In the wake of Leo Varadkar’s announcement that he is reducing red animal flesh in recognition of the impact of diet on health and climate change, there has been outrage from farmers and those who represent them. Among them, Danny Healy Rae accused Leo Varadkar of ‘hurting’ farmers and he accused vegans and those who shun animal flesh of being lazy and weak.

The motivation for going vegan is not human health or climate change: the benefits of a plant diet to these two issues are ancillary to the moral goal of rapid and complete abolition of all animal use that characterizes veganism.

But even if climate change were the only consideration, then swapping one species of animal food for another, as Mr Varadkar suggests, shows a gross underestimation of the seriousness of the issue and a misunderstanding of the science of climate change and what is required of us to avoid the disaster of global warming, deforestation, and land and water pollution that are directly attributable to animal agriculture.

In this interview Sandra Higgins discusses the bottom up changes that we can make as individuals by living as vegans in a way that is fair to all of life, as well as the top down changes at Government level that are required to ensure the survival of the earth that sustains us all. The latter includes Government support of farmers to transition to plant agriculture.