Looking for a healthy start for you and the planet this New Year? Try Veganuary!

Much like the famous Dry January, Veganuary was launched in the UK in 2014 to help people adopt a plant based diet for the month of January and perhaps even make the transition on a more permanent basis. This past January saw the most participants in the challenge, Upwards of 620,000 people took the pledge to go vegan for the first month of 2022. Why take the pledge?

For the Earth

We know that producing meat and animal based products for consumption is a major contributor of methane, a greenhouse gas. Mass scale production has led to deforestation of the rainforest, decreasing the planet’s ability to absorb carbon, has severely reduced habitat leading to extinction, and pollutes our waters. According to ReGeneration, “Replacing animal protein with a diverse, plant-rich diet is one of the most effective ways we can end the climate crisis and create regenerative and resilient food systems.”

For the animals

The inhumane treatment and suffering of animals in food production is well documented. As UUs, we have made a commitment to the interdependent web of life and respect for the beings that share this world with us. The humane treatment of animals is a part of the UU Ethical Eating Statement of Conscience that was adopted in 2011, and we even have a dedicated ministry centering around the care of animals. You can find out more about UUAM here.

For your health

Also well researched and documented, the adoption of a plant-based diet is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these diets are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Research also reveals that following this type of diet will lower your risks of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, digestive disease, colon and breast cancers, and obesity. Studies also show that a plant-based diet can help to lower body weight and reduce your LDL cholesterol.

You likely already know all of these things already. Maybe making the switch seems daunting or just plain unappealing. Veganuary tries to make it as easy as possible. And here’s more good news: there is no need for you to be perfect. Every time you choose plant over animal, you are making a difference. The cool thing is that you have an opportunity to make this choice at least three times a day!

When you sign up with Veganuary, you receive their Celebrity Cookbook with 25 recipes and the Vegan Starter Kit to help you get started. You then receive an email every day of the challenge with inspiration and multiple meal plans so that you can pick and choose what will work for you. For additional delicious recipes, I recommend checking out Minimalist Baker and Deliciously Ella

I highly encourage giving it a try, and if you do, I have a few suggestions:

  • Do some planning. Since these may be completely new meals and ingredients for you, it would be beneficial to look ahead to see what you will need to have on hand. Have fun learning about new ingredients!
  • Take advantage of the Happy Cow app to help you when you are dining out. It is the largest database of vegan and vegetarian dining out options out there. 
  • Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to do it all at once.
  • Find a protein you like working with. Tofu is the first that may come to mind and is definitely the OG. But there are other old favorites like tempeh and seitan that are great options. There are also amazing meat replacements like Beyond and Impossible. These are not your mother’s cardboard hot dogs!
  • Supplement B12, the one nutrient that is difficult to obtain from a plant-based diet. 

Above all else, have fun and enjoy the challenge! We would love to hear if you take the pledge and how it goes. Happy Veganuary!

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JOIN US: The Climate Action Team extends a radical welcome to activists, contemplatives, readers, meditators, questioners, tree hugging hippies, scientists, policy wonks, radicals, pacifists, nature enthusiasts, and all who seek community as we navigate our changing times together. Contact Jon Reese to connect to the CAT. Our next meeting will be in person on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 1 PM at the church. Learn more about the CAT here.

FUNDS AVAILABLE: The Carbon Offset Fund is now ready to offer grants. Read more here and consider working with another member or church group to prepare a grant request. The process is simple!