Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

If people wish to not eat meat or to use animal products that is entirely their choice and one which I am sure we all respect. For some time, however, it has been clear that many who make that choice do not have similar respect for the dietary preferences or livelihoods of others. Like other areas of the animal rights movement veganism has become an aggressive, cultish movement.

The dairy industry in particular has recently come in for levels of abuse previously reserved for fox hunters and game shooters. Dairy farmers have been accused of ‘rape, murder and slavery’, attacked on social media and even subject to death threats. Worryingly many of the voices campaigning against dairy farming, although not those making the most extreme claims, are registered charities. It is, apparently, a charitable activity to campaign to destroy the livelihood of family farms and as a logical consequence remove the necessity for dairy cows to even exist.

Underlying this activity are a strange and hugely illogical set of beliefs ostensibly related to animal welfare but actually driven by anger and misanthropy. The anti-dairy movement has as little to do with the welfare of cows as the anti-hunting campaign has little to do with the welfare of foxes. Vegans calling for an end to dairy farming on behalf of cows face the fundamental problem that dairy cows only exist because of that industry. The logical consequence of a successful outcome to their campaign is that there would be no cows, which is surely a problem for people who claim to believe that animals have rights, including presumably the right to exist.

It would be easy to make comparisons, for instance, between the environmental implications of consuming soya grown on clear-felled South American rainforests then shipped half way round the world, with those of drinking milk sourced from a dairy farm operating to high standards in the UK but that would be to miss the point. The animal rights movement is not really driven by concerns about the welfare of animals or the environment, but by a hatred of people.

Causing offence and exaggerated propaganda may fill the social media bubble but it does not convince the vast majority who are sane and rational. Across the animal rights campaigning agenda we must remember that it is that sensible majority, not the nasty minority, who will hold sway.