Veganuary is more than just a New Year reset, it’s a cultural phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of participants each year. With 2024 underway, we’ve outlined all you need to know about Veganuary 2024 and why it’s set to be the biggest yet!
A non-profit organisation, Veganuary issues an annual challenge that encourages people to try a vegan lifestyle for the whole month of January. Founded in 2014 by Matthew Glover and Jane Land in the UK, Veganuary aims to educate and inspire diners to explore the benefits of plant-based living for themselves, animals, and the planet. Excitingly–for the vegan community–sign-up numbers have steadily increased for the last 9 years, sparking predictions that 2024 will bear witness to the biggest global veganisation yet. But this is not the only reason why the incoming event is set to break all records.
Read on to discover why experts believe that the plant-based revolution is finally gaining the momentum it needs.
Veganuary numbers have grown year-on-year
Back in its first January, a modest 3,300 individuals pledged to take the plunge and turn vegan for a month. Since that humble beginning, the movement has gained worldwide popularity attracting ever-growing waves of participants. In 2020, sign-ups skyrocketed to an impressive 400,000, marking a 170% increase from the previous year. This upward trend continued in 2022, with a record-breaking 629,900 pledges (a 7% jump from 2021). And 2023 surpassed all expectations, boasting a staggering 706,965 official participants – an 11.3% increase from the prior year.
This growth speaks volumes about the increasing public interest in plant-based eating and the effectiveness of Veganuary’s outreach efforts, which started in earnest back in 2015, after Glover and Land realised the potential of a sleekly presented and heavily promoted annual challenge.
Celebrity ambassadors are creating buzz
Veganuary’s rise to prominence is–arguably–intrinsically connected to its slew of high-profile celebrity ambassadors. Names including Grammy-winner Billie Eilish and Sir paul McCartney have championed the cause, with the former using her platform to highlight the environmental and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet to her fans. Beyond music, actors with activist leanings, including Joaquin Phoenix and Alicia Silverstone, have lent their support to the movement and in a coup for RuPaul’s Drag Race fans, Bimini Bon Boulash is included in the ambassador throng as of 2024.
“Babes! You know what’s chic right now? Being vegan for January!,” the performer said. “Kindness is in, compassion is sexy and being healthy makes you a hottie. Serve it up for the animals, the planet and our fabulous selves. If you’ve ever thought about living it up plant-based, Veganuary is your chance to show the world!”
Representing a vast spectrum of cultural influence and importance, vegan celebrities are encouraging everyone to find their own plant-powered strength and to sign-up to Veganuary.
More food choices than ever before
The dark days of foraging in a dusty helath food shop for a vegan snack are long gone (anybody else old enough to remember therestrictive plain crisps and tomato pasta diet days?). Today’s plant-based sector is rife with choice, including both whole foods and meat mimics.
Compared to the $5 billion market of three years ago, the vegan food industry in 2023 has ballooned to $17.4 billion, marking a phenomenal growth of 248%. This is due to mainstream supermarkets identifying and catering to demand for plant-based meats, dairy, ready-meals and more. Meanwhile, restaurants also got in on the action. Alongside specialist vegan outlets, most major chains now offer plant-based options, including fast-food giants.
Where once it would have been more difficult for dedicated meat lovers to swap their turkey for tofu, now, they can simply swap out their favourite products for dupes made with plant protein. To encourage more people to live without meat, manufacturers are laser-focused on improving both taste and texture profiles of their products, with some consumers agreeing that many are now so advanced that there’s no reason to eat meat ever again.
We are more environmentally motivated
As the world comes to terms with the realities of climate change, the connection between environmental awareness and the rise of veganism is increasingly evident.
A growing body of research now highlights animal agriculture’s significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. As a result of such findings, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has repeatedly stated that reducing consumption of animal products is one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change. The UN reinforces this message directly as well.
By offering a structured month-long experience, Veganuary empowers individuals to experiment with veganism and witness its positive impact on their own health and the environment. The “try it for a month” approach lowers the barrier to entry, making veganism more approachable and relatable for environmentally conscious individuals seeking tangible ways to contribute to climate solutions.
Positive media coverage is on the up
Mainstream media coverage of Veganuary has transformed in recent years, shifting from sceptical sidebars and right-wing naysaying (some of the latter still exists) to enthusiastic spotlights.
Where veganism was once portrayed as a hippie or dietary fad today, publications like The Guardian and Vogue are reporting on its growing popularity and highlighting the positive benefits of participation. Articles such as “Record 500,000 people pledge to eat only vegan food in January” in The Guardian explore the movement’s motivations and benefits, while Vogue‘s “5 Plant-Based Chefs Share Their Top Tips This Veganuary” provides practical tips and recipe inspiration.
This shift in tone reflects a broader societal embrace of plant-based eating, alongside celebrity advocates and documentaries including Cowspiracy and What the Health being shown on popular mainstream platforms. Veganuary, with its positive and personable approach, has become a key player in this cultural shift, garnering media attention for its success in encouraging people to explore veganism.
By leveraging support from influential figures, remaining unpressured and enjoying a tidal wave of positive media coverage, Veganuary continues to go from strength to strength but one question remains: will 2024 be the year that the plant-based challenge finally secures 1 million sign-ups?