'We are not anti-farmer - it's about animal rights'
Veganism is on the rise in Ireland but farm leaders are concerned about the 'misinformation' they claim is being spread by some activists
Veganism is the practice of not eating meat or consuming animal-based products. While Bord Bia estimates that only 2pc of the 8pc non-meat eaters in Ireland follow a vegan diet, veganism has become a contentious issue in the past year, partly due to the provocative 'Go Vegan World' advertising campaign.
Farm leaders were unimpressed by the campaign which portrayed conventional farming as inhumane. However, most vegans would maintain that they are not anti-farmer.
Farmer's son Declan Bowens is a vegan who runs the Back into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan, Co Meath. He told the Farming Independent that he's not anti-farmer, he just doesn't agree with the lives "animals are forced to live" on Irish farms.
"I'm not against farmers. My nephew is a drystock farmer and although I don't agree with his practices, we still get on. It's about the treatment of animals and their lifestyle. Bulls are castrated and cows are constantly made pregnant.
"In my opinion, it's cruel and very traumatic for the animals," he said.
"In this day and age when there's so much more potential for soya to be grown in Ireland, there's no excuse and the Government should give more supports." Westmeath sheep farmer and Farming Independent columnist John Fagan thinks the suggestion that Irish farmers are cruel to their animals is "abhorrent" and that farm organisations need to "step up to the plate" to tackle false messages that are being spread about Irish farming.
"I've no problem with people being vegan. It's their own option. Like everything in life it probably has its good points and bad ones but saying that Irish farmers are cruel to animals is abhorrent to me. It's so inaccurate and ridiculous.
"Farm organisations need to stand up and be advocates for our industry. Maybe we could organise fundraisers for animal rights organisations."