2023 is the tenth anniversary of Veganuary, a month during which people don’t fast entirely, but simply commit to just eating plants.
The vegan organisation GenV was started by Matthew Glover who also came up with the increasingly popular idea of Veganuary. GenV doesn’t take donations from the public but has a number of celebrity supporters, notably Joanna Lumley and Paul McCartney whose wife Linda famously pioneered the vegetarian food market in the UK. GenV currently has a poster campaign in Westminster to encourage MPs to consider more compassion in farming as currently almost three-quarters of the animals we grow here for eating are actually confined in factory farms. An anonymous donor gave them a million pounds for this London poster campaign.
In contrast to GenV hoping to persuade the government to legislate, the Vegan Land Movement are making changes out in the fields. A Horsham friend explained to me that this community interest company has several goals, one of which is to reverse the incredible biodiversity loss in the UK. It raises money through its public Crowdfunding website and has just been able to buy its fourth plot of land in an already polluted area. The Government Food Report says, “Domestic production faces a number of risks, including soil degradation, drought and flooding.” Last year the Vegan Land Movement helped mitigate this by planting hundreds of native trees including willow, maple, wild cherry, oak and birch to help restore the soils and therefore the wildlife.
Some larger land owners are paid to re-wild parts of their land, but sadly there are no checks in place to see if this actually occurs. Would it be better for us to support our small organic farmers instead and crunch on local carrots, caulis and cabbages?
Naomi Hallum, the chief executive of GenV, explains that millions of acres could be freed up for nature corridors as although over 70% of UK land area is used for agriculture, the majority of it is grassland for grazing rather than crops. Because plants grow quickly, we would only need about 16% of this land to grow our food if we became plant-based eaters. The UK has lost more of its wildlife than most countries, (we’re now in the worst 10%) and the main reason for this is land use change from wild land to fields.
So enjoy your veg to do your bit for the planet this month! To find out more about Veganuary or trying some vegan recipes, go to https://veganuary.com/
By Morag Warrack