Farmers’ organisation slams vegan campaign

The many farmers across Northern Ireland who have criticised an “anti-farming campaign” being run by Go Vegan World have a sympathiser in Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) President, Barclay Bell.

Commenting on the issue, Bell said that he believes the campaign is dishonest in its message and seeks to mislead people. In addition, he questioned how a product made from plants can be described fairly as ‘milk’.

“This campaign seeks to denigrate farmers to advance the cause of a tiny minority opposed to livestock farming. This is a small special-interest group that seeks publicity.

“Less than 1% of the UK population are vegan – but those supporting this lifestyle choice are well-funded and adept at attracting media attention,” Bell said.

Bell contrasted this small percentage of the overall population with the record attendance at the Balmoral Show, seeing this as a ‘celebration of farming’.

Those that attended represented almost 7% of the Northern Ireland population. They enjoyed a day out celebrating all that is best in local agriculture.

“This is also the picture for our Open Farm weekend in June, so despite spending a lot on big posters and courting media attention I think the Go Vegan World will change few hearts and minds here or elsewhere in the UK,” Bell stated.

While the UFU has said it would never criticise those who have adopted a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, Bell says it is unacceptable to attempt to gain new recruits by attacking farming.

“This time the campaign is about dairy farming, but past campaigns and their publicity have focused on other aspects of livestock farming.

This is one-sided and unfair. Farmers supply the needs of the 99% of the population happy to eat eggs, meat and dairy products.

“It is unfair to denigrate farming families who do a great job producing affordable food on high-welfare, environmentally-friendly livestock farms across Northern Ireland,” Bell added.

With all the emphasis currently placed on the need for transparency and honesty in retailing and advertising, the UFU is seeking an answer from retailers as to how products like soya and almond blends can be described as milk.

Milk is defined as a product secreted by female mammals. That cannot include plant extracts. Such a misleading approach is unfair to farmers and consumers, and I believe it needs to be challenged, as it has been in the United States.

The UFU President concluded by declaring that he did not believe consumers would be won over by ‘misleading and unfair campaigns‘.