I was astonished to read recently, on one of the farming Facebook groups I’m a member of, about a farming lady considering firing a personal trainer who had helped her lose over 2.5 stone because said personal trainer is a vegan!
The client was involved with livestock farming and she and the PT had had a few discussions about veganism and appeared to have agreed to disagree. The PT certainly didn’t seem to be ramming her views down anybody’s throat.
Some people in the Facebook group were actively encouraging this lady to get rid of the PT ASAP! At first, I didn’t really know what to say! Surely firing someone because of their views is discriminatory, not to mention unfair? And what about the argument (which always reminds me of RHET past Chairman George Lawrie who, quite rightly, repeats it often), that many Scottish farmers (tatties, veg, soft fruits, cereals etc.) are in the business of feeding vegans! If they stopped eating we’d have fewer customers!
I don’t often get involved in these online debates, but when someone suggested that the client tell the PT that effectively the arable farmers growing vegan products were part of the problem, I knew I had to get involved.
The commenter had said, in an effort to explain to the vegan PT that veganism has an impact too, had said: “Tell her that bees do very badly on arable ground”. That’s when I knew I couldn’t keep quiet.
Here’s what I said:
I don’t think that comment helps the farming cause at all. How helpful/supportive is it when one farming sector starts to bash another? Not at all! For example, “Bees do very badly on arable land” is totally untrue - we are a 100% arable farm and one of the biggest honey companies in Scotland has a huge number of hives on our land because they love the diversity of plant life and their bees totally thrive - and their honey tastes amazing.
Likewise, we manage to farm in harmony with deer and hares.
I don’t wish to be a vegan but the choice is an individual one. Meat eaters and vegans, and everyone in between, ALL support UK farming in what they eat, they just support different sectors. Our farm ultimately provides bread, biscuits, rapeseed oil, beans, potatoes, whisky and more - all vegan. So I think we are very short-sighted if we simply dismiss all vegans. By all means, tell them the positives about all aspects of farming but bashing arable farms isn’t going to achieve anything other than division within our own industry.
What do you think? What else could I have said? Or should I have kept quiet? I stopped at just the one comment (which had been written in a rush while brushing my teeth) because, let’s face it, few of us have time to get involved in these things. But I’m glad I said something. If, as farmers, or rural people, we can’t all stick together, there’s no hope! So, whatever you do, please support each other.