Matthew Glover and Jane Land, Veganuary
Matthew is the co-founder of Veganuary. After being vegetarian for 10 years, Matthew watched ‘the video the meat industry doesn’t want you to see’ and was shocked to see the cruel realities behind the dairy and egg industries. He then went vegan. And now he wants the whole world to join him! Veganuary is Matthew’s solution to making veganism an easy and tasty experience for everyone.
Jane is the co-founder of Veganuary. She was a vegetarian for 10 years before she met Matthew. Now she wonders why it took her so long to become a vegan too! Jane thinks that Veganuary is the perfect way for people to try vegan food and learn about the suffering of farmed animals and the impact that meat-eating has on people’s health and the natural world.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody! It’s Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Together, shall we? It’s All About Food. It’s January 13, 2014, and here we are for another show, which happens to be about food. Surprise!
All right, let’s get going here. I’m real excited because we’re going to be speaking with some wonderful people out there, who really believe in what I think is so important on this planet today, especially. That is making veganism easy and tasty. Easy and tasty. It’s right for all the reasons, and why not make it delicious and easy? All the other troubles just melt away. So I’m going to bring on Matthew Glover and Jane Land.
Matthew is the co-founder of Veganuary. After being vegetarian for 10 years, he watched the video the meat industry doesn’t want you to see and was shocked to see the cruel realities behind the dairy and egg industries. He went vegan, and now he wants the whole world to join him. His solution, just like mine, is making veganism an easy and tasty experience for everyone.
Jane Land is the co-founder of Veganuary. She was vegetarian for 10 years before she met Matthew, and now she wonders why it took her so long to become a vegan too. I can understand that myself. Jane thinks that Veganuary is the perfect way for people to try vegan food and learn about the suffering of farm animals and the impact meat eating has on people’s health and the natural world. Welcome! Matthew and Jane are you both with me?
Jane Land: Hello, we’re here!
Matthew Glover: Yeah. Hi Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, great. The wonderful thing about this is you’re very far away. You’re in York, is that right?
Jane Land: That’s right.
Matthew Glover: In the UK, so it’s about 9 o’clock here.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, very well. Thank you for taking the time. It really inspires me when I know there are people everywhere who realize the importance of this mission.
Matthew Glover: It’s great to be on here. One of the things we’re finding with Veganuary is that it’s becoming truly global. We’re getting people taking part from all over the world. It’s wonderful.
Caryn Hartglass: We’re going to talk about Veganuary in a minute but I was just intrigued by the simple paragraphs that I read about you. The first thing, Jane you wonder why it took you so long to become vegan. I’ve been a vegan for 26 years and I was vegetarian for longer. There was this period when I was a vegetarian when I just didn’t know what was going on. How was it for you?
Jane Land: Before I met Matthew, I started reading a bit more into about the dairy industry and the egg industry and piecing things together. I didn’t know any other vegans, and I thought what a lot of omnivores think now: It’d be too hard, it’d be too difficult, and what would I eat? Then I actually met Matthew on a vegetarian dating site. We started going out. He was obviously vegan at the time, and I was just a vegetarian. It didn’t take him long to convert me. He said, “It is easy”, he taught me some meals, and how to do things, and most of all, he said he wouldn’t kiss me if I’d been eating cheese. So, that made me vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s funny. There are a lot of people who are vegetarian out there, and I want to say thank you for that. It’s a good thing to get started on a path, and being mindful. I remember when I was a vegetarian. Now this is a really long time ago, there was no Internet and there weren’t a lot of materials that were easily accessible to find out what was going on. I basically just didn’t want to kill animals. I didn’t really know anywhere near the horror that was involved. From time to time, so more enlightened person and I would make me feel a little uncomfortable for only being a vegetarian. I was confused, and I didn’t understand, and now I understand. It’s so hard when we’re transitioning from one place to another and we discover these realities, not to take it personally and feel offended and defensive. Sometimes we crawl back in our hole as a result.
Matthew Glover: Absolutely. It’s great to meet vegetarians. One of the things that helped me with Veganuary is there are a lot of vegetarians taking part, helping them get to that next stage. I found it took me until I was 38 years old to go vegan. I’d never met a vegan in 38 years of life, not in my part of the world. Obviously, as you mentioned in the intro, I watched this video and I had absolutely no idea about the egg industry. I didn’t know about the male chicks being ground up. Nobody tells you these things.
Caryn Hartglass: Nope. You don’t learn about it on the children’s shows on television.
Matthew Glover: No, exactly. The dairy industry, you see cows in fields and they look happy. You don’t really make that connection. You don’t think, “Well how is it their producing this milk?” It’s almost like they’re our friends and we get this extra milk they’ve got. Other than that, you just don’t think about it. I saw this video, and I started researching. It is like, “Oh my god, they need to be pregnant, like all the time?” The babies get taken away, and as soon as I realized that, vegetarian’s not good enough. I’ve got to be vegan. Like I said, I’d never met another vegan. The good thing is there’s plenty of information on the Internet. It took a couple of months of doing the research and then gradually weaning myself off it. It wasn’t a sudden thing. I’m so glad I eventually got there.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. I’m glad you did too, because you’re doing great work now and forming so many other people. I’m a little surprised, because I remember travelling to, mostly London, in the ‘90s when I did a lot of work as an engineer and I travelled a lot to Europe. I lived in France for a little while in the ‘90s, too. I was London a lot in the early ‘90s. When did Mad Cow disease start coming out? Maybe that was the late ‘90s. I remember the pubs around the Mad Cow disease time had vegan options, when people started getting scared about meat. They actually knew the word vegan. I was really surprised at that because they seemed more aware of it than most of us in the United States.
Matthew Glover: I guess it depends on which part of the UK. London is a lot more progressive. I grew up in a northern industrial town. Even beyond that, I think it depends on which circle of friends, your contacts, what they’re doing. My background is a businessman and specifically, at the time, I was involved in the building industry. I’m hanging around with builders and joiners, electricians and plasterers. They’re not vegetarian, certainly not vegan. It wasn’t something that was ever in my life. To give me that spark, it was only really that video that I stumbled upon by mistake.
Caryn Hartglass: And how did you stumble upon it? The universe put in front of you.
Matthew Glover: It was a banner advert. I had become interested in climate change; I’d been reading lots of books on that. I started to be interested in the environment movement in general. More specifically, I’d been reading about a topic called peak oil, which is to do with the amount of oil you’ve got underground. Once you reach halfway, used up half the oil that’s underground, all sorts of problems happen. I was on a blog about that, and there was a banner advert. It just said ‘The Video the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want You To See.’ I’d thought of being vegetarian, out of interest. I clicked on it and that sort of changed everything. The good thing is, I’d become so interested in environmentalism, and the vegan thing seemed to tick both boxes. It was reducing animal cruelty but it was also helping to tackle climate change and so many other environmental problems. It was a double win.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s really a triple win. Or a quadruple win. There are just so many benefits to eating plants. It’s amazing and there are no side effects or bad, bad effects. It’s all good. It’s all beautiful. You mentioned the environment, and unfortunately the environmental advocates are really slow to putting out the information about the impact of animal agriculture on the climate and the environmental devastation. This is so frustrating.
Matthew Glover: You know we’re totally with you. We contacted Greenpeace in the UK to see if they would support Veganuary. The responses that we got from various different people, it’s very disappointing. They’re a bit frightened of the topic, a bit unpalatable for their supporters, which was frustrating. We’d also be in touch with, In the UK, Green For Animal Protection. The vision of the Green Party, they’re very supportive. Trying to get the Green Party to back, even just to mention, Veganuary on their social media, they’re very reluctant to do so.
Jane Land: They’ll advocate eating less meat, but they won’t seem to go as far as saying ‘No Meat.’
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so hard to see the truth sometimes. All right, tell me about Veganuary. When did it beganuary?
Matthew Glover: We’ve never heard that one before, actually. That’s good.
Caryn Hartglass: I got a million of them; I’m here all week.
Matthew Glover: The idea started in September 2013. It was the two of us chatting. We’d been to the Animal Rights conference in the United States. I’ve been three times now, the last two times with Jane. We’d been researching the most effective activism that we can possibly do for animals. Reading books, researching as much as we could. We tried to find what our role would be. Should we be breaking into factory farms and rescuing animals or should we be handing leaflets out? This idea came up, and we started talking about Movember. I don’t know if you are familiar with it. It’s when guys all over the world grow a mustache for the month of November and at the same time raise money for prostate cancer research. Millions of people do it, they raise loads of cash, and it really raises awareness and helps. We thought, what can we do that’s got that same sort of vibe, but it’s for animals? We felt the best thing to do for animals is to go vegan, but how can we get more people to go vegan? Which month would be the best? It has got to be January; with New Year’s resolutions, people eating too much at Christmas, people being more interested in their health, new beginnings. January seemed like the correct month, so Vegan January. It sounds a bit contrived, but we came up with Veganuary. That’s really how it began, the thought process. Then we went to approach the design agency that does a lot of stuff for my business investments. We said, look can we get something ready by early November? Get a website from September to November. It was a real mad rush but we invested in the design concept and building a website. We managed to get the site launched by the third week in November 2013. Then we had five weeks promoting it up until January the 1st. We got 3,300 people to take part. We got some pretty decent media coverage in the UK, not particularly the States. It was really great, wasn’t it? We always treated it as being more of a self-launch, January 2014. Since then, we’ve been rebuilding the site since February last year. We did some research to ask people what they wanted on the site, what was clear. A lot of people understand the reasons why to go vegan, they were mainly unsure how to go vegan. They wanted more practical help. So we built the site, and put hundreds of recipes on there. We put a product directory on there to help people find substitute meats and vegan cheese, milks and things like that. We’ve got an eating out guide on there; we’ve got a myth section, what people are taking part. A lot of people ask where to get your protein from; we’ve got the answer to that on the site, and so many others. That’s basically it. We’ve been working on it all last year and then it reaches a crescendo between Christmas and New Year; that’s when people are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Our site was just going mental. We were getting 120,000 page views per day. That was incredible.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, it is interesting how people need an event or some sort of promise or commitment, like a kick in the butt, to make a change they’ve wanted to do for a long time. January is an ideal time; we all notice it’s this new year. Even though the calendar isn’t really real, it’s something we’ve created, we all buy into it and it’s a great time to make promises and pledges to do better. To do better for the planet, to do better for ourselves. I used to be a part of another organization called EarthSave International, which was founded by John Robbins in the late ‘80s. I was executive director for a while, and we had a program called the VegPledge. It was a similar thing; people pledge 60 days to move to one of three kinds of diets. We had a vegan pledge, a vegetarian pledge, and a transition pledge, to reduce or eliminate animals in their diet. What we kept finding out was, it was a no-brainer that people just needed to have a kick in the butt. Just say, “I’m going to do it” or sign a piece of paper or sign up or something. That’s the commitment they needed to keep going. Then, of course, you hope that once they get involved and try the foods, then they are going to feel better, have all this energy, realize that some of the food is better than anything they’ve ever tried, and they are hooked. Right?
Jane Land: Right, right. We’ve also found that when people were making a pledge, their friends and family seemed to be a lot more supportive, as well, rather than them just turning around and saying “I’m vegan.” That can sometimes be a bit shocking for friends and family. By saying you are doing a challenge or making a pledge it comes off as more supportive and encourages people to try it as well.
Matthew Glover: I think that’s why the strap line we’ve gone with this year is “Try Vegan this January” rather than “Go Vegan this January.” Clearly, we do want people to go vegan but we are encouraging them in a non-judgmental way, saying “just try it for the month, see how you get on.’ By giving them the ball, giving them the encouragement, the hope is a good proportion of the people taking part will stay vegan. Last year, we did a survey afterwards. Of the people who did the survey (about 750 people) half of them were suggesting they were going to stay vegan after the month. Of the other half, the bulk of those were saying “yeah, we’ve enjoyed it but we are not staying vegan but we are going to reduce the amount of chicken we eat, reduce the amount of milk we consume.” The hope is, this year, by having more practical help then we had last year that we can get an even better proportion, a bigger volume of people taking part, but also a higher conversion rate during the month, of people actually sticking with it. We’re seeing it on the Facebook group. People are already on there, People are chatting amongst themselves, giving themselves support, and people are already saying, “I’m thinking of staying.” A lot of them are saying they have no intention on January the 1st of going vegan, they were just doing it for the month. Quite a few people are saying “I’m surprised I’m feeling so good. I feel a lot better in myself.”
Caryn Hartglass: That’s wonderful. What I like to say, I haven’t said it in a while so I’ll say it now; you don’t know how good you can feel until you do it! You just don’t know! I had a friend once say, “How do you know how I feel? How do you know? I said, “I don’t know. But I do know that if you eat this way you are going to feel better than you ever did. I know that.”
Matthew Glover: It was a pleasant side effect. For me, I lost weight. I would’ve gone vegan on the basis of my health would get worse. It was a pleasant side effect that I actually lost weight and felt a lot better inside. Even more recently, we’re both trying to transition more away from junk food and to whole foods, plant-based foods. That’s what we’ve been doing in Veganuary; cutting sugar out, cutting salt out, trying to cut as much bread out of our diet and go back to basics. You feel it.
Caryn Hartglass: For some people it takes a little bit longer if they have that intention to want to really clean up their diet. For me, it’s all about eliminating pain and suffering. Killing of animals for food, it’s not necessary, I don’t want a part of it. Period. What a bonus, that the healthy, whole, minimally processed plant foods are so good for us.
Matthew Glover: I’ve been researching. Do you know of Scott Jurek?
Caryn Hartglass: Of course. The athlete.
Matthew Glover: The ultra marathon runner. I read his book middle of last year. I’ve never really been active my whole life, but I read the book and felt inspired. Jane and me went out and ran and walked 2 miles. I stuck with it since then, carried on running. Within about 7 weeks, I was running 16 miles. Then I pulled a muscle, and we got married and went on a honeymoon. Running took a backseat, but I’ve carried on sort of the backend of last year. I met up with a group of vegan runners, local people here, and a couple of them said they were signed up for this ultra marathon; a 69-mile marathon that needs completing within 24 hours. I thought “Oh, what the hell,” and signed up for it. I’ve got 20 weeks now to get myself in a position where I can run 69 miles. There’s a long Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England. It’s a wall the Romans built to keep the Scots out. It’s got a lot of history.
Caryn Hartglass: I wish you a lot of luck. I think you are crazy. If anyone could do it, someone fueled on plant food certainly can. We know that. I want to get back to the “Go Vegan” vs. “ Try Vegan.” That’s really profound to me. As a species, humans, we’ve got a lot of character issues. When we are presented with evidence that will really make a positive difference for our personal lives, for ourselves, for our family, for the community, and the whole planet, and all life on Earth, we still have to ‘walk on eggshells’ when we are feeding this information to people so we don’t offend them or put them on the defensive. We have to be so gentle. Just the word ‘go’ versus ‘try,’ can make such a difference. It’s nutty.
Matthew Glover: It is. We debated whether or not the month should be a vegetarian month, for example, so it seemed easier to people to try it. Having both being vegan, it just didn’t feel right to us.
Jane Land: We were putting money into this and we didn’t really want to invest that, into something we didn’t wholeheartedly believe in. It’s got to be vegan. Like you said, some people are vegetarian, and that’s fine. Maybe they’ll come to it; say “I’ll have this vegan meal,” maybe “I’ll have two vegan meals a day.” Fine, you’re getting that. We can’t speak being vegetarian for ourselves. It’s not that we are judgmental now, that that’s beneath us. That’s not what Veganuary is. It’s a supportive program. I the Facebook group, “Oh, I’ve had a slip. I’ve eaten this by mistake. I’m going to get thrown out the club.” Of course you’re not. We’ll offer you some advice, and help you back on the wagon, so to speak.
Caryn Hartglass: In hindsight, when I think about my own journey, it was classic. I gave up red meat, chicken. Then I gave up fish and dairy and eggs, and so on in that continuum. Now I know from someone else’s point of view, it’s better to give up dairy first. It’s the worst thing we can put in our bodies. From an environmental point of view, eggs and chicken and dairy production are devastating to the planet and also the most cruel and horrible. Just horrible things go on with the treatment of chicken, keeping the cows pregnant all the time. The way they attempt to inseminate these cows, it’s just obscene and pornographic. I don’t know people do that kind of –I don’t want to call it work – activity. It’s really, really incredible.
So I’m glad you chose vegan, because I think there’s a global consciousness. We learn individually, but we also learn as a community. I believe as a community, we’ve made that step forward. We understand, (not everyone, of course) but we can make the leap from eating animal foods to no-animal foods without having to stop along the way and consume dairy and not give that up.
Matthew Glover: That is definitely the positive side. I quite often think that I’m seeing all these positive sides because I am vegan. I’ve got more friends that I’m seeing the stuff on Facebook and I’m seeing all the news. I do feel there is a change. What we’re trying to do with Veganuary is make the word vegan a little bit more mainstream. Vegan becomes what vegetarian was twenty years ago. I think we’re getting there. I’ve read people suggesting the word needs renaming. It’s a beautiful word. It just needs branding better. I think your point about the eggshells; we have to do it ourselves with the campaign. Every now and then, we do try to put some reality in there. If you follow our Facebook page, a lot of it is real positive stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve never heard anyone say that the word should be renamed. I’m kind of intrigued by that. I am very at peace with the word vegan. I’ve been using it for a long time. What’s wrong with it?
Matthew Glover: I saw one guy on Facebook suggesting it. He called himself an animalist. When people ask him rather than the word vegan, or what an animalist is, he was explaining he was against cruelty towards animals, phrasing it in that respect. I’ve heard people saying even the word vegetarian, mostly in the very early days, the 19th century, were mostly vegan. Then people started eating dairy and eggs, and suggesting we need to take back the word vegetarian meaning vegan. I think that would just be so confusing. Where we are, I think we need to just stick with vegan and make it more popular. If we get more vegan options in restaurants, more vegan options on the shelves in supermarkets, and sell it to people in a stronger way than it has been in the past.
Caryn Hartglass: Do we really need to have an ideal word? It’s just a concept. I don’t care what people call it. I look forward to a day where it’s so common we don’t need a name for it, it’s just the way people are. People would think they would never kill: for clothing, for food. So yeah, we have some different words.
As vegans, we’re shaking up a lot of things. We’re shaking up the definition of foods, which seems to be more serious in some countries than others. The definition of milk is changing; it’s not just the liquid from an animal to feed its child. It is different liquids from different plants like soybeans and almonds. You can have nut milk; you can have all different kinds of milk. The definition behind cheese is going to change. It’s not going to be just cultured animal milk product. It’s going to be cultured and aged from these other milks: soy and nuts and grain milks. Same thing with meat. I love what’s going on with some of the companies in the United States you are probably familiar with like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. It’s just genius! They are going to make real meat and real cheese but they are going to do it without the animal. They’re making a machine or a different kind of technology that will take the place of what the animal does. They will make virtually the same products, meat and cheese, without the animal. This is exciting. These words are all going to change their meanings. We have a lot to look forward to.
Matthew Glover: How they create this is beyond me, but these companies do more for reducing animal suffering than the animal rights movement has in a short space of time. That’s really exciting that you can get more companies to embrace that. I understand that Unilever, with the lawsuit, they’ve looked to what Hampton Creek are doing. Now Unilever started to think, “Maybe we need to start thinking more plant-based with our other product ranges.” It’s that ripple effect that comes from companies.
Caryn Hartglass: If Unilever was really smart. They have so much market share across the planet they could probably wipe Hampton Creek out of their competition if they moved fast enough. Not that I want them to, but they have the capability. They just have to be smart. It’s all about economics, unfortunately. I wish that we could all make decisions based on ethics, morality but we don’t. Fortunately, making meat and cheese from plants is cheaper and it’s just going to get cheaper. Just a few more minutes, what are your favorite recipes on the Veganuary site?
Matthew Glover: That’s a tough question.
Caryn Hartglass: Or you can tell me what your favorite vegan dishes are.
Matthew Glover: Actually, we’re not great cooks.
Caryn Hartglass: Are there some restaurants you like to go to that make fun things to eat?
Matthew Glover: Traditionally, we eat out a lot, don’t we? We’ve got lots of restaurants that we go to but we’ve got to try to get more help with cooking things ourselves. We’re having a lot of salads at the minute and just mixing that up. One good thing that we made yesterday was stuffed peppers with quinoa and mushroom in it. That was pretty good for us. I know the show’s All About Food but we’re more of the activists than the food guys.
Caryn Hartglass: The thing is people need to know if they are making this transition that they’re not going to miss anything, that they are going to be able to have everything that they need and want, that the food is going to be satisfying and delicious.
Matthew Glover: To give you an idea, the recipe that we’re getting the most views on is the Really Hungry Burger, (http://www.veganuary.com/recipes/the-really-hungry-burger/) which is like this triple decker burger with mushrooms. It’s got melted vegan cheese coming off of it. The picture looks fantastic. It’s gotten like 3,500 page views, just that one recipe. We’ve got this mac n cheese on there. You name it: different curries.
Jane Land: Anything that anybody’s favorite dish is whether it is spaghetti Bolognese or pizza we’ve got a vegan version of it all. Nothing to miss out on, just a lot of new things for supper.
Caryn Hartglass: Great! I’m definitely going to have to check out that Really Hungry Burger. That sounds good.
Matthew Glover: We’ve mentioned that also we had over 3000 people last year. We are over 12,000 this year. That’s people that are signed up on the website. We have such much positive press; in the news in the States and lots of national media over here have covered it. We think it is at least double that, people who are actually taking part. We think there are a lot of people who hear about Veganuary, take part but don’t necessarily know the website or know to find to fill the details in to take the pledge.
Caryn Hartglass: One last thing, remember a few years ago the Lancet came out with a report saying the Great Britain would have to reduce their consumption of meat by 30% by 2050 or 2030 in order to reduce climate change. I’d think there would be a lot of organization that would want to promote what you are doing to try and achieve these goals.
Matthew Glover: Let’s try and beat 30% then.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s turn it all around with delicious, healthy, yummy, compassionate, cruelty-free, environmentally friendly food. Shall we?
Jane Land: We’re with you.
Caryn Hartglass: Matthew and Jane, thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Jane Land: Thank you for having us!
Caryn Hartglass: I just want to say try vegan. Try vegan. And then go vegan!
Matthew Glover: Our campaign message for February is going to be “Stay Vegan This February.” We won’t take our foot off the gas after January, that’s for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: All the best to you two.
Matthew Glover: Thanks Caryn. Bye-bye!
Caryn Hartglass: Bye! Let’s take a quick break and I’ll be right back to share some news about food.
Transcribed by Emme Hooks, 3/9/2015