Skip to content

Tim Bonner: Fightback against vegan activists

For a couple of years now the Alliance has been campaigning against virtue signalling bans on meat and dairy products by councils and universities. Whilst the justification is that such moves are tackling climate change, the fact that local, sustainably produced meat products are often replaced with intensively grown, imported fruit and vegetables suggests that they are simply an attack on livestock farming masquerading as action on global warming.

In the last two weeks, however, animal rights activists have discovered that two can play at that game after Cornwall County Council voted in favour of a landmark motion which marks the beginning of a fightback against the promotion of anti-livestock farming sentiment. The motion, backed by the Countryside Alliance, will ensure the council’s commitment to local farmers through proactively sourcing local, seasonal produce, including meat and dairy, at council events, while encouraging residents to shop locally and urging them to take advantage of home-grown, affordable, nutritious food, irrespective of dietary preference. Interestingly, the move was passed with almost no opposition and councillors of all parties recognised the “huge contribution made by [our] local farmers to the Cornish economy and its rural communities”.

This week a councillor at another unitary authority, North Northamptonshire, has tabled a similar Alliance-backed motion which will “encourage people to shop locally, taking advantage of home-grown, affordable and nutritious food, both plant and meat based, thus reducing the ‘food miles’ on our plates”.

The politics of this are particularly interesting in the run up to a General Election and given the - sometimes contrasting - positions taken by the leadership of some parties and their local activists and councillors. Sir Keir Starmer has stated that the countryside runs through his DNA, but will Labour councillors back motions that support local food production, including livestock farming? Likewise, there are many Liberal Democrat MPs who are keen to champion local farmers, but the highest profile ban on meat and dairy was brought in by the ruling Liberal Democrat and Green coalition on Oxfordshire County Council.

All parties need to understand that supporting the countryside is good politics and that taking an extreme position on meat eating and livestock farming has the potential to alienate a significant part of the electorate. People are, quite rightly, worried about global warming and biodiversity decline, but they can see through the blatant bandwagon jumping of groups like ‘Animal Rising’ who seek to use those issues to justify bans on the use of any animals for any purpose. The way forward is to promote local, sustainably-produced food whether it is animal or vegetable, and reject those who promote the extreme ideology of compulsory veganism.

Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.

  • life Protect our way of life
  • news Access our latest news
  • insurance Benefit from insurance cover
  • magazine Receive our magazine