February 19th and it's already been quite a year so far for Veganism and us here at VaVUK, and this man, our Vegan King, as we like to call him, has lead the way. But more about Joaquin Phoenix later. Let's start with a look back at January, or rather Veganuary, because all records were broken and we saw the launch of so many new Vegan friendly products. Frustratingly, the whole Veganuary issue and release of mainstream vegan options can cause a degree of disquiet in parts of the vegan community.
VaVUK really thinks it shouldn't though, because with a new high of 400,000 sign ups the message is getting out there better than ever. The suggestion is that UK businesses are only 'chasing the money' when they launch a vegan product (see Greggs, KFC, Burger King, Marks & Spencers). Undoubtedly this is the reality, and yet the value of this, or lack of it for that matter, is purely determined on how it's framed. How we as Vegans, moreover as individuals, decide to perceive it. A skeptic can suggest that the corporate world has no desire to go Vegan 'for the animals' or even 'to slow climate change'. That big business is cynically manipulating the vegan world to ensure maximum profitability. This is surely true. Faceless, non vegans in the main, are shaping eating habits based on revenue streams. However that there are more and more vegan options means the transition from being a full on meat eater, or vegetarian or pescatarian, becomes immeasurably easier. If your heart truly holds the desire to end the pain and suffering of animals then logic alone suggests that every time a Greggs Vegan Steak Bake is purchased multiple positives are happening; a Vegan option has been purchased rather than a meat one which means that demand for more animal deaths is immediately reduced, that somebody new to Veganism might enjoy and tell others to try, and also that the (Vegan) CEO of Greggs can push for more Vegan options going forward. Yes Greggs is a business, it exists to create income for its shareholders. (Veganism won't halt capitalism. It shouldn't. That's a different discussion area entirely, and one that in truth should stay away from veganism 'for the animals' rather than muddy the waters). Yet consideration of the commercial realities that drive Greggs et al will lead them to create more and more vegan options going forward until all competitors have to follow suit too. If people are considering making the change to a meat and dairy free life then 'making it easier' has to be good news.
As mentioned, Veganuary saw 400,000+ sign ups. The most yet and continuing the year on year growth as hoped for. New vegan products launched for Veganuary here in the UK this year included yes the Vegan Steak Bake, but also the KFC Vegan Burger plus lots more vegan varieties at shops like M&S Plant Kitchen, the Tesco's Wicked Kitchen, a new vegan toastie at Costa, vegan doughnuts to add to the now famous vegan sausage rolls and aforementioned steak bake at Greggs, and the 'rebel burger' from Burger King.
Let's tackle the KFC Vegan Burger question. Is it right to give money to one of the largest chicken killing businesses in the world? We'd have to say not of course. But is it good that they have a vegan option now? We'd say undoubtedly yes because when a group or a family go to KFC and one person doesn't want to eat a chicken carcass they can choose not to. If KFC see this is as a successful move then they again will probably add more vegan options. KFC won't disappear but maybe in time will move to being plant based. They'll only do this is however if they do indeed sell plenty vegan burgers. Over 1 million were sold in the month of veganuary. Let's hope to mainly NON vegans who are transitioning.
VaVUK can only agree with The Vegan Society that Burger King cooking their new plant based 'Rebel Burger' on the same grill as meat is a 'wasted opportunity' as it limits take up. We can only hope they are listening.
Also in January, VaVUK was immensely proud to be offered the 'project management' role for what became known as 'Sheep Ahoy : 2020 VISION'. Sheep Ahoy is a registered charity and is an animal sanctuary near Sandwich in Kent.
Run by mother and daughter, Julia and Emma, Sheep Ahoy homes over 50 sheep and goats currently. Its totally funded by donations and desperately needs funds to purchase some land rather than renting over 4 or 5 locations as is currently the situation. When Rose Wyles (aka 'The Vegan Nutritionist') was made patron of the sanctuary she immediately decided she needed to assist with a huge fund raising effort. Walking the 268 miles of the Pennine Way, north to south, is that effort. VaVUK is assisting in promoting and awareness as much as is possible and will be working on free accommodation and vegan meals for Rose as she tackles this amazing challenge. Visit the just giving page by clicking on the photo here. To read all about Sheep Ahoy, the open day and how to adopt a sheep or goat just visit our home page and click on the sheep!
Joaquin Phoenix. What a guy. An inspiration. At the moment of his greatest success of his career he ignores protocol and speaks from the heart about life, love, the brother he lost so young, and how we all need to re-think about inequality. Be it race, gender or species. Quite brilliant, immensely touching and undeniably brave. We must ALL follow Joaquin's lead now and give voice to the voiceless. For the animals, for our own health and for the planet. The meat and dairy industries are now starting to slowly die. We need to hurry this along people.
Other January and February News:
VaVUK attended 'Plant Based Expo' on the 1st February, at Olympia in Hammersmith. Not as big and impressive as VegFest in October but still vibrant, and it was great to see our friends at ONE PLANET PIZZA and THE GREEK VEGAN DELI among others once again.
VaVUK also attended 'Vegan Nights' in Brick Lane on 30th January, and we'll be going back on May 7th. A fabulous event for vegans and it's clear that many many non-vegans were in attendance too.
Other developments in January and February here at VaVUK included the addition of our 'Vegan Sports Page' as we noted that there's an increasingly vocal and incredibly successful group of Vegan athletes. Novak Djokovic won the Australian open, Lewis Hamilton convinced Mercedes to take all leather out of new cars and we discovered the Vegan only Rugby Team here in the UK, The Green Gazelles RFC to go alongside Forest Green Rovers FC, the world's first 100% Vegan football club. We also ran 2 successful 'promo codes' for BOXXFRESH then ONE PLANET PIZZA and added our EVENTS PAGE. We go from strength to strength as we look to 'accelerate change' to the very best of our abilities.
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