Regenuary, the alternative to Veganuary

Lets talk about Veganuary, since 2014 it has inspired more than 1 million people to try a plant-based diet for the month of January and possibly beyond. Reasons people give for choosing to lower their meat intake include protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, improving their health and to lesson damage to the planet by large scale food production. A record number of people are switching to plant based alternatives and those that do try meat-free alternatives continue to eat a vegan diet at least once a week thereafter.

The lesser known and newer alternative eating plan is Regenuary. Founded by The Ethical Butcher, Regenuary is promoted as the alternative to Veganuary and promotes eating meat from sustainable sources. The general idea is to ask consumers to source their food more responsibly, and if possible, locally. The movement is backed by farmers who want to see meat consumption as part of a sustainable future. Meat that has been farmed using regenerative agriculture; a conservationist approach to farming principles that increase biodiversity, enhances eco-systems and aims to capture carbon in the soil, promoting pollinating insects, water quality and flood mitigation.

Glen Burrows, co-founder of The Ethical Butcher, says “big manufacturers are replacing factory-farmed meat with processed vegan food, which is not solving a problem, its shifting it somewhere else. It’s about being holistic rather than reductionist”.

What both movements seem to agree on is that factory farming is a problem. Regenerative farming, be it for meat or crops, is about leaving nature in a better place and producing higher quality produce. And it seems that people are interested, with farmers gaining a growing following on social media. Previously farmers were encouraged into mono-cultural farming, the use of fertilizers and often received misguided advice from the government. More and more farmers are now letting nature lead the way, often producing less but it really is quality over quantity.

Regenuary highlights the benefits of food that is not imported but local and seasonal. We have to consider the impact of importing avocados and soy-based products, both of which have been blamed for mass deforestation, water pollution and health problems for local farming communities. But it really shouldn’t be about vegan versus omnivore, but about being well informed, having a discussion and thinking about how we can implement better choices about what we eat not just for the month of January but for years to come.

For me sustainability is a balance, I am not a vegan but at least half of our family meals are meat free, we do use our local supermarket but where we can we buy from our local farm shops and support local business. The Covid-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the benefits of shopping locally and all independent’s have this opportunity to expand the conversation to all aspects of locally made produce from all industries. The best way forward seems to be a balanced, realistic and supportive approach and perhaps most importantly not judging someone else’s choices but opening a discussion around the topic.