Is Veganuary helping people adopt healthy and environmentally sustainable diets?

Added on
17 Jan 2020
Is Veganuary helping people adopt healthy and environmentally sustainable diets?

Veganuary aims to recruit over 350,000 individuals across 159 countries in 2020.  That's 100,000 more than 2019 and almost half the 2019 Veganuary participants surveyed stated that they would remain vegan. 

According to the latest Vegan Society's statistics, 600,000 UK individuals (<1% of the population) are vegan. This number has quadrupled since 2014.

More impressive are the figures for the number of UK 'flexitarians' and the increase in demand for plant-based alternative foods and drinks.

  • A third of the UK population (22 million individuals) are identifying as 'flexitarians' who purchase 92% of plant-based meals
  • Consumers spent £30 million on meat-free options in 2019
  • The UK vegan market was estimated to be worth £572 million in 2019
  • 1.31 million UK individuals gave up meat in January 2019 - almost 5% of the population
  • This trend is predominantly driven by females
  • Top reasons for opting to go meat-free: healthier, animal welfare and the environment

With the trend continuing to rise and the increase noise for more plant-based diets for health and environment, means that plant-based diets are here to stay.

It is now even more important that the dietitians become more involved with public health messaging on plant-based diets to help ensure consumers are making the transition in a balanced and healthy approach.

The scientific evidence for both health and sustainability is consistent; populations need to adopt diets predominantly based on healthy plant foods (beans, pulses, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruit and vegetables) and begin to moderate intakes of meat and dairy.  The emphasis is on a healthy diet without the need to exclude any major food groups.  With less than 1% of the UK population achieving the Eatwell guide, we have a long way to go...but helping consumers take small and realistic positive steps is important i.e. focusing on increasing healthy plant foods rather than focusing on reducing/avoiding foods. 

The Eatwell guide is an excellent example of recommendations that are nutritionally balanced and result in a 30% reduced carbon footprint compared to our current eating habits.

The BDA One Blue Dot® is a great place to start for scientific and practical guidance on how health professionals can help consumers achieve realistic balanced dietary patterns that are good for health and environment.


  1. Veganuary Business Support Toolkit 2020.  Inspiration for brands, restaurants and retailers to get involved in Veganuary 2020.  Available at: https://uk.veganuary.com/corporate-collaborations
  2. The Vegan Society.  News: media statistics: Veganism in the UK 2019.  Available at:  https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics
  3. Harland JA, Buttriss J and Gibson S.  Achieving Eatwell plate recommendations: is this a route to improving both sustainability and healthy eating? Nutrition Bulletin 2012;37:324–343
  4. BDA One Blue Dot® Online Resources.  Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/professional/resources/environmentally_sustainable_diet_toolkit_-_one_blue_dot