ANOTHER year, another raft of resolutions. While we’re used to the old favourite aspirations, of getting fitter, drinking less and eating more healthily, there’s a new lifestyle choice which is gaining in popularity.

Veganuary is a UK nonprofit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January as a way to promote and educate about a vegan lifestyle. Since the event began in 2014 participation has more than doubled each year.

Of course, where there’s momentum there’s money to be made. Forget lentil loaf and bean curd curry. The quarter of a million Britons set to ditch animal products for this month are unlikely to be stuck for options.

On the first working day of 2020 a clutch of food retailers started selling new meat-free options, including KFC, which launched its first vegan burger nationwide. Greggs, the UK’s largest bakery chain, unveiled a meat-free version of its popular steak bake.

Other outlets followed suit with new meat-substitute items on their menus – 2020 welcomes the first McDonald’s vegan meal and the launch of the meatless marinara at Subway – while supermarkets including Aldi and M&S ramped up their takeaway vegan efforts with everything from fishless sandwiches to fake smoked chicken wraps.

Wagamama has gone one better with a vegan “tuna” made from watermelon fruit, although it will set you back £12.95. The vegan fish is made with dehydrated watermelon which is then sliced, seared and served hot, which apparently gives it the look and texture of tuna sashimi. Very clever … except the flavour remains like that of watermelon rather than fish.

According to a recent study from Waitrose, one in eight Britons is now vegetarian or vegan, with food choices assuming an increasingly important role in countering the climate crisis.

But it seems the animals also have a role to play in saving the planet. Orkney’s sheep could be key to greener, more climate-friendly livestock farming. The northernmost Orkney island, North Ronaldsay, is home to 2000 sheep (and a mere 50 humans). Since the 19th century, when islanders built a wall to confine the flock to the shoreline, the sheep have survived solely on seaweed. Research has found that this special diet makes for a healthier carbon hoof-print.

Studies from the US, New Zealand and Australia have shown that livestock that have seaweed in their diets belch far less methane than animals fed on grass or general feed. And since methane is a greenhouse gas that has a warming effect almost 30 times as powerful as that of carbon dioxide, the solely seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay sheep could provide an answer to greener farming.

Now scientist David Beattie, of the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, is undertaking a three-year study into how seaweed could be introduced into general livestock feed.

In a year, a cow produces about the same greenhouse effect as a car that burns 1000 litres of petrol. It has also been found that CO2 production is reduced and methane emissions lowered when seaweed is introduced into feed. Creating nutritious seaweed fodder for ordinary livestock would also mean the sourcing of more animal feed locally and sustainably. All thanks to the belching of 2000 sheep.

Happy ewe year!