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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Veganuary, a campaign that started in the U.K. to get people to give up meat and dairy for the month, is in its third year in the U.S., where it's catching on slowly.

  • About 500,000 people have enrolled globally so far, and a trickle of restaurant chains and food brands in the U.S. are signing on. (More people sign up over time, as the campaign progresses, which brought the number to 582,000 last year.)

Why it matters: While food and drink companies are racing to introduce plant-based products, most people want to pare back their consumption of animal-based foods rather than eliminate them altogether.

  • People like the idea of eschewing animal products, but tend to find the diet inconvenient, expensive and hard to stick to.
  • Veganism is particularly hard to swallow for men, with survey after survey showing that about 80% of people who adopt the diet are female.

Where it stands: Veganuary — pronounced with a hard "g," as in "golf" — started in the U.K. in 2014, and last year people from more than 200 countries participated.

  • The campaign is run by a U.K. nonprofit that asks people worldwide to take a 31-day vegan pledge, forgoing meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. — and perhaps continuing to eat that way.
  • "When someone signs up, they get a daily email from Veganuary with recipes, meal plans, our best advice for trying vegan," Wendy Matthews, the U.S. director of the Veganuary campaign, tells Axios.
  • They also get downloads like a celebrity cookbook and "access to a private Facebook group where they can go for advice and support, and just to celebrate triumphs and share struggles with other members of the Veganuary class of 2022."

Proponents of Veganuary — who include Alec Baldwin, Paul McCartney and New York City's new mayor, Eric Adams — say that plant-based foods are better for the environment and our health, and reduce animal cruelty.

  • In the U.K., where the campaign is more prevalent, more than 1,200 plant-based products and menus were introduced last year, including Pizza Hut’s Pepperphoni Pizza, KFC’s Zero Chicken Burger and Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara.
  • According to a 2021 YouGov survey, 31% of Americans are interested in trying the diet but had reservations about it — including nervousness that they could stick with it.

Between the lines: In 2019, Food & Wine declared that "Veganuary is the new Dry January," but also noted that sign-ups had been lagging expectations in a big way.

What they're saying: "I'm often asked about eating plant-based 85% of the time instead of going full vegan and what is the difference there?" Matthews said. "Any step towards more plant-based eating is a step in the right direction and a net positive."

  • People who do follow the diet for a full month see health improvements, she said.
  • "Some of the trends that they report are things like improved skin, more energy, a better mood — and this is just after 31 days."

The bottom line: Maintaining a vegan or vegetarian diet keeps getting easier as mass-market chains roll out new foods to meet consumer demand.

  • "It's everywhere you look," Matthews said. "We just want to help people look at the grocery store shelves and restaurant menus differently, and realize that there's already a lot of great plant-based food right in front of them."

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Jan. 5.

Go deeper

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.