Vegan Society campaign aims to inspire would-be vegans to make ‘one little switch’ as survey shows a quarter don’t know where to start.
As the effects of climate breakdown continue to make headlines, more and more people are keen to do what they can to minimise their individual impact on the environment. A vegan diet is among the simpler lifestyle changes people can make to help sustain our planet, along with its resources and inhabitants.
To help people begin their plant-based journey, The Vegan Society has, on World Environmental Health Day, relaunched its Plate Up for the Planet campaign to help more people take the first steps on their vegan journey, beginning with just one little switch.
A major independent study by Oxford University found that if everybody followed a plant-based diet, food-related climate emissions would fall by 70%. The study’s lead author concluded: “Avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth”, since animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has also presented data on the environmental impacts of diets, further demonstrating a vegan diet as the lowest impact across a range of environmental measures.
A survey  launched, as part of the campaign, found around one in four non-vegan participants, who had previously indicated they would be open to trying a plant-based diet in the future, said they did not know “where to start”.
The society’s Plate Up for the Planet campaign aims to help people take the first steps on their vegan journey by switching to animal product alternatives and demonstrate that is easier than people may think.
Rachel Timberly, a legal executive from Manchester, said going vegan was easier than she expected, after reading about the negative impact of animal agriculture on the climate.
She explained: “I was vegetarian six months before going vegan. Me and my husband did Veganuary which we did only plan to do for a month and found it pretty easy, and just carried on. It surprised us, in that first month, that we were spoiled with all these new things to try and at how quickly we got used to using dairy alternatives in coffee.
I was a big cheese lover but naturally, when I went vegan, I had cheese less. Some of the more expensive vegan brands are really good but we have them as a bit of a treat. It’s just trial and error finding which ones are nice; we like the Applewood Vegan variety.”
While a fondness for dairy cheese is a common barrier to veganism, chicken emerged as the food participants felt they would miss most.
As well as Applewood Vegan cheese, Rachel also listed Richmond Meat Free Chargrilled No-Chicken Pieces among her favourite vegan alternatives, both which are registered with the Vegan Society's Vegan Trademark.
But, when it comes to meat replacements, like-for-like alternatives are not the only option. Cheap and tasty substitutes can include a variety of cupboard ingredients like lentils, chickpeas and beans which are packed with protein.
Rachel explained that as the couple – both now fully vegan – continued to experiment with plant-based food, not only were their food bills cheaper but they had been enjoying a more creative approach to cooking. She added: “When we first went vegan it was more expensive but that’s because we were going for all the meat and cheese replacements. But, more recently, we’ve started cooking more wholefoods and it’s definitely cheaper. In the last six months we’ve seen a massive drop in our food shopping bills.
We’ve started cooking with chickpeas and lentils and making curries from scratch by ordering cooking kits which have pretty good vegan options, especially when you’re not sure where to start. I would have never cooked anything like that when I was an omnivore but we’ve got into Asian cooking and become more confident.”
To help those like Rachel, who want to reduce their impact on the environment, One Little Switch aims to encourage people make that first important step on their vegan journey by providing recipes and a free eBook to help inspire people along the way.
The Vegan Society's Campaigns Manager, Hannah Coyne, said: “We want to show that every journey begins with a single step – whether it’s swapping dairy milk for a plant alternative or using lentils in place of minced meat.
Following a vegan diet can drastically reduce our carbon footprint while also being tasty, healthy and affordable so there’s no reason not to give it a try. Collectively, we can make a difference to the health of the planet – billions of lives depend on it.”
For information, tips and recipes to inspire you to make ‘one little switch’ visit the campaign page and download the free ebook: One Little Switch.
 Two-part survey including a total of 998 participants, carried out by Attest in June – July 2022