Veganuary, a global organisation encouraging people to try vegan in January and beyond, has today released the final figures for its 2021 campaign and the results are astounding. 582,538 people signed-up, compared to 400,000 in 2020, far exceeding the group’s 2021 target of 500,000.
The campaign was given a huge boost in December when Jane Goodall, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney, John Bishop, Sara Pascoe and over 100 additional international celebrities, politicians, NGOs and businesses signed a joint letter calling on everyone to help fight climate change and prevent future pandemics by changing their diet – starting by signing-up for Veganuary.
The 2021 participants, who came from 209 countries and territories, included:
Henry Smith MP: “Veganuary has been enjoyable personally and I hope a much needed help to animal welfare and tackling climate change for all.”
Andrea Jenkins MP: “Taking part certainly made me look at my cooking habits and this month I have prepared so much more from scratch. I would say it has certainly been a healthy positive change to my busy lifestyle. I was glad to see some of my colleagues joined in too and I hope many more people try this lifestyle change.”
Tracey Crouch MP: “While I was unable to fully commit to Veganuary due to ongoing treatment for breast cancer, I really wanted to try at least one day a week. It has really opened my eyes to delicious plant-based alternatives, and I will certainly be changing some things on a more permanent basis. Ditching milk, butter and cheese for really palatable alternatives is definitely one thing I could do on a more long-term basis as well as continuing to be vegan for one or two days a week.”
Eyal Booker, model and former Love Island star: “Honestly my journey into becoming vegan has truly been life-changing for me. I won’t lie and pretend it was always easy and I didn’t get tempted.. because trust me I had to fight temptation a few times but it’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience.
“I was skeptical I wouldn’t feel any health benefits and it really shocked me to notice the positive changes it was having on my life. About 2 weeks in I really started to feel the benefits of being vegan. My energy levels were at an all-time high, I felt more focused when I was working and was able to focus for longer. I also felt I could wake up easier in the morning which was a big thing for me.
“Morally it’s been really powerful to know I’m doing my bit for our planet and making a commitment to protect our environment and animals. I felt empowered by my decision and being able to stick to it!
“My plan is to continue to be vegan and see how I get on. Realistically I probably won’t be as strict with my vegan diet and may end up having a meal or two over the month that is not vegan but overall I plan to stick to a predominantly vegan diet for the future. It’s been amazing working with Veganuary and having their guidance throughout my journey.”
Hundreds of new plant-based products and menu items were also launched this January with sales of many exceeding all expectations. Just a week after launching, Leon’s new Vegan Sweet Carolina BBQ Burger swept up the title of its bestselling burger. M&S sold one of its new No Salt Beef Pretzel Roll every 30 seconds and its Plant Kitchen Vegan Chocolate Cookie was its most popular single cookie. Pret’s new Meatless Meatball Hot Wrap was the first new product to become a top-five bestseller in launch week in Pret’s history.
Guy Meakin, UK Trading Director at Pret, said: “I’m thrilled that we have been able to add a hot vegan item to our already robust vegan range which customers have gone crazy for this Veganuary. At Pret we’ve never seen a new product come in and shift our best sellers list, and to see it during a lockdown and in less than three weeks says a lot.” The vegan meatball wrap will now permanently replace the original meatball wrap on Pret’s menu.
Elena Devis, Senior Commercial Manager at Deliveroo, confirmed they also saw a huge increase in demand for vegan food and thousands of new customers looking for it. Order volume from vegan restaurants was up 146% and vegan options from other restaurants up 114% year-on-year, while new customers purchasing vegan were up 163% year-on-year.
Plant-based brands also saw record sales during this Veganuary. According to Michael Hunter, the Managing Director of Meatless Farm: “It’s been an incredible month for us and the plant-based category as a whole. We know that during the first two weeks of January our sales were up 111% year-on-year and we’re expecting to have seen this grow further towards the end of the month. Not to mention, our partnerships with major brands, Pret, Leon and itsu which have seen a phenomenal response and are really testament to how mainstream plant-based eating has become. This has really set the tone for 2021 and we’re looking forward to an even bigger Veganuary next year.”
Squeaky Bean launched several new plant-based meat alternatives this January which were a huge success. According to Simon Day, Marketing Manager at Winterbotham Darby: “Squeaky Bean sales are up 222% so far versus Veganuary 2020, and it has been heartening to see the growth of the plant-based category as a whole. Given everything that is going on in the world right now, it has been an impressive effort from UK retail and foodservice, suppliers, brands, and all of us as consumers making our own switches. The most encouraging sign for the future is that the food on offer continues to get more delicious, more varied and more relevant to people’s lives – our focus is on continuing that momentum through 2021 and beyond!”
Plant-based meat start-up, THIS™, made over £300,000 of retail sales in just the first week of January. Andy Shovel, Co-Founder of THIS, says: “With Veganuary beginning in lockdown this year, we weren’t completely sure what would happen. Whilst people have been ordering dishes with our products via online takeaway, our restaurant sales are naturally down compared to last year, but our boost in retail sales have compensated for this loss.”
But for many businesses it was more than just a commercial endeavour as over 40 companies – including PWC, EY, Bloomberg, Nestle, M&S and Quorn – took part in the Veganuary Workplace Challenge, encouraging their employees to try vegan in January and providing more vegan options in the workplace.Many business bosses led by example, personally taking up the challenge, including Marco Settembri, CEO of Nestlé Europe, and Phil Watson, Quorn Commercial Director (UK & Europe).
Reflecting on the 2021 campaign, Veganuary’s Head of Communications Toni Vernelli says: “With the link between animal farming, the climate crisis and global pandemics making headlines nearly every day, we expected Veganuary 2021 to be the biggest yet but it exceeded all of our expectations. We applaud everyone who took part and encourage them to continue eating vegan food as often as possible. And we’re grateful to all of the businesses embracing Veganuary and making it easier for more people to eat more plant-based food more often. Together we are making an enormous difference for animals, the planet and human health.”