The Go Vegan World poster campaign is impressive, if only because it highlights a half-truth. The dairy industry does kill most male cattle at birth, but the picture of a happy calf is disingenuous: if we were all vegan, there would be no farm animals or pets at all. I have beef cattle and sheep on a 20-acre holding and wondered how things would be without them. So I went vegan for Lent, to see how I felt and if I changed my mind about livestock farming.
The new food was expensive and I had to shop at supermarkets miles away for processed soya bean products that had come halfway round the world. The diet was dull but manageable. Fruit was a quandary. I store my own apples, but they are pollinated by commercial bees.
I looked at our cows and sheep and wondered if I was cruel. Ours don't leave their mothers until suckling is over. They all live outside. When the time comes, I wish they could be killed on-farm. I have more sympathy with the arguments against large dairy operations, but hens can't stop laying eggs. Half of our bee pollinators are commercial hives and not eating honey would destroy fruit production. My Lenten experiment reminded me we must treat animals with respect, not as sentient commodities. We must support groups such as Compassion in World Farming and oppose industrialised cattle units. Old-fashioned posters have worked, in part.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, firstname.lastname@example.org