It is extremely doubtful that that is any substance to the ‘survey’ results released by luxury holiday company Hayes and Jarvis, declaring Dublin to be the most vegan friendly city in the world. As Deirdre Falvey points out in the Irish Times, the ‘survey’ is an analysis of Trip Advisor ratings based on restaurants who declare themselves as ‘vegan-friendly’ if they offer a plant-based option. Apparently one fifth of Dublin restaurants do.

While there is a very welcome increase in the number of restaurants catering for the needs of those who do not use other animals, those on the ground in Dublin and visitors to Ireland do not rate Dublin that highly. This is, no doubt, yet another attempt by a non-vegan business to jump on the band wagon of the growing popularity of plant-based production.

It is ironic that a luxury travel company is jumping on the vegan band wagon. In this era of climate emergency, very few vegans would regard luxury travel as ethical. Most of us are avoiding unnecessary travel, not because travel is not vegan but because it contributes significantly to GHG emissions that are destroying the planet that we and other animals depend on for our existence.

Sandra Higgins, Director of Go Vegan World, was asked to comment on Hayes and Jarvis analysis on Newstalk radio where she spoke to Ciaran Cuddy. Unfortunately, the interview was yet another attempt to ridicule veganism and shut down the opportunity for listeners to be educated. In a typical diversionary tactic, Mr Cuddy wanted to discuss the use of companion animals rather than veganism as a social justice issue that respects the rights of others. No doubt it would make for more sensationalist radio to declare that vegans are extremists who want everyone to get rid of their pets, than a programme that rationally discusses the urgent need to transition to a plant-based economy for everyone’s sake.

So, what would the friendliest vegan city in the world look like? We would certainly hope that it would offer more than a few paltry plant-based options in restaurants that also offer the dead bodies and products of exploited animals. There are excellent vegan options in some of Dublin’s restaurants, but this should be extended to all catering institutes including hospitals, schools, and workplace canteens. There are excellent vegan restaurants in Dublin; we need more of them. But veganism is more than a plant-based diet. A vegan city would not exploit other animals in any way, nor would it run in an animal agricultural and animal exploitative context. A vegan city would offer educational museums that inform us of the sentience, complexity and history of other animals instead of having zoos and aquariums. A vegan city would not use other animals for entertainment, transport, or labour. A vegan city would not sell any animal products including leather, wool, or silk. It’s universities and laboratories would not use other animals for research.

A vegan city would comprise of more than the absence of consumption of other animals as food, clothing, research, and entertainment. Its people would be vegan. Vegans avoid all animal use because they refuse to participate in or demand the exploitation and killing of other animals who share our fundamental right not to be used as commodities and killed. Vegans think and feel about other animals as unique individuals who feel and who have interests and who have an equal right to be here.

You can listen to the interview here.