Charlie Beaty: Forget Veganuary – it’s time for #Februdairy

Hello February, goodbye “Veganuary” – the whole month dedicated by some to promoting a vegan lifestyle.

Encouraging this drastic change in diet at a time when the UK is at its most limited on fresh produce may not be ideal, but I still take my hat off to anybody who can take it up, let alone maintain it after the month has ended.

You might be surprised to hear me say that, as a mixed farmer, I used to be anti-veganism.

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All I saw was extreme people slating us and promoting skewed facts.

But as with so many things, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s is a small minority giving the majority a bad rep.

Nowadays, despite farming beef and sheep, veganism really doesn’t fuss me.

I disagree with – and will happily debate “facts” that are either incorrect or do not apply to UK practices – but if somebody wants to stop eating meat or dairy for what they consider are legitimate health reasons or because they don’t like the idea of an animal being used for their consumption, who am I to argue?

What I do object to is propaganda based on skewed data (*ahem*, the recent Oatly advert, which sneered at milk drinking), which is extremely damaging. I’ve also realised the importance of us responding with level heads and proven facts.

Environmental impact

One common argument, for example, often deployed against vegan diets is the environmental impact of importing produce consumed by those following a plant-based diet.

I struggle to see the logic in that, though. Vegans don’t live on avocados – they eat wheat, carrots and potatoes and many other crops us farmers grow in the UK.

Neither are they the only ones consuming imported produce, with about 26% of meat consumed in the UK having been imported.

As a population, we consume too much cheap meat – sometimes intensively produced on soy-based diets.

The challenge is to make locally produced and grass-fed meat more available and affordable.

But 3% of the population following a vegan diet isn’t going to have a detrimental effect on most UK farmers and, hopefully, most of the other 97% understand how eating meat has many benefits – to our health and the environment.

Anyway, Happy #Februdairy!