Lord Deben, who was the environment minister from 1993 to 1997 and is current chairman of the Climate Change Committee, has accused some vegans of “muddying” the debate by calling for plant-based diets. The UK’s top adviser on tackling global warming added that they issue the call as they care about animal welfare, but that it wasn’t linked to climate change.
He said: “They do it because they have other views about animals, but they have to accept that it is not about climate change.”
He added that vegans must be prevented from utilising climate change debates to promote a plant-based lifestyle, and said that some vegans were wrong to argue that eating meat was not environmentally friendly.
Lord Deben said “What I do not want to see is people muddy the climate change issue for some other agenda.
“Vegans have got to fight their case on their own grounds.”
Lord Deben has said that farmed animals play a crucial in tackling climate change.
He said: “It is just not true that we should have a world in which there are no farm animals.
“They are essential for the mixed farming system, which is the way to return the vitality of the soil.”
His comments come while the Government comes under fire for not doing enough to tackle emissions from agriculture.
Currently, agriculture accounts for around 10 per cent of the UK’s territorial greenhouse gas emissions – the majority of which comes from methane produced by livestock.
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In November, at the East of England Farming Conference, he reiterated this thought, and also said that opting for a vegan diet was “not the answer to climate change”.
“Veganism is not the answer to climate change.
“Indeed, it is an opponent of solving climate change, because unless we have animals, we cannot have the kind of mixed farming which ought to be a very significant part of the farming community.
He added that vegans often weighed in on the debate because of their love for animals.
He said: “We therefore have to stop the vegans taking over the climate change agenda for purposes which are not about climate change, but are about a kind of religious desire to stop the husbandry of animals.”
According to a recent study by scientists at the University of Illinois, globally, meat is responsible for around twice the carbon footprint of plant-based foods
Veganism has been increasingly popular in recent years, due to the growing availability of meat alternatives, and growing environmental awareness.
Also, Veganuary, a non-profit organisation that encourages people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January, was launched in 2014.
Since its launch, participation has more than doubled year on year with 400,000 people signing up to the 2020 campaign.