Regenuary is the sustainable eating movement to rival Veganuary – but what is it?

Sarah Barratt
·3-min read
Photo credit: JW LTD - Getty Images
Photo credit: JW LTD - Getty Images

From Country Living

Over a quarter of a million people are taking part in this year’s Veganuary – the campaign encouraging participants to try veganism for the 31 days of January. But a new movement called 'Regenuary' is urging conscientious consumers to consider a different approach to eco-friendly eating…

What is Regenuary?

Regenuary is a sustainable eating movement gathering momentum on social media, urging consumers to opt for food produced according to ‘regenerative’ farming methods for the month of January. You can still eat meat but everything you do eat must meet certain criteria, including:

  • all produce must have been farmed and produced using regenerative agriculture

  • produce must be seasonal

  • everything you buy should have been grown locally

  • nothing should be imported

How did Regenuary start?

Last year, The Ethical Butcher – an online retailer specialising in pasture-fed meat – coined the idea in a Facebook post. It read: “Imagine if Veganuary could be Regenuary – where all foods eaten for the month of January are not imported, are local, seasonal and the animals are farmed using regenerative agriculture.” The post reached over a million people.

How does regenerative agriculture work?

It’s an agricultural system designed to improve biodiversity and restore soil health, as healthy soil stores carbon and helps mitigate flooding. This is achieved through a combination of techniques including minimising soil disturbance and ensuring earth is covered up with living roots – protecting it from wind and water erosion. Grazing animals play an important role; trampling roots and providing quality organic matter to nourish the soil.

Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

Is Regenuary more eco-friendly than Veganuary?

It’s complicated. According to the UN, meat and dairy accounts for 14.5% of all man made greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, a 2016 report stated that if we all ate predominantly plant-based diets, the world’s food-related emissions could be reduced by two-thirds. So, there’s no denying we need to cut down on our consumption of animal products.

However, proponents of regenerative farming argue that grazing livestock has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Pasture-fed animals require no imported grain – and the land they graze on locks away carbon, as plants absorb CO2 from the air, fixing it into the soil.

Where can you buy regenerative produce?

Regenerative agriculture is still in its infancy in the UK, meaning it can be tricky to source food farmed this way. But small-scale procurers are leading the charge. For meat, The Ethical Butcher offers British beef, lamb, pork and chicken farmed according to regenerative methods. Alternatively, Knepp offers a ‘wild’ range of beef and venison. For a comprehensive list of regenerative meat producers, visit the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.

It’s not just meat; Cheyney’s Pastured Poultry offer golden yolked eggs from pasture-raised hens, while Taw River Dairy produce creamy Jersey milk from a herd grazed on lush Devon pastures. In Northamptonshire, Farrington Oils is a carbon neutral and plastic free ‘seed to bottle’ oil producer offering British alternatives to olive oil. East Sussex residents can visit Fanfield Farm – a community initiative working to restore local soils. For wine, look to Tillingham – a mixed farm comprised of vineyard, woodland and livestock.

Is meat and dairy from a regenerative farm more expensive?

While a whole bird from the supermarket can cost as little as £3, a soy-free chicken from the Ethical Butcher starts at around £15. This is because animals farmed using regenerative methods grow more slowly and require more space than their intensively farmed counterparts, meaning the cost of keeping them is higher. But, if we eat meat once or twice a week, instead of everyday, the cost should even out. Quality meat is a luxury, but less costly cuts like skirt, shin and brisket offer a cheaper everyday alternative – and ensure no part of the animal is wasted.

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