At least 20,000 people in the UK have put their names to a campaign aimed at encouraging people to go vegan for the month of January.
Veganuary is aimed at persuading people to try to live without meat, fish and other animal based food, such as dairy products, for a substantial period of time.
What is left is a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, and good quality fats, such as those contained in nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
Its proponents say it is not as difficult as it sounds and has several benefits.
“It’s not just about a healthier lifestyle,” said Jane Land, the founder of Veganuary. “Going vegan also has benefits for the environment and helps reduce cruelty to for animals.
“More than 75 per cent of people who have tried going vegan for a month report an improvement in their health. They said they slept better and they lost an average of 6lbs as a result of their changed diet.”
Veganuary is an international initiative, with thousands taking part in the US. But the second highest number of participants comes from Britain, where more than 3,200 people took part last year .
The campaign follows from other initiatives, such as meat-free Mondays, which encourage people to consume fewer animal products.
But Ms Land added: “While going meat-free one day a week has a significant impact on reducing the suffering of animals, we feel extending that one day to 30 really gives people the chance to break those meaty-habits and experience the benefits of veganism.”
The organisers say that 51 per cent of people who give it a go for a month decide to remain on a vegan diet.
Among Veganuary supporters are several celebrities, such as Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer; actors Martin Shaw, Peter Egan and Kellie Bright; and the poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
Zephaniah said: “Embracing the month of Veganuary is a great way to start the year; it could even be the way to start a new life. You’ll be feeling much better for it.”
Veganuary follows in the footsteps of Dry January, which last year saw two million people reduce their alcohol consumption during the first month of the year.
A study published on Friday found that the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, adopted by 35 per cent of people who made one, followed by ‘getting fit’, by a third of people and ‘eat more healthily’, by 31 per cent.
These were followed by ‘take more care of my appearance’ (15%), ‘see more of friends/family (14%), and ‘get a better work-to-life balance (12%)
Eleven per cent of people say they want to drink less alcohol or stop altogether.
However, experts advise people who are hoping to adopt a long-term healthier regime to take it step by step rather than making drastic overnight changes to their lifestyle.
Veganuary has produced an advice pack to help people shop and cook vegan. It is available at veganuary.com