Go Vegan and save the world

A couple of different ways this item was covered in the press.

The Daily Telegraph report…

Go vegan to help climate, says Government

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 30/05/2007

Adopting a vegan diet dramatically reduces one person’s impact on the environment

A leaked email to a vegetarian campaign group from an Environment Agency official expresses sympathy with the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, which bans dairy products and fish.

The agency also says the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is considering recommending eating less meat as one of the “key environmental behaviour changes” needed to save the planet.

It says that this change would have to be introduced “gently” because of “the risk of alienating the public”.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, has raised the issue that farm animals are blamed for producing large amounts of the powerful greenhouse gas, methane, and told farmers they need to do something about it but the agency’s response appears to go further than official advice.

It has provoked an immediate response from the National Farmers’ Union, which said the suggestion was “simplistic” and “a cause of concern”.

The agency’s official was responding to an email from the vegan group Viva, which argues that it is more efficient to use land to grow crops for direct consumption by humans rather than feeding them to dairy cows or livestock raised for meat.

The campaign group entered a comment on the Environment Agency’s website saying: “Adopting a vegan diet reduces one person’s impact on the environment even more than giving up their car or forgoing several plane trips a year! Why aren’t you promoting this message as part of your [World Environment Day] campaign?”

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www.ThisisLondon.co.uk (The Evening Standard) with a more tabloid version and a slightly inaccurate headline:

The secret plans to turn us all vegetarian

Secret plans to encourage the nation to give up eating meat are being examined by the Government.

A leaked e-mail expresses sympathy for the environmental benefits of a mass switch to a vegan diet – a strict form of vegetarianism which bans milk, dairy products and fish.

The change would need to be done “gently” because of a “risk of alienating the public”, according to the document.

The extreme policy is being examined on the basis it could make a major contribution to slowing climate change.

Farm animals are blamed for producing huge amounts of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide.

However, the National Farmers’ Union has ridiculed the idea as “simplistic”.

The e-mail, sent to a vegetarian campaign group, comes from an official at the Environment Agency, a Government advisory body.

It states: “The potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant.”

However, it does recognise that it would be very difficult to win public support for such a move.

Consequently, it says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is looking to encourage a gradual change that would be more palatable to the general public.

The e-mail states: “It will be a case of introducing this gently as there is a risk of alienating the public majority.”

The official goes on to say it is “unlikely” that the Environment Agency would ever suggest adopting a fully vegan lifestyle.

But the e-mail added: “Certainly encouraging people to examine their consumption of animal protein could be a key message.”

The proposals are the latest in a raft of measures being promoted as helping to slow climate change.

Others include putting windmills on rooftops, driving electric cars and banning plastic bags.

The e-mail was sent to the campaigning vegetarian organisation Viva, which argues that it is more efficient to use land to grow crops for humans, rather than feeding them to farm animals and dairy cows.

Viva director Juliet Gellatley said: “I think it is extraordinary that a Government agency thinks becoming a vegetarian or vegan could have such a positive impact for the environment yet it is not prepared to stand up and argue the case.

“There is a growing awareness that our diet directly affects the world around us – and that vegetarians and vegans contribute far less to the destruction of the environment. For our planet’s sake there is an urgent need to move away from a meat and dairy-obsessed Western diet.”

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In the meantime – slightly related and a plug for the upcoming Vegan Festival in Bristol: Tony at FoodsForLife posted a press release:

Over 25 Vegan Organisations Form Super Team to Turn Everyone Into Vegetarians

As over 25 vegan organisations and the vegan cream of the UK vegetarian manufacturers gang up for a major offensive on the UK’s unsustainable eating habits events in Bristol seem to be building up to the battle of the little big horn. This could be a turning point for world veganism.

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