Farmers Weekly, a publication addressing the UK farming community, has discussed vegans and veganism twice so far in these early days of 2019, with one writer appealing to its readers that it’s time for farmers to engage with vegans.
The Farmers Weekly has been published since 1934 and is part of the Farmers Weekly Group, which is owned by Reed Business Information and includes Poultry World and the Farmers Weekly interactive. It has an average circulation of around 50,000. And it would appear that this readership is increasingly aware of, and interested in, the vegan cause.
On 8th January, columnist Neale McQuistin wrote an opinion piece titled “Farmers must keep an open mind on the vegan challenge”. In it, McQuistin says: “Farmers are running a risk of beginning to look like unreasonable people who are unable to move with the times while this situation persists.” And later in the piece reasons that, “I’ve got a feeling that in 30 years’ time we will look back and not be very proud of how our industry has reacted to veganism at the beginning of the 21st century.”
Just two days previously, Catherine Broomfield also contributed an opinion piece on the issue of veganism, titled “Time to engage with the vegan moderates”. Broomfield argues that the extremists are to be ignored, however the farming industry should engage with those which she labels as “moderates.”
“While there is an unreachable cabal of the ill-informed and closed-minded, there also exists a thoughtful, less-vociferous majority who feel genuine unease about aspects of how land and livestock are farmed for food. UK farming has to engage with this moderate majority. Not to doggedly defend the status quo, nor to relentlessly spin a positive message, but to engage honestly and seriously in order to build trust and understanding.”
Broomfield acknowledges that “Farming is already feeling the heat – literally – with regards to climate and metaphorically in terms of society’s changing attitude to diet.” And brings attention to the fact that, “Across all developed economies, people are redefining what is acceptable in terms of what food we eat and how it is produced.”
Interestingly, and encouragingly, the writer tells the farming readership that “Some of what we do could be better, some things need to stop, and the mix of what we grow and rear will need to change simply because, like it or not, the market – or the planet – will dictate it.”
Most encouraging is the following line from her piece: “It is undeniable, for example, that people and planet would be healthier if less meat was produced and consumed.” Times are changing in 2019, let’s watch this space for the response from the farming community.