An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, announced this week that he is reducing his consumption of red animal flesh for climate change and personal health reasons.

His comments have been followed by a media flurry to capture the outrage from farmers and rural TDs claiming he is ‘hurting’ beef farmers by ‘going vegan’.

Striking by its absence is any commentary on how we ‘hurt’ and kill other animals when we use them, or how we are hurting our planet to the point where it will incapable of supporting life, including human life.

Sandra Higgins discusses these points on Newstalk with Shane Coleman. She mentions that Leo Varadkar’s comments illustrate the public confusion between veganism and a plant based diet. Veganism is a way of living that protects the rights of other animals not to be used or killed because they are sentient. One aspect of veganism is the avoidance of animal foods and the consumption of a 100% plant diet. Consuming less animal flesh does not constitute veganism.