How to take part in Veganuary 2021 and when the plant-based diet challenge started

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The new year is upon us and for many it means the chance of a clean slate, to make resolutions or simply try something new.

But if the idea of home improvements, putting the cork back in the bottle or a fresh look don't float your boat, one challenge becoming increasingly popular is to go vegan for January.

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Veganuary gives people the chance to change their diet to all things plant-based for the first weeks of the year - but what is it and how do you take part?

Here's all you need to know.

What is veganuary?

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation which encourages people to try a vegan diet for the month of January - or even longer.

The 2020 campaign saw more than 400,000 people take part - nearly double the number who took part in 2019 - while many restaurants and supermarkets promoted the campaign.

This led to the launch of more than 1,200 new vegan products and menus in the UK.

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"Throughout the year, veganuary encourages and supports people and businesses alike to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people," it says on the organisation's website.

What year did veganuary start?

This year (2021) is the eighth veganuary, since it began in 2014.

Over that time more than one million people have signed up to try a vegan diet for January, across 192 countries.

The charity hopes to inspire and support people to go vegan and says it wants a “vegan world” without animal farms and slaughterhouses.

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Veganuary starts on 1 January and runs through the month to 31 January.

Why do people choose to be vegan?

There are a number of reasons why people choose to be vegan.

Of the 400,000-plus people who took part in the challenge in 2020, 38% said they did it for their health, 37% for animals, and 18% to protect the environment.

Actor Joaquin Phoenix, musician Paul McCartney and comedian Sara Pascoe are all famous vegans.

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"If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking 'I wish there was something I could do' - you can. RIght now. Sign up to try vegan this January,” said Joaquin Phoenix.

How do you do veganuary?

People interested in going vegan can sign up to the challenge through the veganuary website.

The charity offers advice on how to get started, nutritional tips and guides for eating out and shopping. It also has a lengthy list of recipes for different meals to cook at home including gluten free blueberry pancakes, vegan hot dogs and millionaire caramel brownies.

Supermarkets which have an impressive range of vegan food options - from jackfruit ribs to mushroom meatballs - include Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Asda, with an increasing number of products hitting the shelves.

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Dominos launched its first vegan pizzas in December 2020, while Greggs has a vegan sausage roll on its menu and McDonalds' spicy veggie wrap, veggie dippers and french fries are all suitable for vegans.

What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Vegetarians eat a mixed diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and eggs.

Vegetarians who also don't eat eggs, dairy or any other animal products are vegans.

Neither vegetarians or vegans eat meat.