Why you failed Veganuary

Charlotte Woodard 16 February 2021


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media

Image courtesy of Robert Bye on Unsplash


2020 was a year doomed from start to end, but as we step into untraversed temporal waters, there is still the feeling that we can have a say in the trajectory of 2021, at least we can try to regain more control over our own lives. For many, the month of January is the perfect opportunity to turn a new leaf and it is no different this year. Many of us fell into year-long slumps last year, so the appeal of being able to turn your self and your life around at the beginning of a New Year was stronger than ever this time around.


That’s where January-long lifestyle challenges come in: challenges such as Veganuary and Dry January are on the to-do list of every individual who wants to better themselves this year; 582,538 people having taken the pledge to be vegan for the whole month. But throwing yourself head-first into a new lifestyle for 30 days is not necessarily conducive to long term self-improvement and consistency. Veganuary is generally successful, with the 2020 report showing that 72% of participants planned to stay vegan after the end of the month; despite the fact that only 59% of participants actually managed to remain fully vegan for the whole month. That is likely the result of poor planning and unrealistic expectations. It’s always worth being prepared before taking a leap onto a bandwagon so that you don’t fall short and disappoint yourself by failing.


It’s easier to be vegan now than ever before, with over 1200 new plant-based products having been launched ahead of last year’s Veganuary alone. As someone who tried to go vegan during the month of November, I learnt first-hand that drastic dietary changes require thoughtful planning and a good understanding of how nutrition works. Failing to track my protein intake meant that I consumed way less protein than my body needed, which made me light-headed and fatigued. Maintaining healthy, balanced nutrition is not difficult on a vegan diet but adopting this lifestyle should not be based on a whim. If you find yourself feeling less energetic on a vegan diet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that veganism isn’t right for you; but rather that your approach was not right for the diet.


The restrictive aspects of veganism were the most discouraging: I was too focused on what I couldn’t eat, couldn’t do rather than on the exciting new possibilities and alternatives the diet offers. As a society, we are trying to move away from toxic diet culture, yet when it comes to personal mindsets, we fall prey to harmful ideals. Diet culture equates health and self-improvement with restriction, so we fixate on what we can’t eat, can’t drink if we want to be healthy; rather than what we can be adding to our meals to get all the nutrients we need. Repressive mindsets make trend-participants crave meat, dairy and eggs more intensely, sending unprepared participants straight to McDonald’s for a chicken nugget box on January 2nd.


With a continuous focus on taking things away in our lifestyle, how can we ever expect to change? If you want to make lasting long-term changes to your lifestyle, it is imperative that those changes should not only improve your health but your life in general. When well-planned and thought out, trying veganism for a month should be a joyful experience of discovering new recipes and environmentally friendly practices that improve your wellbeing. At the end of the day, a challenge should be fun and beneficial; otherwise, how could it be the right way to start a new year?


If like me, going fully vegan is not a realistic option for you right now, vegan practices and principles are still worth incorporating into our lives, for our benefit and the benefit of the planet. But you’re likely to miss all the fun and benefits of Veganuary if you start off on the wrong foot and focus on restrictions. If you want to make a change, you should be serious in making it and while also being able to have fun with it.

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