10,679 people joined the Veganuár 2020 organized by Prove.hu to try the vegan lifestyle. Participants had 31 days to discover that veganism and a plant-based lifestyle do not equal starving yourself, eating grass, or constant preaching.
In terms of what else the participants got by joining the program, they had the chance to be part of a community where they were not crucified for admitting to a slipup, an opportunity to improve their health, and recipes not lacking in any essential nutrients.
Veganism is not a diet ─ it’s about doing no harm
Veganism is about animal rights ─ about putting a stop to animal exploitation. A stronger immune system due to a healthier lifestyle and a reduced carbon footprint are just side effects, albeit welcome ones.
Of course, when one decides to commit to a vegan lifestyle, one of the first steps that can be made is to transition to a plant-based diet. A conscious vegan, however, also pays attention to making animal-free choices in other areas, like using cruelty-free cosmetics and not wearing wool or real silk.
And naturally, ethical vegans also avoid visiting circuses, zoos, dolphinariums, and other aquatic zoos, seeing that the main reason animals are held captive in these places is to entertain people in exchange for money.
Surprisingly, the first Veganuár ever held in Hungary, which also attempted to shed light on the complexity that surrounds the vegan movement, had a higher turnout than the first official English-language Veganuary challenge in 2014: while the latter counted 3600 participants, 7046 people signed up to this year’s Hungarian challenge with Prove.hu by the starting date. By January 31, the number of people who signed up for the challenge had risen to 10 679.
Who participated in the Veganuár challenge?
Although the program was not closed on January 31 and is kept open for people to join throughout the entire year, 1629 of the initial participants shared their thoughts and experiences regarding the challenge. 91.6% of the responders were women. Based on the results, it seems that most participants were aged 35-44 (28.1%), 25-34 (22.8%), and 45-54 (21.8%).
The responders also had different backgrounds for motivation: the primary driver was health, followed by animal rights and protecting the planet. Further analyzing the composition of the participants, it can be said that most of them were omnivores who ate animal-derived foods once or twice a week (33.2%), and omnivores who ate meat, cheese, or eggs three to five times a week (28.3%).
It was interesting to see that those who previously followed a vegetarian diet were also present in huge numbers in the Veganuár challenge: they made up 28.3% of the participants, from which it can be concluded that this program possibly aided them in taking the last step toward veganism. Interestingly, 10% of the participants were people already following a vegan lifestyle, at least among responders.
The proof of the (dairy-free) pudding is in the eating ─ how much did participants stick to the challenge?
The first Veganuár challenge was definitely successful in keeping 47.6% of the responding participants entirely plant-based during the program, and in addition, 57% were able to eliminate all animal products and services. These people made the commitment of sticking with an animal-free lifestyle and never wearing wool again or going to the circus, for instance.
One of the most exciting questions for the organizers was whether the participants enjoyed this month enough to continue a vegan lifestyle. 51.1% of the responders said they most definitely will stay vegan, while 37.6% said they weren’t fully committed just yet.
It was also interesting to see how the initial motivational background changed for the participants during the 31 days. While the most important incentive at the beginning was health, the scale tipped in favor of animal rights by the end of the month.
At the same time, positive changes in health were also significant for the participants. Over 800 respondents said they experienced one or more of the following:
- blood glucose levels returned to normal
- improved digestion
- easier weight loss
- improved eczema symptoms
- more peaceful sleep
- more energy
- better skin.
From omnivore to vegan ─ this is what participants had to face
The organizers were, of course, aware of the fact that for most participants, transitioning to veganism means an enormous lifestyle change. This is why the team at Prove.hu was ready to help keen Veganuár followers with educational articles, guides, and tips, as well as 35 vegan recipes to help ease the transition to a plant-based diet.
Despite the help from organizers and the supportive community, there were, naturally, some obstacles that initially made the challenge hard for participants. The biggest issue, according to responders, was that they had few places to choose from if they wanted to eat out, or simply got hungry at work but didn’t take food from home.
Respondents also said they spent a lot of time reading food labels and lists of ingredients, which required much more attentive preparation than usual. In the beginning, it was also difficult for some that they needed to do more home cooking, and it initially took them longer than usual to acquire ingredients.
256 participants highlighted that they suffered particularly hurtful comments from non-vegans, as well as the complete lack of support they experienced.
The power of community
At the same time, the negative attitudes from acquaintances were somewhat counteracted by the incredibly open-minded and helpful virtual community that came together in the Hungarian Veganuár 2020 group that boasts over 5100 members today, where more recipes, shopping tips, and encouraging words had awaited participants and await those joining now and later. Here, no one has ever been beheaded for a slipup, and the organizers have never had to interfere or ban anyone from the group because of hurtful comments, even though space is shared by vegans, omnivores, and vegetarians.
Although January is long over, Veganuár 2020 is open all year for everyone who would like to focus more on the animals, the environment, and their own health. It is especially important now, in the face of the threat that the coronavirus poses, to strengthen our immune systems with more vitamins and minerals.
Maybe the madness of the following months that we mostly have to overcome within the safe walls of our homes will give us enough space and time to master a vegan diet full of vitamins. The vegan recipes are already there, and the rest can come later.
A Prove.hu vegán szemmel mutatja be a világot - növényi alapú receptek, riportok itthonról és a nagyvilágból, elemzések, véleménycikkek és még sok más.