The new year has started out in a very shouty fashion with #Veganuary coming out of the starting blocks hard.
It feels as if our livestock and dairy industries have been taking the brunt of the blame for the destruction of the environment and the cruel and inhumane treatment of the animals in our care. Unless you’ve been living under a stone, it’s hard to get away from the continual barrage of propaganda on radio, TV, online and in the papers.
Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham’s Twitter feed has had regular video blogs of how his journey to becoming vegan is progressing, and it actually feels like you’ve tuned into a crass shopping channel as he shamelessly promotes particular brands and restaurants such as the “Scotch Eggless”.
I’m sure they are very “scrummy”, as Chris says, but with a box of two eggs costing £7 plus another £7.50 postage and packing, they are also very expensive.
It’s tough when up you’re against the ropes not to come out swinging, especially when there are so many inaccuracies banded about. I’m very proud of the our industry and the brilliant representation that many of our hardworking folk have
The majority have not engaged in mud-slinging but have defended their positions with hard facts on production systems, methane emissions, carbon sequestration and animal welfare standards. They have also questioned the destruction of the rainforest for palm oil production, which the vegan diet relies on to replace animal fats, along with the planting of large monoculture almond orchards to keep up with the demand for plant-based
Pictures of family dinners have been uploaded onto Twitter with some shocking calculations on the food miles the meal has clocked up and the environmental impact. These are real issues in-comparison to Mr Packham’s plugs for astronomically-priced Eggless.
It may feel like we are swimming against the tide right now, but for me this is a massive opportunity for good. We’re discussing our industry and that’s great as we have lots of brilliant stories behind our food.
Scotland is a world leader in welfare standards and sustainable production. That’s not to say we can’t do more. Unfortunately we’re all being painted by a broad brush by vegan extremists and being condemned for bad practice in other parts of the world which bear no resemblance to Scotland. It’s time to stand up and be counted and get behind the Scotch lamb, beef and pork brands.
Simple clear messages and hard facts need to be distributed to the membership of Quality Meat Scotland so we can defend ourselves accurately and go on to promote and share them widely with larger audiences.
It’s a different slant on knowledge transfer, but farmers need to develop better PR skills to become more media savvy.
None of us like being told what to do and shoppers are no different.