Hello and welcome to episode 95 of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe. And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.
And as I am recording this we are now just a couple of weeks away from Christmas 2022, so most companies would be thinking about winding down towards the holiday period, but not if you are a VEGAN business! Because to us, January (or as we like to call it, Veganuary) can be one of the busiest times of the year and the chance for you to get some great visibility around your company. So today we’re going to be looking at how you can make the most of Veganuary as a vegan business – and just in the interests of transparency, we do cover Veganuary around this time every year on the podcast because it is such an important fixture in the vegan calendar, but this year is also Veganuary’s TENTH year. So if you’ve not really done anything around Veganuary before then that tenth anniversary is the perfect excuse for your business to support and link up with the campaign.
First of all though, I just want to give you a quick update on what’s been happening at the Tribe – and thank you SO MUCH for all the messages that you sent through to Lisa and myself after the last episode where we made a couple of little announcements, both about having just got married (and yes, I did genuinely record the last episode on the eve of our wedding) and that we are also expecting a new addition to the family early next year. As I said, I now have a renewed hands-on interest in the vegan children and baby sector.
But also thank you for all the positive feedback we got after our Vegan Business Tribe Live event that we ran over two days at the London Olympia last month as part of VegfestUK. And if you couldn’t get to London to be part of Vegan Business Tribe Live, then the recordings of all eleven sessions are now available for you to watch back in our Vegan Business Academy section of the website. And they were great sessions. We had over twenty speakers and panellists from some amazing vegan companies and organisations. They were packed with useful information and some of them were actually very entertaining too. I won’t spoil the story of what happened when Wenda Shehata, the founder of Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary, sent two volunteers to go feed the pigs and they never returned. But let’s just say that Susan Joyce from Little Green Pigeon who was hosting that panel was struggling to contain herself.
But we also had a lot more serious discussions and presentations about how to find investors, how to scale up a business, how to start a podcast, how to write a book and much more – so you can watch all the live recordings back in the members’ section of the website along with hundreds of hours of other content for you to watch, read and listen to. And if you are a regular listener to this podcast and you are NOT YET a member of Vegan Business Tribe, then seriously – I need to know what’s stopping you? Because as a member not only do you get access to all our courses and content, you also get access to our live online events and business clinics, you get to be part of our wonderful Community Hub to ask questions and share your wins with hundreds of other vegan business owners, and you also get access to lots of other opportunities as a member. For example, we’re speaking about Veganuary today and so if you are a Vegan Business Tribe member and you have a special Veganuary offer, then you can submit it to us and we’ll put it on our website and send it out to our full mailing list too.
And, not wanting to do the hard sell on you here (but I’m going to anyway) being a member of Vegan Business Tribe is also what funds us, it allows us to not just keep putting out this podcast but it also allows us to do all the behind the scenes work we do to support and champion the vegan business scene around the world, and we really couldn’t do what we do without you. So if you are not yet a member, just head over to the website at veganbusinesstribe.com, click on the big ‘join’ button on the homepage and I look forward to meeting you on the other side to find out more about your business – or even just your idea for a business!
Right, so let’s get into this. Veganuary 2023 will soon be here, and if you’re not familiar with the campaign it started in 2014 when Veganuary founders Matthew Glover and Jane Land (who actually met on a vegan dating app may I add!) created a challenge for people to try going vegan throughout January – and about 3,000 people signed up. Veganuary 2022 had more than 600 thousand people sign-up. But Veganuary estimate that ten times as many people actually take part in the challenge than officially sign-up through the Veganauary website, with Kantar data showing that one in five of the UK population alone attempted to give up animal products during the month of January last year. That’s huge. That’s millions of people being interested enough in veganism, for whatever their reasons, to make a substantial change to their habits for a month. And that mass change in consumer behaviour brings a spotlight to anything and everything vegan for a month.
In fact, most people don’t realise that Veganuary is an official campaign that you sign-up for, but people are many more times likely to make it successfully to the end of Veganuary if they sign-up through the website. Because if they do, they then get access to a free celebrity vegan cookbook, they get meal plans, and they get a daily email with tips and support to guide them through the month. And if someone signs up officially through the website, then research shows that those people are also more likely to make a real connection with veganism and STAY vegan too. And THIS is why as a vegan business, it’s really important to not just promote Veganuary and look at it as a way to get more visibility, it’s really important that we actually get people to sign-up to the campaign through the website too so that they get all that extra support and information.
It’s really easy to do this, just direct people to the veganuary.com website and there they can sign up to the 31-day coaching emails, the free cookbook and meal plans and everything else you get – in fact I think there’s a new OnePot meal plan this year that I’ll have to download myself!
Veganuary spend a lot of time and resources on their research and following up with those who sign-up for the challenge each year to find out what impact it had, and they found that 83% of those who officially signed up to Veganuary through the website planned to make permanent changes to their diet as a result. 36% said they planned to stay vegan. And it’s that 83% who were simply planning to make a change to what they eat that I get most excited about, because for a lot of us – going vegan wasn’t an overnight change. It took me, perhaps ten years, of going through meat reduction, then I was vegetarian for a number of years, then I started reducing dairy until Lisa and I eventually turned vegan together. So getting people started on that journey, getting them to start making changes is hugely important. But the statistic that really impressed me the most from Veganuary’s follow-up survey was the reason why people wanted to try Veganuary in the first place.
The majority of the people who took up the challenge to go vegan for a month didn’t do so for the environment, they didn’t do so for their personal health (although that was the second largest reason), but 44% of the people who signed up said their motivation to try being vegan for a month was because of the animals. Now, for a movement that’s always had to employ ‘vegan by stealth’ tactics, that’s quite a statistic. It just goes to show that there’s more room for vegan brands to talk about the ethics of veganism when they are looking to attract more non-vegan customers. And it’s also something that non-vegan companies who make plant-based products can’t talk about. Companies such as Nestle, or even McDonald’s and Burger King, they are always going to struggle to embrace the ethical message for as long as they still make the majority of their money from animal products. But animals becoming the number one reason for people trying Veganuary just shows that’s where consumer decision-making is moving.
And looking through the rest of the stats from Veganuary, there are quite a few other interesting takeaways – and you can read this report for yourself, Veganuary publishes it each year. Just search for ‘The Official Veganuary Participant Survey 2022’ to download the full PDF. But one final thing I’ll pull out from the stats was what people found as being their biggest challenge during Veganuary. And still the biggest challenge, at 26%, was dining out. Which is surprising with the uptake we’ve seen from most restaurant chains embracing Veganuary, but on the flip side, only 16% of people said that missing non-vegan food was their biggest challenge. And I guess that just shows where the vegan market is at the moment. I was at the Plant Powered World Expo Europe a couple of weeks ago and the latest products on show there are getting closer and closer to animal-based products, even to the point where companies are now adding fat to plant-based products to make them cook and fry more like animal meat. It was greasy and fatty and I swear it will only be a matter of time until someone starts adding cholesterol to plant-based products too.
So Veganuary are doing amazing work, and I’ve been lucky to meet up with quite a few members of their team over this last six months or so and they are seriously dedicated people running the organisation as you would expect. And as vegan businesses, we should be getting behind the campaign and help drive more people to that sign-up page. But by promoting Veganuary to our own customers and contacts, it also brings huge benefits and visibility to our companies too. The campaign has a lot of visibility – for example, we were working with a supplements company a year or two ago, and every time they did a post on their social media that included the official Veganuary logo, they got a third more click-throughs than the same post without it. And because Veganuary relies on businesses partnering with the challenge to promote the campaign, they make it incredibly easy for you to do so – no matter the size of your business. In fact, you don’t even need to ask them or register your business as a partner, you just need to download their business support toolkit and that gives you everything you need to show that your business supports the campaign. You can use the official Veganuary logo and brand assets on your marketing and website, they just ask you to promote the link to the sign-up form in return.
And although Veganuary started in the UK, the campaign has really gained traction around the world. There are now more sign-ups to the campaign in the USA than in any other country, and Veganuary has offices in the UK, Germany, India, and North, South and Central America. But they also work with partner organisations around the world, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find some information and support that has been created specifically for your country.
Again, just search for the Veganuary Business Support Toolkit 2023, or you can also find a link to it on the corporate collaboration page on the Veganuary website. And this year they have also pre-prepared a load of social media graphics, posters and point-of-sale material that you can download and use yourself – and I especially like their new ‘where there’s hummus there’s hope’ graphics that are new for 2023.
So that’s all good and well, but what can you actually do to get involved with the campaign as a business? Well, you CAN just shout about it. It’s the most lazy option but if you do nothing else then just post that your company is supporting Veganauary, give a link to the sign-up page and make sure you use the official assets in your marketing. Just doing this will mean that you tap into all that extra visibility surrounding the campaign in January. But a lot of companies also look to do more to take advantage of all these new people taking an interest in veganism, so you might want to create a special offer or launch a new product to tie in with the campaign. People will have friends and family who are taking on the Veganuary challenge and they will share products and offers with them, even if they are not taking up the challenge themselves.
So maybe you can put on a special trial offer during January to tie in with the campaign, or do something like a two-for-one offer if you sell a physical product. Think about the kind of people who are taking the challenge. They are in the main non-vegans who are wanting to learn more, so simply highlighting that your product is vegan, alongside the Veganuary logo, may be enough to pick up some new customers. This is a perfect time to get those non-vegans to try you out.
It might be that you want to use Veganuary to highlight your own vegan ethics, and I’ve seen companies donate a proportion of their sales during Veganauary to an animal rescue, or creating a specific Veganuary product and giving all the profits from that to a charity. Something like this might give you an amazing news story, and also means some money goes to an exceptionally good cause at the same time.
Or it might be the case that although you are a vegan company or professional, you don’t lead with ‘vegan’ as a business and most of your customers are not vegan themselves. If so, you have got the excuse that you have literally been waiting for all year to start talking to your customers about veganism and challenging them to try it out for a month. You can talk about the health benefits, you can talk about the environmental benefits, or as Veganuary’s survey showed us, you can also talk about the animal and ethical side of trying out vegan for a month and encourage them to sign-up to the website.
And maybe you work for a non-vegan business. Petition the company to take on the Veganuary workplace challenge and offer to be the coordinator for it. One of our Vegan Business Tribe members, Matt O’Hara, works for a large financial services company and he organises their Veganuary workplace challenge and creates new vegans amongst his colleagues every year. And this year we’ve been able to link him up with Veganauary’s corporate engagement team who are going to hopefully actually come in and run some sessions with the company’s workforce about how to go vegan for a month. So if you work for a larger company, and you want to bring Veganuary into it, then the support is there to help you promote the campaign within the business.
Veganuary also has a number of other ways that you can link with the campaign, and in some cases they will actually promote you in return too. Now obviously, they are a small team and they are a registered charity, so they have to choose where they put their time to get the biggest impact and that means they do focus a lot on the bigger brands. But there are lots of opportunities for smaller brands too. Veganuary actively encourages you to send them your press release about how your company is getting involved with the campaign, and if it’s a great story, and especially if it’s with a really striking image, then there’s a good chance they will share it. So go listen to some of the sessions we’ve done on what makes a good story and press release and give it a go. What publicity stunt can you do that they won’t be able to resist sharing with their hundreds of thousands of followers? For example, vegan meat company This! ran a cheeky PR stunt when they sponsored the small Leicestershire village of Quorn for Veganuary, which just happens to share a name with their competitor. Now is the time to really get creative and think about what you could do that will capture the imagination of the Veganuary press team.
If you are a restaurant or cafe, then you can submit your details to their Veganuary restaurant guide, that literally gets millions of views. Veganuary also run a page on their website showing companies that have got special Veganuary offers, and as you would expect there are a lot of big brands that get listed here, but a number of our Vegan Business Tribe members have got their special offers on here also which gives you a good spike of traffic back to your website or store. And then finally, if you are a chef or nutritionist, then think about creating a new recipe specifically for Veganuary and they may well share it on their website and across their social media too. It has to be a recipe that hasn’t been published anywhere else, and obviously they are looking for something different and exciting, but it’s another great way to get featured.
But even if you don’t make it onto any of their official listings or guides, there’s still a good chance that you will be able to get a re-post on social media from the Veganuary team if you post using the #Veganuary2023 hashtag and tag them in. They are very active throughout the campaign and are always looking for great content to share, so spend a bit of time coming up with some great social media posts, something really visual and positive, and try to catch their eye.
So that’s pretty much everything you need for your business to have a really good Veganuary 2023, and hopefully we’ll be back here again in twelve month’s time talking about Veganuary 2024. And as a vegan business or a vegan professional, it’s such an easy way to take that vegan message to a wider market. So let’s wrap up by having a bullet-point recap of what your company needs to do to make the most out of Veganuary 2023.
One in five of the UK population alone attempted to give up animal products during the month of January last year. That’s a huge spike of interest in vegan products and services that you need to take advantage of.
People are far more likely to stick to a vegan diet throughout January if they sign-up to the official campaign and get the daily emails and meal plans. So make sure when you are shouting about it that you let people know there’s an official sign-up page and the benefits of registering too.
The biggest reason people gave for wanting to try Veganuary was because of the animals. That’s a huge swing away from the normal ‘vegan by stealth’ tactics we’ve all become used to throughout the rest of the year. So embrace that because the big non-vegan brands can’t.
The Veganuary campaign gets a lot of visibility and recognition, so make sure you use the official logo and brand assets on your marketing. It’s completely free to use and you don’t have to register, just search for the Veganuary Business Support Toolkit to get everything you need.
Veganuary started in the UK, but now the country with the largest number of sign-ups is the US. Veganuary has offices and partnerships around the world so link up with your local office for information dedicated to your region.
Even if you do nothing for Veganuary, at least post about the campaign to show you support it and to tap into all that extra interest in veganism. Even if someone isn’t doing the challenge themselves, they may forward your details to a friend or relative who is.
Think about having a special offer for the duration of the campaign, or maybe launch a new product or service to tie in with it. You might even want to give a proportion of your sales to your local sanctuary during the month to enforce your company’s vegan ethics.
If you work in a non-vegan business, then take a look at the Veganuary workplace challenge and get your company to sign-up. If you are a big enough company Veganuary may actually give you extra help and support – but even if you have an office of just three people, it’s still an excuse to get them to sign-up to the challenge!
Veganuary are always looking for great content to share. So come up with a really creative idea for you to celebrate the campaign, think about doing a PR stunt and send Veganuary a press release with a great photo telling them all about it. You might even get featured in next year’s business support toolkit as a great example!
There are other ways that Veganuary will promote your company in return for your support. You can submit a listing for their restaurant guide, come up with a new recipe for them to share, or submit your special offer to their website.
Post about Veganuary on your social media using the #veganuary and #veganuary2023 hashtags and try to catch the eye of their social media team so that you can get a share or repost to their hundreds of thousands of followers.
And that is it. And what a great topic to talk about, Veganuary is the time of the year that we all have permission to really shout about Veganism to a far wider audience so embrace it. And also, at Vegan Business Tribe we also feature all our member’s Veganuary offers on our own website and to our own mailing list, so make sure you get yours into us before Christmas to make sure you are included.
And if you are not yet a member of Vegan Business Tribe, then do come and get involved with us. We genuinely have the most amazing community of vegan business owners from around the world, you are not doing this on your own. We know that you are far more likely to make a success of your business if you surround yourself with other people who are on the same journey as you are. Just head over to veganbusinesstribe.com and click on the join link to sign-up.
And as a last favour, I know I know, I’m so demanding, but if you’ve enjoyed this podcast then I would love it if you could give us a 5-star review, or a thumbs up or whatever your platform allows you to do. The reviews really do help and it will only take a moment, and it just shows new listeners that this is a podcast worth listening to.
So, I’m now going to go put the Christmas tree up, you are going to go and start shouting about Veganuary, and I’ll see you on the next one!