If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that keeping our health is crucial. Two health campaigns: Veganuary and Dry January started in 2014 and have since taken off with@weareveganuary on Instagram at nearly 500K followers. Each campaign emphasises the importance of eating and drinking healthy foods and beverages. The goal of the campaigns is to promote starting the new year on a more refreshed and healthy note.
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging individuals all over the world to go vegan for the month of January and beyond. They tell uson their site, more than 500,000 people pledged to try a vegan diet during the 2021 campaign, and more than 825 new vegan products and menu alternatives were launched in our main campaign nations. It's a month-long campaign that encourages and supports individuals and businesses to switch to a plant-based diet in order to conserve the environment, eliminate animal suffering, and improve the health of millions of people.
How to get started
Going vegetarian, let alone vegan isn't easy (believe me, it took me a year to go completely vegetarian)! Here is my amateur advice when transitioning to become vegan.
Set realistic goals for yourself: You're probably using January to transition from Christmas meat dinners to no meat in a matter of weeks or days. It's possible that knowing we made a pledge makes us want to consume more meat in January! Veganuary's goal is to increase awareness and encourage people to eat more healthily. A month isn't too hard if you cut back on meat daily, then weekly. Simultaneously cutting back on animal products (eggs, milk, cheese, butter, honey, etc.) can allow you to be more creative in the kitchen while also achieving your goals.
Set a nutrition plan: When I first started eating a plant-based diet, the biggest mistake I made was not replenishing my vitamins/nutrients and cutting back on food. I had several false assumptions and felt very weak, lost a lot of weight in a short period of time, and said to myself, "I can't do this!" It took months of trying new foods, learning what a balanced diet was, and simply being more aware of what I put into my body. Plant-based diets remind you to look at the ingredients listed on the back of each container. I spoke with a nutritionist, and I encourage that anyone considering a change do the same, because, as you may be aware, diets should be tailored to the individual.
Ordering out? Look at the menu beforehand: Several restaurants now serve vegetarian or vegan options. If you’re worried about going to a restaurant and not being able to find anything, you can either read the menu online or ask the waiter if there are options. Personally, I try to keep a vegan kitchen and allow myself vegetarian meals outdoors. This allows flexibility in my diet and places to choose from.
What is Dry January?
Dry January is a public health campaign that encourages individuals to abstain from drinking alcohol for the entire month of January. It is popular in Europe and the United States. Many people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol and start the new year sober.
What are the health benefits?
It makes sense after the New Year’s parties you’d want to stop drinking! Avoiding alcohol can help reduce alcohol-induced inflammation. Your brain, liver, stomach and skin will also be thanking you! It’s a no-brainer, pun fully intended, that alcohol impacts your brain function. Cutting alcohol allows your brain to function at its best. The term "beer belly" alludes to how beer can prevent fat loss by causing your liver to preferentially burn alcohol rather than fat when consumed. Essentially, cutting beer allows your liver to burn fat rather than alcohol which also helps you lose weight! Lastly, the effect of alcohol and your skin has to do with the amount of sleep, vitamins, and better hydration. Quitting alcohol allows for a better night’s sleep, your body's ability to absorb nutrients/vitamins, and your conscious choice to hydrate with healthier alternatives.
Medical case studies: According to a 5-year study, between 2008 and 2013, researchers examined hospital admissions in France and discovered that drinking and alcohol usage were linked to 38.9% of those diagnosed with early-onset dementia (Published: February 20, 2018). It has also been observed that it can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Alcohol is responsible for roughly 4,400 breast cancer cases in the UK each year, according to Cancer Research UK (Last reviewed 31 March 2021.) They also note, it’s just one of 7 cancers that alcohol is linked to, including bowel cancer, liver cancer, mouth cancer and three different types of throat cancer.
So, those are the public campaign challenges - try just one month without alcohol and animal products and see how you feel. Have you tried Veganuary or Dry January?