Veganuary Month: Everything You Need To Know About The Growing Trend

Veganuary Month, celebrated every January, began in 2014 in the UK, intending to encourage non-vegans to try the vegan lifestyle for a month and hopefully hop on to the vegan bandwagon. The month marks the start of the new year and aspires to help those who have resolved to improve their health while doing their bit for the planet by making lifestyle changes.

Since its inception, it has grown in popularity, with many brands offering vegan choices to their customers. One of its markers of success is that, following the trend, KFC launched its vegan chicken burger in January (the vegan month) 2019. In fact, in 2022, over 6,29,000 people across 228 countries joined the movement. This is a record and testament to people’s will to change and adopt sustainable practices.

The vegan lifestyle is also prominent in India, with celebrities like Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, and Shahid Kapoor opting for it. However, the universe may still be unclear about what veganism entails and the benefits and challenges of this life choice. Here is an analysis of the importance of the Veganuary month and the nitty-gritty of the vegan life.

What is veganism?

Are you reluctant to adopt veganism because you feel that vegans just eat salads and leafy products? If your answer is yes, then you are not alone. Thousands harbor this misconception. “Vegans primarily consume a plant-based diet, but with companies – offering mock meat products – entering the market, one does not have to compromise on taste or quality to become a vegan. With a wide range of food items like plant-based sausages, kebabs, and tikkas, one does not miss meat while making healthier choices and saving the planet,” says Sandeep Singh, Co-founder, Blue Tribe Foods.

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Alternatives to other products like cheese, dairy, and honey are also available. Additionally, restaurants worldwide are now offering a vegan menu to choose from. The trend enthralls even the fashion sector – most labels offer cruelty-free cosmetics and apparel options. To sum up, vegans in today’s modern times are spoiled for options and are no longer required to settle for less in taste or style.

Why opt for veganism as a lifestyle?

An analysis of the reasons for opting for veganism as a lifestyle may help those who are still on the edge and think of the effort as redundant. Researchers worldwide have repeatedly emphasized that giving up meat is the healthier option. “It is the best way to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Vegan options are usually less in saturated fats and triglycerides, thus preventing you from diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular concerns, and obesity,” adds Singh.

Proponents of veganism also advance arguments based on ethics. The fashion industry today is widely criticized for the environmental damage that they cause. For example, gallons of water are wasted in making your favorite sand-blasted jeans. Additionally, millions of animals suffer due to the laboratory testing of cosmetics and the demands of the meat industry. Cows, for example, live in deplorable conditions, with their calves starving, to supply milk. The same is the case for poultry birds and animals slaughtered for meat. You can contribute towards ending the suffering of all these animals by one simple choice – going vegan.

Another reason for adopting veganism is that it helps make the planet a better place to live. “The meat industry is responsible for a major share of the emission of greenhouse gasses globally. Thousands of acres of forested land are cleared to supply food to the cattle raised for meat, contributing to deforestation, air pollution (since trees are usually burned to clear the land), and soil pollution,” opines Singh.

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Investments in this sector

Given the trend’s popularity and the environmental, ethical, and personal implications of using meat-based products, investors are increasingly gravitating towards parking their money in this space. For example, global icons like Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio invested in vegan start-ups in this segment. Indian brands offering vegan options include household names like ITC, indicating this sector’s unprecedented growth potential.

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As the plant-based meat category evolves, an increasing number of brands are focusing on innovation and product development to make sure that plant-based foods contain fewer preservatives, enhancers, and additives. “We’re seeing major investments in R&D and product developments towards a nutrition-centric approach of providing cleaner and shorter labels to meet the growing demand of the early adopter for healthier alternatives. This is also expected to be a focal point for many existing as well as up and coming brands,” says Mansi Virmani, Communication Manager, Good Food Institute India.

The Indian consumer is also very price sensitive and lowering the cost of plant based products will be the key to sustained and repeat purchases and consumption of these alternatives. Abhay Rangan, founder, OneGood, a brand that prides itself on providing affordable and accessible alternatives to conventional dairy shares, “Price parity is of paramount importance if our movement is to move beyond an early, high-conviction set of customers. Being able to beat the price of animal product incumbents is very much possible – plant based ingredients are more efficient, as the input “costs” like water, energy, etc are inherently lower than those for animal ingredients. In a value conscious society, being able to deliver high-quality, affordable plant-based nutrition is the only way to scale this category”.

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To work towards achieving price parity and bring downs costs, localising end-to-end value chains, optimizing capital infusion into the sector, increased manufacturing capabilities and processing infrastructure to achieve economies of scale, and finally, sustained government support for R&D and talend development will be critical.

Veganaury month is a time to celebrate the environmental consciousness that people worldwide carry within themselves. It is a time to make the right choices and step towards realizing the dream of a healthy body, living on a well-cared-for planet that we share with our four-legged friends. Veganism as a lifestyle is gaining prominence and attracting investors. The entire ecosystem, including economic players, is aligning to undo the damage overdependence on meat products has caused. It’s time for you to step up in the game and save the planet from further damage.

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