Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson is standing firm on her call for people to go vegan to tackle climate change, despite a backlash which saw her local council ask her to withdraw the comments.
The long-standing campaigner, who runs a climate justice foundation in her name, said she spoke “from the heart” when she made the remarks two years ago and stands by her call for people to consume less.
The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told the audience at the One Young World summit in The Hague on Saturday that her comments, made at the same summit in Ottawa two years ago, prompted a formal letter from her local council in her native Co Mayo.
Mrs Robinson faced criticism from some in Ireland’s farming community following her comments in 2016.
She said: “I said (in 2016) we all have to do more. We have to be more energy-efficient, we have to recycle, we must think about what we eat, we need to eat less meat, maybe become vegetarian or even vegan. And I got a big cheer.
“But, back in my country, Ireland, this didn’t go down too well and it ended up with the local authority in my county in Ireland, Co Mayo, sending me a formal letter asking me to withdraw those words, which I have not done. And I still say, and I still say.
“And the point is we do have to take a stand and we do have to make our voices heard and if people take action themselves they are much more likely to use their vote and their power to change what government policies are doing.
“Individual action alone won’t get us there even if we try our hardest; we need government policies.”
She told this year’s summit, which is being attended by more than 1,900 young leaders from 196 countries: “Achieving climate justice, I believe, is the space race for your generation.”