Veganuary campaign founder Matthew Glover has said ‘mud-slinging’ between farmers and vegans did little to help either side and suggested the two may have more in common than they realise.
Mr Glover, originally a double-glazing salesman in West Yorkshire, co-founded the movement, which sees people switch to a vegan diet for the month of January, in 2014.
Speaking at a British Guild of Agricultural Journalists event, he said: “We are all concerned about climate change and protecting the natural world. We all disagree with unnecessary suffering to animals, and want people to live longer healthier lives.
"But there does seem to be an us and them developing at times between vegans and the farming community, and also between vegans and the general public at large.”
He also condemned the actions of ‘militant’ vegans who ‘sometimes go too far’.
Mr Glover, whose family were involved in meat trading for many years, used the example of protesters who descended on restaurants to ‘shame’ people publicly for eating meat.
“That creates tension, I do not agree with those tactics,” he added.
Veganuary, which attracts large donations from individuals and organisations all over the world, started with 3,300 participants and has roughly doubled every year since.
Large brands and retailers have piggy-backed on the movement and it now has approximately 250,000 participants.
The target for 2020 is to see 350,000 take up the challenge.
According to a survey carried out a week after the month-long event, about 50 per cent of participants said they continued to follow the plant-based diet.
Mr Glover said that number drops off further when a second survey is carried out six months later.
One guild member questioned the thought process behind running a plant based campaign in January - one of the months where the UK produces the least amount of home grown vegetables.
Mr Glover said he had been following a vegan diet for 22 years, but added he has eaten meat for ‘most’ of his life. His children also eat meat. He feeds his pet Labrador vegan dogfood.
He told journalists: "We love farmers. We need farmers. Vegans and farmers can be allies. We can work together to transform the food system."