The Vegan Wars

The Vegan Wars

You've heard of militant religious and political groups – but have you heard of militant vegans?

Australians  are  the  second  biggest  meat  eaters  in  the  world,  the  biggest  exporters  of  red  meat,  and  our  dairy  industry  is  worth  $13.7  billion… but  we  are  also  the  third  fastest  growing  vegan  market.  


In  the  UK  a  dramatic  rise  in  veganism  has  led  to  clashes  between  those  who  want  all  animal  products  banned  and  the  livestock  farmers  whose  way  of  life  is  under  threat...and  it's  getting  nasty. 


In a timely and thought-provoking documentary, Dateline reporter Dean Cornish meets the British farmer who's been called a -rapist and a murderer' – and received kidnap threats against his two young children – and the Australian leader of the vegan activists kicking up a storm in the UK.


Diet and health expert, Michael Mosely also offers his unique perspective as Dateline explores the innovators looking at meat alternatives from edible insects to lab-grown meat.


'I  think  there's  no  doubt  that  being  vegan  or  vegetarian  is  a  more  ethical  option,  in  the  sense  that  it's  very  hard  to  justify  eating  other  animals," explains Mosely.  'Whether I will ever become vegan is another matter."


By  2050, it's estimated that  there will be  9.7  billion  people[iii] – how  does  the  world  provide  protein  for  this  many  without  decimating  the  environment?


Australian born Joey Armstrong is an animal liberation activist and social media personality who has made it his life's work to abolish the meat and dairy trade. He believes that farmers are -playing god' with the lives of animals and that it's consumers who are ultimately responsible. 


'Animals are not willing participants in any of this", explains Armstrong. 'The farmers are determining when they will die.  They  are  being  chopped  up  into  pieces  and  served  to  us  as  consumers.  What  I  want  consumers  to  understand  is  that  they  are  the  most  key  player  in  all  of  this.  Without their money, these industries do not exist,".


In the UK, Dateline meets third generation dairy farmer, Jonny Crickmore, who believes that farmers are the lifeblood of the UK.


When Jonny posted a photo of a mother cow and her triplet calves on social media, he and his young family became the victims of abuse from -militant vegans' who accused them of rape, murder and slavery.


Patrick Hutchinson, CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council, says it's easy for vegans like Joey Armstrong to ignore the benefits of an $18 billion industry[iv].


'He doesn't have to care about anybody but himself. He  doesn't  care  about  working  families,  he  doesn't  care  about  working  Australians,  he  doesn't  care  about  anybody  else  but  himself  and  the  outcome  that  he's  looking  for, period."


More than 56 billion farm animals are slaughtered globally each year[v], and that number is expected to rise as the human population booms. Animal agriculture is responsible for roughly 18% of greenhouse gas emissions[vi] and 80% of the world's deforestation[vii]


The UN wants the world to eat less meat and dairy to help ease both food shortages and climate change.


Dateline looks at what solutions are available including lab-grown meat, made from the same cells that make the muscles of animals, and edible insects.


With the rise of veganism, the future of the meat and dairy industries are uncertain. Many non-western countries already include insects and worms in their diets – are Australian's ready to swap their steaks for protein-packed worm cake?


Watch the full report – The Vegan Wars on Dateline, Tuesday 29 May at 9.30pm on SBS. The program is available after broadcast anytime, on your favourite device via SBS On Demand.

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