Facebook Group “Duluth Does Veganuary!” Challenges Locals To Try Plant-Based Diets

DULUTH, Minn. — A Facebook group called “Duluth Does Veganuary!” is challenging Northlanders to try giving up meat and dairy for the month of January.

The group, now in its second year, has more than 650 members and encourages everyone to try going vegan for the full month, but also helps motivate those who are curious about the diet, and maybe want to test it out for a day or a week.

Bonnie Ambrosi, the founder of the local movement, works at one of the Whole Foods Co-op locations in Duluth, and pitched the idea of creating the group to the store’s marketing team. The Co-op helps manage the Facebook group, and promotes the vegan foods in its stores for the month of January.

“Duluth Does Veganuary!’ is actually the local riff on a global movement,” Ambrosi said. “Veganuary started in 2014 in the U.K., and since then over a million people in 192 countries have joined.”

Bonnie says there are a few reasons some people choose to go vegan.

It may be for their health.

“Eating mostly plants reduces your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease,” she emphasized.

Other reasons include animal welfare and fighting climate change.

“I was very moved a couple years ago by a book…called “We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast” and it’s all about how the way we eat every day is affecting the climate, and [the author] says just by changing the way we eat, that’s not going to be enough to save the planet,” Bonnie explained. “But we can’t save the planet without changing how we eat.”

Of the hundreds of people in this online group, many post their daily meals and share recipes.

Hillary Heinz, the marketing manager at the Co-op, says that it’s a great source of inspiration, even if you want to just reduce your intake of meat, and not go cold turkey on it.

“People kind of associate these kinds of diets as people that are really kind of like, snooty about it or really ridged, and this group is anything but, they’re just super supportive wherever you are on your journey, you don’t have to be 100% vegan,” Hillary explained. “You can just be interested, whether it’s for the sake of the environment, or animal welfare, or your personal health, just interested in eating less meat.”

These days, trying a plant-based diet can be easier than ever, as vegan versions of meat are growing on both a national scale and locally as well, with companies such as Superior Small Batch in grocery stores around the Northland.

“There is like a plethora of fun, kind of vegan-focused products out these days,” Hillary said.

Eating a more plant-based diet doesn’t have to be more expensive. Sometimes your grocery bill may actually be cheaper.

Bonnie says she sees it as an investment.

“We spend money on our health one way or the other,” she explained. “You can spend it on good plant-based food, or you can spend it on medicine and visits to the doctor, right? So you don’t really have a choice!”

She hopes that by creating communities like the Facebook group, more people will recognize the connection between what’s on their plate, and what’s happening in the world.

“It’s powerful and it’s doable,” Bonnie said. “Anyone can do this. Yes, habits can be hard to change, but it’s not that hard and especially when you have a great community to help you…anyone can do this.”

If you do join the “Duluth Does Veganuary” Facebook page and post on it, you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card to the Whole Foods Co-op.



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