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January 2024 - Veganuary

Updated: Mar 25

First and foremost, Happy (belated) New Year! The Earth officially completed a lap around the sun on the 1st of January, and this can only mean one thing: The start of a brand-new year! 


2023 certainly had its fair share of topics to discuss - and as an early spoiler for this year's topics, this year will be no different. However, you (or someone you know) may have had the urge to follow traditions and set a personal goal to bring about positive changes or improvements moving forward in life. A New Year's Resolution, if you will.


Before we begin, let's briefly examine history to understand why we set commitments and why January is perceived as a time for new beginnings.


Ancient Babylonian/Assyrian Origins of New Year & Significance of Akitu

  • Focusing on the Babylonian/Assyrian origin, this was celebrated approximately 4000 years ago in late March or early April in what was known back then as the month of Nissan (which is not remotely related to a particular automobile manufacturer).

  • The 4th of Nissan was known as Akitu, a 12-day festival dedicated to celebrating the arrival of spring, the sowing of barley and the renewal of life and fertility. This festival includes various rituals, processions and ceremonies that aim to win the gods' favour for a prosperous year.

  • Modern Assyrian and Chaldean descendants still celebrate Akitu today.

Julius Caesar's Calendar Calibration

 

One increasingly popular and impactful choice gaining momentum is Veganuary – a global campaign encouraging and challenging participants throughout January. It might be the perfect New Year's resolution if you are looking:


  1. to broaden your culinary horizons

  2. to learn to cook (or to be a gardener)

  3. to eat healthily or improve your diet

  4. to reduce waste and to do more for the environment


These are much more sensible resolutions, in contrast to some of ours in the GLP office, which involves "eating more cake" and "having cake for breakfast". As such, this will be our topic to start 2024. But how exactly did Veganuary begin, what is it, and why is it getting popular every year?


What is Veganuary?

Much like how Caesar named January, the name of this campaign (and subsequently the name of the non-profit organisation that runs it) is a portmanteau: a combination of the words "Veganism" and "January".


The primary purpose of Veganuary is to raise awareness about the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of a plant-based diet, with the ultimate objective to create a vegan world. It may sound as if it is an infamous social media fad, but it is more of a statement that a meat-free diet is a conscientious choice that is healthy, environmentally conscious and can save the lives of the animals. It is not just for those who want to embrace the vegan lifestyle; anybody can make the pledge.

Vegetarians don't eat meat but may include dairy and eggs in their diet.
Vegans avoid all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs to name a few. This also includes commonly overlooked byproducts such as whey protein and gelatin.

Will I be judged for participating in Veganuary?

How did Veganuary start?


This year is also the 10th anniversary of Veganuary, and a lot has changed since their initial campaigns. They have now evolved beyond a pledge to support big brands and retailers to expand upon their plant-based options, and a trip to the supermarket or even a local restaurant will reflect this. In the Veganuary press kit for 2024, it states that in 2023:


  • Thousands of businesses participated in Veganuary.

  • More than 1,610 new vegan products were launched during Veganuary.

  • A few highlights include "Burger King's Vegan Royale Bakon King, the McDonald's Double McPlant, and new plant-based offerings at Wagamama, Pret, Greggs and Subway."

If you are interested in tackling the pledge yourself or want to learn more about Veganuary, their website offers resources all year round - not just for January.



 

Discussion Points for Equality and Diversity


  • Is it important to raise awareness for people with different dietary needs?

  • Why do different cultures have different dietary needs?

  • Are plant-based alternatives cheap and easy to prepare?

  • Could a meat-free world eventually be achievable?



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