‘Disgraceful’ Vegan Ads on Dublin Bus encouraging consumers to go vegan are an attack on farmers – Irish Farmers Journal

20th January 2023

A recent edition of the Irish Farmers Journal (20th January 2023) carried the headline “‘Disgraceful’ Vegan Ads on Dublin Bus Are An Attack on Farmers”. It quotes Laois Offaly TD, Carol Nolan’s call in the Dail (Irish Parliament) to Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, to condemn the ads which she refers to as ‘misleading’ and a ‘disgraceful attack on Irish agriculture’. Carol Nolan has also produced a video, reassuring the farmers whose vote she doubtless hopes to secure in the next election, that she has called for condemnation of the campaign and requested that the ads be removed. In her video, she repeatedly refers to the Go Vegan World campaign as ‘an extreme ideology’, an ‘attack on Irish farming’, ‘doing untold damage to agriculture’, and ‘misleading’.

Complaints about a campaign that has already run its course

By the time the TD in question called for removal of the ads, the campaign had already run its course having been paid to run in Cycle 1 of the advertising calendar only (until January 12th). We expect that credit will be claimed for forcing Dublin Bus to remove the ads regardless of the fact that the campaign had already ended. Go Vegan World has a legal right to freedom of expression. Public and semi-state bodies that sell advertising space must apply advertising policies in compliance with that right. They cannot remove ads simply because some people object to the content.

Comparison of 2022 and 2023 Campaigns

The Irish Farmer’s Journal is a year behind in its reporting, indicating a disgraceful awareness of the rapidity with which we are bringing our climate and planet to the precipice of disaster for all forms of life. The ad referred to in the Journal appeared in Ireland in January 2022 when emissions from agriculture in Ireland were 37.1%. They have increased to 37.5% this year, as noted on our new ad.

The Science Behind Our Ads

The source of data used in our ads is the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports which state that in 2021, the energy industries, transport and agriculture sectors accounted for 72% of total GHG emissions with agriculture being the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 37.5%. Transport, energy industries and the residential sector are the next largest contributors, at 17.7%, 16.7% and 11.4%, respectively (https://www.epa.ie/our-services/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/ghg/latest-emissions-data/, accessed 24/12/2022).

The agriculture sector is responsible for the largest sectoral contribution to the total emissions. Most of Ireland’s agricultural sector is devoted to animal agriculture which accounts for the highest emissions. Within the figure of 37.5%, the EPA states that enteric fermentation, and manure management account for over 70% of the agriculture emissions; that is 26.5% of total emissions which is significantly higher than the transport, energy and residential sectors that most people imagine are the largest contributors (https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/air-emissions/irelands-provisional-greenhouse-gas-emissions-1990-2021.php/ Accessed 24/12/2022).’

This figure is not far off the global figures for the world’s agri-food systems which the most recent UN FAO report states is almost one third (31%) of human caused climate emissions.

Go Vegan World is Not Anti-Farmer Or Anti-Agriculture

The problem is simple: animal products are environmentally harmful and cause higher emissions than plant foods. It makes sense to promote the elimination of animal use and promote veganism and a plant diet. Vegans have the same needs as non-vegans for food, clothing, footwear, material to build our houses, furnish our homes, and products for the multitude of needs we have as we go through life. We do not need to use the lives, products and bodies of other animals to meet those needs. We can just as easily use plant alternatives and consume less. A vegan advertising campaign like the ones Go Vegan World run are not anti-farmer or anti- agriculture. They are anti-animal use and anti-animal farming. If we are to address our emissions problem and farm in a way that is sustainable to feed our growing population, we will need farmers more than ever to produce more plant foods and engage in ethical, environmentally friendly methods of land use. To say that a vegan campaign is anti-farmer or anti-agriculture is extremely short-sighted and lacking in factual information about the future we are facing.

What Are Complainants Attempting to Hide From Public View?

There’s something very wrong if we can’t put the findings of the research on the side of a bus so that members of the public can access accurate information. Those who attempt to prevent us doing so have a vested interest in profiting from a damaging and unnecessary method of food production, and seek to hide the facts from the members of the public who unknowingly keep them in business.

Of course GHG emissions are not the only environmental concern with animal agriculture. It also causes loss of biodiversity, pollution of our waterways, air pollution, desertification and deforestation. It is nothing short of an environmental disaster.

The hue and cry from TDs and farmers complaining about our advertising campaign is nothing short of bullying. It begs the question why a body that claims to be proud of its work, would go to so much effort to have the facts of that work hidden from public view? Our campaign ads state simple facts. That members of the farming industry feel uncomfortable about the facts pertaining to how they earn their living being made public is surely an indication that they need to change how they farm; not that the facts should should be hidden from the public.

The Real Victims Are Not Farmers: They Are The Animals They Farm

Even if animal agriculture did not have such a high rate of GHG emissions and did not cause environmental destruction, it is immoral. It is predicated on the deliberate breeding of defenceless animals into a life of exploitation and slaughter for profit when we could just as easily meet all our needs, including all our nutritional requirements, from plant agriculture and other non-animal forms of production.

When someone defends animal agriculture, as the complainants to our ads have done so vocally and publicly, they are declaring that they support the unnecessary exploitation and killing of defenceless animals for profit; that they are sympathetic to one of the most significant causes of environmental disaster and the climate catastrophe; that they defend an unsustainable as well as unethical way of earning a living, one that cannot continue and is, therefore, not in the best interests of farmers.

Farmers and those representing them are encouraged to think of themselves as helpless victims of the climate change and sustainability discussion. But the real victims are the billions of land animals and trillions of sea animals who are bred every year to cater to the demands of non-vegans, mostly in the richer parts of the world where animal products are consumed throughout every day. They are the mothers in the dairy industry who cry when separated from their new born babies; they are the males in the dairy industry who are assaulted and exploited for their semen to be used in artificial insemination; they are the new born animals, usually calves, who are taken from their mothers so that we can drink their milk. They are the lambs who are taken from the joy of the fields they call home, and from the safety of their mothers, to be slaughtered when they are still babies so that we can consume their tender flesh. They are the chickens who are selectively bred to grow so fast that their legs can barely hold their weight when they are killed at a few weeks of age to meet the demand for their flesh. They are the pigs who are also selectively bred to carry more muscle tissue than their skeletons are able for, and who are also victims of selective breeding. Turkeys are also victims of selective breeding that causes painful skeletal conditions and they too are artificially inseminated. They are the chickens who are selectively bred to ovulate on a daily basis to meet the human demand for their eggs; and their brothers who are brutally killed at birth because they cannot profit the industry. A quick Google search of any of the facts mentioned here will throw up photos and videos that are the stuff of nightmares. They are most certainly the true victims of animal agriculture and not the farmers who breed them for slaughter and profit from their misery and death.