Veganuary: farmer fights back

Responsible for climate change? Perhaps not

The farming community is under attack by vegans and Extinction Rebellion for what meat eating is supposedly doing to the planet as well as the health of the population. Organisers of “Veganuary” (giving up meat products in January) say that switching to a vegan diet is good for animals (presumably because they will not have to be killed) and also for the planet.

In fact, the grass that the animals eat soaks up carbon and, because of this constant “cropping”, keeps  growing. If it is left to simply wither and die, it will play no part in the reduction of carbon dioxide. Methane is a short-lived gas, which survives less than ten years.

The feed needs of 90% of cattle and sheep in the UK are met by grass and conserved grasses such as hay and silage. Since the 1970s cattle and sheep numbers have reduced by a huge amount so at present cattle and sheep in the UK are contributing nothing to the climate issue.

We have been told to plant more trees, but saplings take years to grow into trees and in that time they can die from diseases such as Dutch elm disease and ash dieback. In the event of severe summer drought there can be, as is currently being seen in Australia, uncontrollable bush fires causing enormous destruction. Grass fires, on the other hand, are far easier to bring under control. Unlike trees, grass only takes weeks to start growing and soaking up carbon and will very quickly recover from extreme weather such as drought and hard frost.

In the past year, 98% of UK households brought red meat and not eating meat can leave people short of essential nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, vitamin B12 and iron.

Alyse Parker, a long time vegan from Connecticut, with 204k followers on Instagram, uploaded a video on YouTube in December, to explain she had spent the last 30 days following a carnivore diet, eating only meat, fish and eggs, and now says how much it improved her physical and mental health.

To stop eating meat for sentimental reasons is one thing,  but to stop in order to save the  planet or for health reasons is debatable.

In recent weeks there have been protests by German, Dutch, Irish and French farmers for their voice to be heard in the debate that farming is supposedly having on the climate.

UK farmers are going to stage rallies to engage with the public to explain why they should not be tarred with the same brush as Brazilian and US livestock farms. The rallies are to be organised on a date to be set in the next three months.

Image Credits: Rye News library .


  1. Humans are omnivores. To pretend otherwise is to deny biology. This is a welcome article, and I hope the first of a series to fight back against misinformation. I cannot be alone in finding the kowtowing required of the majority in favour of hysterical ill-informed minorities – irksome.

  2. According to Farming Online (Established in 1995 and providing free & premium farming news, weather forecasts, up to the minute prices, smartphone applications and advertising solutions for the UK, Europe and Australia) at the end of January 2018, 91% of UK households were still buying red meat. There must have been a mass conversion of vegetarians and vegans to not just meat, but specifically red meat, in the last year in order to reach the figure of 98% of households who bought (or brought?) red meat claimed in this story!
    I would like to point out that I do eat red meat.

  3. I’m involved with Extinction Rebellion in Rye, and work for a charity combating climate change. I do eat meat, but perhaps about once a week. I support continuing to produce meat from grass-fed livestock on permanent pasture without input of fertiliser and without feeding them grains or soya that could have been eaten by humans. I think that livestock raised this way can be an important part of the ecosystem and help avoid importing food from far flung countries.

  4. I am actually reading this in Australia where, as the author mentioned, there have been many fires. Can I emphasise that the fires here have spread because of severe drought and because most of the trees are eucalypts which being gum trees, by nature burn fiercely. English trees conversely have mostly water retentive leaves and as such are not as flammable. Although I appreciate the argument, PLEASE don’t stop planting trees in favour of grass as although they may take years to grow, they are more important for biodiversity than acres and acres of grasslands. PS I also eat meat but in moderation!

  5. I am only an occassional meat eater but am supportive of grass feed livestock. The chances are it is healthy and has had less hormones and other undesirable products used on it.

    6.2m hectares of the UK (2018) is down as permanent pasture (pasture for 5 yrs +). Although some of this could be used for arable crops much of it could not and therefore this is a good way of using the land to feed humans. Also, grassland holds far more carbon than arable land. As grass grows alot of the biomass is in underground roots. This is held in the soil until the land is ploughed. It is interesting to note that atmospheric carbon started to grow at about the same time that humans developed agriculture.

    The problem is with intensively reared livestock which are fed on processed food. Cattle fed processed food emit more methane; and more land is in arable production to produce the feed resulting in depleted carbon in the soil.

    The chances are that the meat you have in a sandwich or a processed meat product will be from intensively reared livestock. So if you want to be carbon friendly avoid processed meat products and enjoy better quality meat from grass fed animals (hopefully from Romney Marsh), albeit not every day.

  6. I think a middle ground approach is the way forward – Animals raised in pastures, fewer chemicals, less antibiotics, high standards of welfare avoiding imported soy feed from deforested areas.
    Personally I have not eaten meat for about 40 years for all the reasons I was aware of at the time including animal welfare, methane emissions and deforestation of rain-forests for beef herds.
    I am involved with extinction rebellion with cutting back on meat eating and for some veganism one of a range of many measures we need take to address our climate emergency.
    Ideally if eating meat it should be eaten less – focusing on eating locally produced, where possible organically produced to high welfare standards with animals having plenty of access to pastures.

  7. Three cheers for Farmer Leeds-George, and indeed every farmer in the UK .

    Arguably the hardest working
    folk in the land , from whom we
    all benefit throughout the year.

    What sweeter sound of spring than the bleating of a newborn lamb ?


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