No Meat May: meat-free eating finds its place during Covid-19

Veganism and vegetarianism are year-round issues, and more than 1.2 million people in the UK – and up to 75 million in Europe – have already experienced the benefits of a plant-based or meat-free diet. Left to its own devices, it’s likely that word of mouth would steadily encourage more people to follow a plant-based diet. But, creating an event and finding the right ’news hook’ can expedite change. We helped global campaign ‘No Meat May’ to do just that.

No Meat May has been campaigning to turn ‘meatheads’ into vegans – or at least to ditch meat and try more plant-based foods – since 2013. It aims to offer ‘a safe stepping-stone’ through which people can make steady incremental changes over time. When Eden Green PR partnered with the team this year, we were able to give the campaign the boost it needed to secure coverage in national publications such as Metro and The Express, as well as key audience publications including Vegan Food & Living and Plant Based News. We were also able to help the campaign gain the support of vegan influencers such as Place in the Sun presenter, Jasmine Harman.

How did we do this during the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’, when consumers were already faced with so many restrictions on their lifestyle? Understanding the drivers behind the vegan trend was crucial, and as an agency staffed by vegans, we were well aware of the four core reasons why people choose to make this step, including: a reduced environmental impact, a healthier diet, and compassion for animals – all of which are mirrored in the ‘four key reasons’ championed by No Meat May.

With a growing bank of evidence showing that resistance to Covid-19 can be increased with a healthier lifestyle, that three in four emerging infectious diseases stem from animals, and that the environment has been able to repair and rejuvenate as a result of global lockdowns, consumer behaviour may have been unusual, but showed excellent potential for change.

We therefore forged a relationship with Dr Shireen Kassam and Plant Based Health Professionals UK to help the public understand the importance of vegetarianism and veganism – not just during the Covid-19 outbreak, but also in the long-term. By securing thought leadership interviews and global coverage highlighting a call for the public to go vegan to prevent future pandemics, we were able to share this information with a mainstream audience at a time when the meat industry was increasingly under the spotlight due to its relation not only to zoonotic diseases, but also as the centre of many outbreaks of Covid-19.

At the same time, we were conscious that much misinformation was being spread about Covid-19, and that veganism can often be seen as ‘extreme’. We therefore worked hard to help No Meat May share accessible resources, such as easy to follow recipes, cook-a-longs and social media content, to show that excluding meat does not have to be difficult, expensive or drastic – rather it’s a simple change with wide-reaching benefits.

More than 34,000 people signed up to the No Meat May pledge in 2020 (a significant increase on the 10,000 who took part in 2019), and many have since posted on social media to say that they hope to continue their pledge beyond May. We look forward to helping promote the campaign in 2021, in what we hope will be a greener and healthier environment, free of pandemic.