Veganuary 2015: 30-day Vegan Challenge for the New Year

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This week as cozy lounge pants are swapped for lycra gym shorts, cigarettes are traded in for patches, and the Fry Daddy used for holiday donut holes is secured in the back of the cupboard in favor of bringing the juicer front and center - New Year's resolutions (both eventually doable and somewhat predictable) are being carried out everywhere. But what makes certain resolutions stick while others last until a vulnerable breaking point, say around January 13th?

Taking note of people's propensity to strive to be their best versions of themselves the first month of the New Year, the creators of Veganuary (a global campaign aimed at reducing meat and dairy consumption one pledge at a time) say a resolution that is grounded in support, easability, community and with a dedication to some sort of greater good is one that'll last past the 30-day benchmark.

See also: Five Best New Vegan Products of 2014

The Veganuary project was started by husband and wife team Matthew Glover and Jane Land in the U.K. in 2013. Since then, it has bloomed into a global movement that includes non-profit supporters like Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing and the Humane League.

"If you are brand new to veganism, or are trying it out for the month, first, I want to say congratulations, and thank you! That is amazing!" says The Humane League's Miami Director Elyssa Diehl.

"Eating a diet filled with a diversity of plant-based foods is a great way to stay healthy, help protect our environment, and, of course, spare innocent animals from a lifetime of suffering on a factory farm. You are not alone in taking this powerful step. Millions of people like you have made a decision just like this."

Whether you are already a supporter of Meatless Mondays, a fan of Mark Bittman's theory of vegan before 6 p.m., have always thought about reducing your meat consumption and giving a plant-based diet whole-hearted shot, or want to answer the age-old question 'where do you get your protein?', Veganuary offers a 30-day pledge to go vegan in the month of January by signing up at Veganuary.com and avoiding all meat, fish dairy and other animal products for the month. In exchange, pledge takers check in on New Years health goals and spend hours on the veganuary website that is stocked with tips on eating out, myth busting, recipes, daily animal welfare reminders, advice and testimonials from fellow vegans like Samuel l Jackson and Peter Dinklage. The facebook community for Veganuary is already at 15,600 members strong. And if you reach that mid-month slump or have a day where a familiar craving is cropping up, there are folks there to help.

"To make it happily through your first 30 days, there are a few things worth remembering. First, no one is perfect. Do your best. If you slip up, forgive yourself and jump back in.

Second, remind yourself why you made this decision and explore new information about your journey. Read books and articles. Watch documentaries. Third, you don't have to give up foods. Instead, add new favorites--Have you tried the new Sofritas option at Chipotle? You can also replace animal-based meats with plant-based meats. These days there are so many vegan alternatives to almost any food you could want--vegan chicken, ribs, milks, ice creams, candy, cheeses. Experiment with all of the options. You will find some taste better than others. If you like to cook, there are so many recipes and resources online. And, of course, I am willing to help too. Just make sure to eat colorful meals and meet your daily calorie requirements and you will be headed down the right path," says Diehl.

Many pledge takers of years past have contributed to the project, heightening the discourse on animal welfare and plant-based eating.

After the 30-day challenge, Diehl suggests staying in touch with the community by volunteering, spreading the word, or donating where you can.

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