Veganuary expects biggest year yet as Harrods, Superdrug and Volkswagen join movement

More big firms have joined the global campaign that encourages people to eat only plant-based food each January for the first time, boosting participation in the movement to new heights.

Veganuary expects to reach two million participants by the end of January 2021 since its launch in 2014, after Harrods, Superdrug and Volkswagen UK signed up to its “workplace challenge” this year.

Last year, the group exceeded its target for new participants after 582,538 people signed up for the challenge by the first month of the year, compared to 400,000 people in 2020.

The campaign received a massive push the year before after more than 100 celebrities, including Jane Goodall, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney, John Bishop and Sarah Pascoe, encouraged people to sign up for Veganuary to help fight the climate crisis.

More than 75 businesses are taking part in the group’s “workplace challenge” – which encourages employees to go vegan for 31 days – including Sky, Papa John’s, Marks & Spencer, and NHS Supply Chain, among others.

Cian O’ Brien, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK, said: “Our business is focused on driving increased sustainability. As a responsible vehicle manufacturer, we are focused on driving electrification and play a leading role in shaping future mobility in a sustainable way.

“However, sustainability is broader and the opportunity to make a personal contribution through changing our habits has to be explored. Hence, I am happy to try Veganuary and encourage colleagues to give it a go and sometimes small changes can make a real difference.”

Jo Mackie, customer and people director at Superdrug, said that the pharmacy retailer’s own-brand products are suitable for vegans, making it a “community that champions the belief that delivering accessible retail shouldn’t cost the earth”.

“I hope you’ll dip a toe into trying out a vegan lifestyle for just one month this January – I’m excited to see lots of us supporting this amazing cause!” she added.

Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s head of communications, said it was “great to have so many businesses putting their values into action”.

Taking on the campaign’s challenge is a “fun way to unite” teams, she said, while “demonstrating [businesses’] commitment to reducing their impact on the planet and improving the health and wellbeing of their employees”.

“With a recent YouGov survey showing that 34 per cent of Brits are interested in trying a vegan/plant-based diet, we’re sure their employees will appreciate this helping hand.”

By the end of January 2021, the UK had seen record sales of plant-based foods, which increased by 50 per cent year-on-year.

The data, released by Dunnhumby Beyond, showed that sales of vegan food items represented a record £12m, driven by shoppers exploring new plant-based ranges. Many were also new to the vegan lifestyle, with nearly 31 per cent buying foods from the “meat and dairy alternatives” category for the first time.

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