Millions of people will try a vegan diet this month for Veganuary. But can short-term or part-time vegans really reap health and environmental benefits? New Scientist put it to the test
31 December 2019
JANUARY is the time of year when many of us take a rain check on our indulgences. We politely wave away puddings, gyms heave with new recruits and plenty of us lay off the booze. This year, it is estimated that at least 1 million people will do something even more challenging: eat a vegan diet for the month.
Choose to follow suit and you can forget about that juicy bacon sandwich, say goodbye to scrambled eggs and there will be no more milk in your coffee. It is a challenge not to be sniffed at. But it is a worthy one: the evidence suggests that, done carefully, veganism is good for our health and great for the planet.
Perhaps that explains the growing trend towards part-time veganism, of which Veganuary is just one example. The vegan before 6 pm (VB6) diet is gaining popularity in the US, principally as a means of losing weight. And the meat-free Mondays campaign is also getting traction, with more restaurants offering vegan options as well as vegetarian ones. “The thought of never eating meat again is, for most people, overwhelming,” says Toni Vernelli at Veganuary, a UK charity. A part-time vegan diet is more manageable and surely offers a portion of the same benefits.
Or does it? It is conceivable that some of those who dip briefly into vegan eating might not get the right balance of nutrients. With a lack of experience in making vegan meals, it is easy to opt for pre-prepared dishes, which may cancel out the …