From the editor: Come on vegans, isn't it about time we had a rational debate?


By Olivia Midgley


Farming is under attack this week. And while we are often in the firing line of various campaign groups, recent activity has taken things to a new level.


The latest campaign, ‘dairy is scary’, based on an opinion piece published by the Guardian newspaper, is quickly gaining traction and seems to have taken on a more sinister tone. In the opinion article, vegan Chas Newkey- Burden took aim at the dairy industry, calling it ‘the most dark and wicked part of all farming’.


Thankfully, farmers and industry supporters flocked to social media to hit back at the journalist’s claims – many of which were completely false. Responding to such claims is often very hard given the emotive language used by protesters – and becoming involved in debate can be a long and often frustrating process, especially when you have a business to run and stock to look after.


But they say you can’t reason with the unreasonable. And, as the attack on Justin Birch’s farm – believed to be organised by vegan supporters in response to the media frenzy which ensued after calves were pictured housed in hutches on a Dorset dairy farm – showed, these people are prepared to go to great lengths, even breaking the law for their cause.


A cafe owner who has banned cow’s milk because it is ‘unethical’ told us the vegan movement was not against farmers per se and ‘it is nothing personal’. But attacks on farmers like Mr Birch are personal and, ironically, are endangering the lives of the animals the protesters claim to care so much about.


Where is the sense in that?


Isn’t it about time we had a rational debate instead of partaking in meaningless spats backed up by nothing but lies and constituting nothing more than scaremongering?


On our Insight pages this week, anti badger cull campaigner Brian May was perhaps the unlikeliest of people to bring together such an esteemed panel of experts on bovine TB.


But, to his credit, he organised a well-balanced event giving each side their say and allowing those present to make up their own minds. Maybe the vegans ought to take a leaf out of Brian May’s book.

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