It’s that time of the year when people are starting to set goals for the New Year.
One popular goal is to be healthier, so I thought I’d share some information on one initiative that focuses not only on being healthier, but also more compassionate, and more environmentally friendly.
Veganuary is a UK-based non-profit organization that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond. During the 2019 campaign, more than a quarter of a million people took the pledge to try a vegan diet, while more than 500 brands, restaurants, and supermarkets promoted the campaign, and launched more than 200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone. Since the event began in 2014 participation has more than doubled each year, inspiring and supporting more than half a million people in 178 countries.
We happened to be in London in January 2018 and were amazed at how many pubs and restaurants were participating in Veganuary. As a vegan, I was thrilled.
Participants sign up online and receive a downloadable “starter kit” and daily support emails. They’re offered an online “vegan starter kit” with restaurant guides, product directories, and a recipe database.
For 2020, Veganuary has put together an ad that is meant to get people interested in the initiative, but I’m not convinced it will do much to persuade anyone to try Veganuary. However, I have to give them credit for trying a different approach. Here’s the ad where people are asked to choose between different alternatives:
I know that choosing what you eat is a highly personal decision, but my sense is that many people simply do not put much thought into such a decision. They simply eat like most everyone else, focusing on what tastes good, and not necessarily on what’s good for them.
I also do not think that most people think much about the impact of their diet beyond the effect it has on their health (if they even do that). But what you eat could also have a major impact on animal welfare and the health of our planet.
If the video above doesn’t get you excited about trying a new way of eating, then I highly recommend the recently released film “The Game Changers”.
Directed by Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul, The Game Changers tells the story of James Wilks — an elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner — as he travels the world on a quest to uncover the optimal diet for human performance.
Showcasing elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes, what James discovers permanently changes his understanding of food and his definition of true strength.
Here are some of the vegan athletes featured in the documentary:
- Patrik Baboumian is one of the strongest people on the planet and holds the record for the heaviest yoke carried over 10 meters, managing to carry 555.2 kg (1,224 lb).
- Nate Diaz is known for his unexpected victory in the UFC 196 fight against two-time world champion Conor McGregor. Diaz follows a raw vegan diet while he’s training as he believes it enhances his performance, but does eat some eggs and fish when he is not in training for a fight.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former muscly-beyond-belief bodybuilder who was synonymous with “manly” meat consumption, is now a strong advocate for a more plant-based diet. Schwarzenegger is not 100% vegan and occasionally eats meat, fish, and eggs. However, he’s drastically cut down on these products since his bodybuilding days, for both health and environmental reasons.
- Dotsie Bausch, who credits her full vegan diet for enabling her to cycle more quickly and repair more quickly than her teammates, is an eight-time U.S. national cycling champion, a two-time Pan American gold medallist, and an Olympic silver medallist.
- Carl Lewis went vegan in 1990 and went on to win the 1991 World Championships 100 meter final, setting a new world record of 9.86 seconds in the process.
- Ultrarunner Scott Jurek completed a run across the entire Appalachian Trail, breaking the speed record by over three hours. He finished in 46 days, eight hours, and seven minutes.
- Several members of the NFL football team the Tennessee Titans, who just qualified for the playoffs today.
- Farriss Kendrick a vegan since 2014, was the only U.S. male weightlifter to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The movie, like many documentaries, has had its share fair of critics.
But maybe it’s my confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance kicking in, but I think the movie, on balance, offers enough persuasive evidence to at least get people to think about what they eat.
And I think if it does that, I would consider it a success.
Here is the trailer for the movie, which has been viewed more than 10 million times: