Veganuary campaign set for biggest year thanks to Covid-inspired diet overhauls

The organisers behind the annual Veganuary campaign are preparing for their biggest year yet, with more people having tried plant-based diets during the pandemic.

In August, a survey commissioned by Veganuary found that a third of people in the UK were eating more vegan food as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, primarily in a bid to be healthier.

Now, the organisers are hoping that 500,000 people will sign up to its annual month-long veganism pledge, with a record 400,000 having done so last year.

More than 350,000 people have already officially signed-up to take part this year, which is a 50 per cent increase from the same time last year. 

Among those signing up are the employees of some of the UK’s largest multinational companies, including Nestle and PwC.

Marco Settembri, the chief executive of Nestlé (Europe, Middle East and north Africa) said: “A well-planned plant-based diet can meet nutritional needs during all stages of life while there are environmental and health benefits too.

“This year I am passing the baton and encouraging all employees to participate in Veganuary and sign up to the challenge. I am happy to be part of this movement as it grows across Europe and beyond.”

Additionally, April Preston, the director of product development at Marks & Spencer, said it would be expanding its vegan own-label Plant Kitchen range in anticipation of Veganuary.

“The M&S food leadership team is getting fully involved and will be creating a series of fun, weekly videos that we will be sharing internally, comparing different Plant Kitchen products and their meat equivalents and finding out which comes top,” she said.

While a plant-based diet cannot prevent contracting Covid-19, health experts have made links between a diet rich in vegetables, grains and beans, and better immunity function.

“It can treat the underlying conditions that can exacerbate its severity,” said Susan Levin of Barnard Medical Center.

For example, a recent review published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that vegetarian diets were associated with lower blood pressure compared with omnivorous diets.

And a study in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology found that consuming a diet that is mostly or exclusively vegan can be beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of hypertension.

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