The global movement catches on in India with celebrity and corporate supporters
January 20: Veganuary-the global pledge to try vegan for 31 days- has hit a new record, with more than 6Lakh people participating globally this year. The movement has taken a firm hold in India, too, with its catchy desi content, celeb supporters, corporate partnerships and more. Every January, lakhs of people try a vegan lifestyle to improve their health, reduce animal suffering and reduce the climate impact of industrial animal farming.
The movement launched officially in India in December 2021 (see the India launch video here- https://youtu.be/4fHEmANyDNE ) and has been a huge hit. This is consistent with the findings of a new YouGov survey* which reported that a whopping 65% of Indians plan to eat more plant-based/vegan foods in the new year.
The survey also reported that inability to stick to the habit (21%), affordability of vegan alternatives (20%), unavailability of meal plans and recipes (20%), and not able to find more vegan food while eating outside (18%) were top reasons for people not transitioning to vegan. Responding to this, Veganuary Indiahead, Prashanth Vishwanath, says: “Creating an ecosystem conducive for a shift to plant-based diets is important in India. Being part of a community of people who are all trying vegan at the same time and better availability of vegan alternatives makes it a lot easier. That’s exactly what Veganuary is doing”.
Putting money where their mouth is, Veganuary has created free material, meal plans for different needs, shopping guidance and a celebrity cookbook for Indians signing up to try a vegan diet. Participants also get to be part of an exclusive global support group with access to experts and previous participants for free advice. Addressing the need to make vegan food more accessible, Veganuary has worked with more than 40 Indian brands to launch new products and introduce special offers in January. These include Dr.Oetker, Milkin Oats, BlueTribe foods, Hello Tempayy, Vezlay, Good Dot, to name a few. Prashanth adds, “Veganuary is creating a new wave of vegan consumers and shoppers with a big appetite in 2022. Indians have shown that they are willing to change how they eat for better health and a better planet; and businesses are responding to this demand.”
To demonstrate that a vegan diet is healthy, glamorous, fun and can support an active lifestyle, many popular public figures have shared messages of encouragement as Veganuary ambassadors. Actor Soundarya Sharma has said ‘I am vegan, I feel fabulous, and I have the energy to slay it on camera every single time. Veganuary’s 31-day pledge helps you make a smooth transition to a plant-based diet, for your health, for animals and for the planet. Join my squad, try vegan today!’
Mountaineer and two-time climber of Mt.Everest Kuntal Joisher said, “I have never eaten meat in my entire life and turned vegan 17 years ago. I was successfully able to build top of the world level muscle and endurance and not only survive but thrive in the -50C temperatures on top of Everest, not just once, but twice! Goes to show that no animal needs to suffer or die for our dreams to come true.”
The celebrity cookbook is one of the free materials people signing up to Veganuary receive. Sneha Ullal, who has donated her favourite recipe – Tofu Makhani – to the cookbook, says, “I don’t need animals harmed to live my life. Veganism is that simple.”
Singer Anushka Manchanda, actor Sadaa Sayed, actor and pro 3×3 basketballer Arvind Krishna and pro tennis player Vishwajeet Sangle have also joined the star cast of Veganuary Ambassadors. In addition, Michelin Star chef Suvir Saran and TV actor Raghav Tiwari are participating in Veganuary to raise awareness on a vegan lifestyle. Suvir says, “Indian cuisine is full of flavours, and our masalas are legendary around the world. We use a wide array of veg, grains, legumes, pulses, fruits, herbs and aromatics in our cooking, which is rich sources of nourishment for the mind, body and soul. I am very happy to associate with Veganuary and share some of my favourite plant-based recipes with my fellow participants of Veganuary 2022. I hope they will warm your hearts and win your minds into adopting a fulfilling plant-based lifestyle.”
Pointing at increasing interest in plant-based eating in India, the YouGov survey says more than 60% of Indians have a more positive perception of plant-based/vegan diets compared to 2 years ago. Sadaa Sayed encourages this shift and says, “The wonderful thing about Veganuary is that there is no pressure/ judgment. You can try eating vegan for January and get all the support, advice and materials curated especially for Indians, all for free.”
This past year, the climate emergency and health were among the top concerns on everyone’s mind. Therefore, this year’s Veganuary campaign focused on showing the link between climate change and what we eat.
Veganuary enlisted the support of the mythical ‘Bigfoot’ to persuade people to take climate action into their own hands. This has clearly turned out to be a great success, as shown by the record participation. Watch the Bigfoot video here- https://youtu.be/AETJp95KWI8
With unseasonal monsoons, floods, cyclones and corresponding loss of livelihoods, climate change has affected the lives of Indians as much as the covid pandemic. The record participation shows that Indians are ready to take action where it is most impactful- by changing how they eat. Anushka Manchanda sums it up well and says, “we are the culture that gave the world Ahimsa. The planet, with all its beings, needs us to practice it now more than ever. Together, we have the power to bring positive change. Try vegan today.”