Veganuary: Marketing ploy or a step towards saving the planet?
Meriel Clode interrogates the current trend of going vegan in the month of January
Veganuary. Flexitarian. Welcome to the jargon of the ‘20s – a decade that has witnessed, in its first week alone, two horrifying consequences of climate change: the Australian bushfires and deadly flooding in Indonesia. Various studies on the causes behind climate change have proven the existence of a correlation between the meat industry and global warming, and the notion that a public responsibility for the tragedies abroad needs to be recognised seems to be catching, ironically, like wildfire.
It seems apt, therefore, that veganism and flexitarianism are the first ‘fads’ of 2020. The organisation ‘Veganuary’ has had 370,000 people sign up in January 2020 alone, which is a record number of people – increased by over 100,000 people since last year. Considering the numerous studies that highlight the benefits of more people becoming vegan – such as reduced health care costs, reduced carbon footprints and less greenhouse gas emissions – this could be a truly positive move towards helping the environment.
It is hard to say, consequently, whether Veganuary is a marketing ploy by companies, ensuring they follow the latest fad to increase their sales
Consumer demand and product manufacturing go hand in hand and, as undoubtedly you have noticed, supermarkets have not failed to meet the increased demand for plant-based foods, with all the big brands putting out lots of advertisements for their vegan stock. Supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s have even begun to place plant-based meat alternatives next to their meat sections, in order to encourage people to consider the options they have before they buy. It does seem, therefore, that supermarkets (despite their generally un-environmentally friendly outlook) are getting behind movements towards sustainability and eco-friendliness.
The term Veganuary, obviously, only relates to January – implying that this has the potential to be a short-term fad. It is hard to imagine supermarkets taking any of their plant-based products off the shelves in a few months’ time, however, because of the negative backlash that would inevitably greet such a decision, especially if harrowing climate crises continue to unfold. So perhaps Veganuary will have long lasting impacts on British culture, particularly when the primarily young demographic of people who engage in veganism, vegetarianism or flexitarianism is considered.
It is hard to say, consequently, whether Veganuary is a marketing ploy by companies, ensuring they follow the latest fad to increase their sales; or whether, in light of the recent tragic, almost apocalyptic crises, monumental steps towards trying to save the planet are finally underway. Perhaps, however, the morality of the motivations behind promoting veganism are irrelevant: what matters most is that the change is happening.