Celebrities promoting veganism 'damage farmers ’mental health' – The Guardian,

Celebrities promoting veganism 'damage farmers ’mental health' – The Guardian,

President says celebrity attacks on meat industry cause ‘enormous damage’


85096 Joaquin Phoenix during his Oscars speech this month, in which he decried fact that people ’feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby’. Photograph: Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images

The National Farmers’ Union has criticized stars such as (Joaquin Phoenix) who use their celebrity to promote veganism, claiming the growth in meat-free living is fueling a rise in mental health problems among British farmers.

Days after the Joker actor’s Oscars speech attacking the meat industry , the NFU president, Minette Batters, said farmers fearing the imminent loss of their livelihoods and family holdings were in a state of stress and anxiety.

Asked at the union’s annual conference who she thought was driving the view that meat was bad and plants were good, she said: “A lot of people who seem to hit the red carpet at the Bafta awards.

She added: “Celebrities have to be careful [because] there are real-life consequences for others… Joaquin Phoenix, he’s had a really challenging life, and you really feel for him and a lot of the things he was saying, but he has to remember there are people at the end of this, there are small family farms and they get hurt too. ”

Phoenix, who has been a vegan since he was three, made a heartfelt plea for tolerance and equality in his acceptance speech for the best actor award at the Oscars, saying no race, gender or species had rights over another.

“I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” he said. “We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby , even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. ”

Veganism continues to grow in popularity in the UK, with supermarkets clearing shelf space for plant-based ready meals, and meat-free dining in restaurants and pubs now commonplace.

Last year, it emerged that vegan meals were the UK’s fastest– growing takeaway option, with burgers made from black beans, sweet potato and quinoa, and vegan “fried chicken” among the dishes challenging doner kebabs and tikka masala.

Other celebrities who have spoken about the health benefits of plant-based diets are Benedict Cumberbatch, Ellie Goulding and Beyoncé, with their support credited with aiding a rise in veganism’s popularity.

Batters said she was not saying “veganism is wrong”, but argued that the debate around animal products had become so binary that meat was being put in the same category as tobacco.

“I remember the interview I did with Evan Davis on PM to talk about the government new food strategy and he said: ‘Is eating meat the new smoking?’ He compared us with the tobacco industry and you think, whoa, just think about all of this.

“It’s very polarized and it’s doing enormous damage to the mental health of livestock farmers,” she said. She called for kindness to be shown to farmers and an understanding that they were “human” too.

“It’s just about instilling this philosophy and being kind and farmers need – we all need – to think that too, our mental health wellbeing in this world of social media, we just need to take a step back sometimes.

She said farmers felt under attack and that they were victims of a celebrity narrative beyond their control; few people understood, she said, that only 4% of farmers in Britain had more than 700 animals and most of the beef, lamb, dairy and pork farmers were small family-based businesses.

She said taking meat out of people’s diets was not the panacea for the climate crisis. “You don’t deal with climate change by taking meat out of your diet [and] go to plant-based, because there is just as much unsustainable plant-based [farming] as there is with meat.”

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