• Video report by Natasha Potts.

January marks the start of the new year but also the start of 'Veganuary' - a month where some people try going meat and dairy free.

Dieticians experts say switching to a vegan diet can have many benefits. However, missing out on certain food groups can lead to insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron and calcium if they are not replaced.

Living vegan and animal product free can also mean making different choices about the clothes you wear and toiletries you buy.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary runs throughout January and is where people try out a vegan diet. Vegans do not consume anything containing or made by animals.

The Veganuary pledge is run by a UK charity called Veganuary who were founded in 2013.

A vegan diet is plant-based meaning it does not include any animal produce like meat or eggs. Being a vegan can also mean not buying items made of animal product like leather or make-up that has been tested on animals.

Credit: PA

Why do people choose to go Vegan?

One reason is an ethical argument against using animals. Many people who chose to be vegan do not want their lifestyle to involve exploiting animals in any way.

People may also go vegan as a way of living a 'greener' lifestyle. Animal agriculture is responsible for around 14 to 18 per cent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Another reason is health. Simon Winch, Veganuary CEO, said, “Research shows that health is now the second biggest driver for so many people going vegan". The NHS say that eating too much red or processed meat can increase risk of bowel cancer and heart disease.

A study carried out by medical test company Medichecks showed a vegan diet could help cut the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People involved in the research who had become vegan had lower average blood glucose levels and lower levels of unhealthy cholesterol.

Veganism seems to be growing in popularity. Participation in Veganuary has doubled each year since the first campaign. In January 2014, 3,300 people took part compared to 168,500 in 2018 according to the official Veganuary campaign.

How can I reduce my meat/dairy consumption, according to the Vegan Society.

A vegan diet is not for everyone but there are simple ways to cut back on the amount of meat or dairy you are eating. Here's a few tips:

  • Going meat-free one day a week is a small step you could take.

  • Swapping meat for vegetarian alternatives is a simple way of cutting back.

  • Make sure to ask for help with recipes and go at your own pace.

  • There are lots of vegan and vegetarian products available in mainstream supermarkets which are protein rich, to ensure you are not missing out on the right vitamins and minerals.

  • And if you're eating out, food companies like KFC, Subway and Greggs have all released vegan products this month.

Vegan Steak Bake launches in the north east. Credit: PA

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