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Brighton Journal | July 21, 2019

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Is ‘Veganuary’ a temporary or long term solution?

Is ‘Veganuary’ a temporary or long term solution?
Hannah Midgley

We spoke to the Brighton branch of Direct Action Everywhere about Veganuary, the animal rights activist group responsible for demonstrations in supermarkets around the city.

January is a time of trying new things, and for hundreds of thousands of people, that new thing is a vegan diet. ‘Veganuary’ is a charity organisation encouraging people to pledge to stop eating animal products for the first month of the year and beyond.

With more media coverage on the environmental, ethical, and health benefits of veganism, the charity aims to reach 300,000 more people this year. In 2018, 43% of people signed up for animal welfare reason; however, this was closely followed by 39% choosing the plant-based diet for personal health reasons.

“It is more important than ever that people become activists.”

Brighton Journal spoke to the Brighton branch of animals rights activist group, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) about how effective ‘Veganuary’ month is. The group are known locally for hosting demonstrations in public places, such as playing animal slaughter noises in a steakhouse and forming a human chain around the meat aisle at Waitrose in December.

They are committed to non-violent approaches “to empower activists to take strong and confident action wherever animals are being enslaved, killed or exploited”. The group has aroused up global conversations on animal rights by raising awareness and consider everyone fighting for animal liberation to be their allies.

Steakhouse protest in November 2018 © DxE Brighton

Although the fundamental beliefs align with Veganuary, a spokeswoman for DxE Brighton acknowledged the differences in their initiatives: “I do believe they are both incredibly important in creating a shift away from animal exploitation. DxE focuses on disrupting speciesism. We use techniques used in previous social justice movements to create systematic long-lasting change.”

On their website, Veganuary state they want to make participants aware of all of the positive impacts a vegan diet can have on animals, health, and the environment. They offer resources like recipes, starter kits and meal plans or encourage people to use the month to raise money for charitable causes.

“We are not fighting for bigger vegan sections in supermarkets.”

Brighton’s DxE spokeswoman commented: “It is great that [people] are trying out a more compassionate and sustainable diet but we need to remember that veganism is about an ethical stance opposing the mass oppression of animals and not a fad diet.”

Veganism has previously been linked to clean eating and fad diets, popularised by wellness personalities like food writer, Ella Mills, known for her Deliciously Ella cookbook range. With more emphasis on the self as evidenced by the statistics, animal rights groups like DxE are creating more outreach than ever.

December 2018 protest around Turkey aisle in supermarket © DxE Brighton

So how many people are sticking to veganism after the January month? According to a survey conducted by the organisation, Veganuary predicts around 62% of people who sign up will continue with a vegan diet after the January period.

DxE Brighton would like to see veganism become less about the individual, focusing more about the welfare of animals: “Its great to see more vegan options popping up everywhere but we are not fighting for bigger vegan sections in supermarkets. We are fighting for animal rights, we are fighting for justice.”

“We use techniques used in previous social justice movements.”

Although the two organisations share similar ideals, it is clear Direct Action Everywhere have one sole focus: animal liberation. On the other hand, Veganuary is offering the public multiple angles an individual may decide to go vegan.

DxE Brighton said: “It is clear that a global shift towards veganism is not only necessary for the planet’s survival but something that is happening. However, we still have so far to go and so it is more important than ever that people become activists and fight for the unheard victims.”

The organisation’s next call to action in Brighton is this Saturday (12 Jan). DxE will be confronting speciesism and pushing for the public’s ‘right to know’ what happened to the animals before they ended up on the shelves.

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