pig. Both Canadian sanctuaries are safe havens for rescued cows, chickens, horses, goats, sheep and many friendly pigs. Animal sanctuaries spread kindness, love and compassion while inspiring others to do the same. In the United States Farm Sanctuary has two locations, New York and California. They have rescued so many survivors of the animal agriculture system and tirelessly advocate for the rights of animals, institutional reforms, and encourage vegan lifestyles. If you can’t visit a sanctuary right now you can still support their worthwhile work by purchasing items from their website or donating funds.
4. Encourage Friends and Family to Go Vegan
Potlucks and family dinners are great ways to show off your new healthy cooking skills and demonstrate to others how satisfying and delicious vegan food is. At fancy holiday festivals you can offer to swap out meat, fish, dairy and eggs with plant-based alternatives - the creative possibilities are endless! Consider baking vegan treats to share with colleagues at work, invite non-vegan friends over to watch sports or movies and serve a healthy plant-based feast. If you can’t see friends or family due to Covid restrictions, host a Zoom and virtually show family your latest creations and share recipes. You can also gently encourage friends to watch vegan themed documentaries to learn the truth about where their food comes from. Here is a list.
5. Start Your Own Animal Save, Climate Save or Health Save Chapter
Starting a local Animal Save or Climate Save chapter in your community is a great way to keep Veganuary going. This webpage lists the steps needed to get started. Alternatively, with hundreds of Save chapters around the world it’s possible there is already a chapter in your area. Join up with them to share ideas and start campaigns to help animals. When attending vigils and bearing witness to animals in transport trucks you meet the victims of the animal agriculture industry face to face. By documenting their horrible fate and sharing the experience you spread messages of veganism around the world. It’s also an opportunity to show love to these animals for the first time in their lives and offer comfort before their death. I will never forget the first time I attended a Toronto Pig Save vigil and saw the pigs in the trucks. Attending vigils is of course very sad, but the animals need our voice and compassion. And who knows, perhaps bearing witness will help keep you on a plant-based diet long after January is over.
Five things you can do to help:
- The most impactful action you can take to save animals and the planet is to adopt a vegan diet. If you aren't already vegan, don't worry, it's not too late. A great way to get started with plant-based eating is through free programs such as Challenge 22 or Veganuary. We also have a Vegan Action Starter Guide to help you with your journey as well as a nutritional guide for children.
- Sign the Plant Based Treaty. Your endorsement will help put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty as a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement. The treaty calls for system changes such as an end to the expansion of animal agriculture, no new deforestation or slaughterhouses, an end to subsidies for animal agriculture with a switch to plant-based solutions, and reforesting the Earth.
- Start an Animal Save, Climate Save Movement or Health Save chapter in your area.
- Sign and share our petitions to help build pressure and create change.
- Make a donation to help us launch impactful campaigns that demand a plant-based food system for the benefit of animals, climate and health.