Pledging to go without alcohol and animal-derived products in January has increased as the Dry January and Veganuary campaigns have seen thousands of people signing up to take part.
According to Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Concern that champions the Dry January campaign, almost 100,000 people registered to participate this year – the figure in 2017 was 60,000.
“We reckon this was the biggest Dry January ever,” says Dr Piper. “People from over 130 countries signed up, though the vast majority are from the UK.”
Co-founder of the charity Veganuary, Jane Land, said 167,000 people put forward their names for January 2018 compared to 60,000 for January 2017. She puts this down to celebrities coming out as vegan such as Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and a cultural shift of more people ethically sourcing the food they eat.
‘No, I’m not pregnant’
“This is my fourth Dry January,” says Liz Ladewig, an account manager from Chicago, Illinois, US. “I found out about it through Twitter originally and I thought it would be a good chance to reset after the holidays.”
“The most challenging part has been finding drinks in a bar, especially during the football play-offs. I love beer and football, so it has been hard drinking seltzer [soda water] or coffee instead. Also, I was recently promoted but couldn’t really celebrate it.
“Another challenge was that everyone wanted to know why I’m doing it. There have been lots of people asking if I’m pregnant – I’m not, but I usually explain I just like to take a month off to regroup.
“I probably won’t continue into February – I’m really looking forward to having a beer this weekend.”
Colin Fallon, an editor in Warwickshire has been on Dry January. “I initially planned to survive by keeping myself to myself,” he says.
“Apart from the obligatory couple of tweets, I didn’t mention to anyone what I was doing in case I get tempted out of it. But the difficulties I was dreading never came.
I have become a connoisseur in non-alcoholic beer! Once you find a pub that sells it and get past the initial sensory shock of seeing a huge number of beer taps and optics at the bar, you’re fine.
“Boredom was the only thing that could have driven me to fail. But I kept myself busy, mostly cooking.”
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‘So many foods contain animal products’
Author and film-maker, Lucy Sutcliffe from Phoenix, Arizona, US says she enjoyed her Veganuary: “I chose to do it for several reasons, but mainly to make a difference to animal welfare and the planet, and to challenge myself, and see if I could stick to something for an entire month.”
“Eating out with friends and finding things to eat on the menu were tricky. So many things come with dairy or meat ‘built in’, so I’d find myself having to just get multiple side dishes such as chips, hummus and vegetables that wasn’t ideal!
“I never realised just how many foods contain animal products. So many things contain dairy – even some types of bread!
“But a triumph was finding a vegan doughnut store down the street from me!”
“The most challenging aspect of this must be the milk in my coffee. Another was telling my parents, who are visiting for a few weeks,” says Jackie Wu, a graphics designer in London.
“They know that I’ve been a vegetarian for a few years, but not having animal products at all had been a bit mind-boggling for them. They were still very supportive though and they’ve cooked me many vegan Chinese meals.
“I have been posting photos online of the food my parents have been making by simply replacing meat with imitation meat from Chinatown supermarkets.”